秩序 (zhixu): "freedom from disorder through respect for the established system or authority; order"
-my Chinese dictionary
Alright, enough complaining. It's time to tell you all the reasons why living in China is awesome.
I love it!
Why did I even come to China in the first place, you might wonder. To improve my Chinese, of course. And while my Chinese has not been improving as much or as rapidly as I'd like, it still is much improved since coming here, which is incredibly gratifying. I picked up a literature magazine the other day while killing time, and I was able to read one of the essays! Gave myself a big pat on the back for that one.
And just like there are little things that bother me, there are little things that make life here great: cheap delicious food, not having to drive, and silly English translations.
Living abroad (alone) has also taught me to be independent and autonomous. I've never lived alone before, and definitely not in a situation like this. Moving to a foreign country by oneself creates self reliance in the same way that pushing a person into deep water creates swimming skills. It doesn't always work, and some people can't take it. I know people here in Quanzhou and elsewhere who have given up and gone home. But I did it! And now I will always know that I can. I'm an independent woman. ;)
There are also lots of cultural differences that I really enjoy. For example, hospitality is a very important part of the culture here. Everyone wants to welcome me to China, show me around Quanzhou, and altogether be incredibly gracious. When I go out with my students for dinner, sometimes I must literally fight with them to pay the bill! Everyone is insanely friendly and generous. People are usually nice in the US, but hospitality and generosity are much more noticeable here.
Too, my foreigner status has its benefits. While I may dislike being stared at and approached, it also grants me a lot of privileges. Foreigners are treated extremely well, and have near-celebrity status. This means I can comfortably go anywhere or talk to anyone. While going to the nicest mall in Charlotte, NC can make me (and most people) feel inadequately dressed and out of place, there is nowhere I can't go here where I won't get deferential treatment. From the littlest hole in the wall restaurant to the nicest restaurant at the fanciest hotel, I am welcomed.
I am also lucky to be living in a place whose economy is doing so well, and I don't just mean because they're able to offer me employment. China has been on the rise, in terms of economy, standard of living, international power, etc. for quite some time now, so there is a definite sense of optimism among Chinese people. Life has been getting better, and they expect it to keep doing so. Most people here are pretty content. I'll admit, this sense of optimism might contain some complacency too, but overall I like living in such an environment.
My favorite thing about being here though has nothing to do with China, but instead with what I'm doing here: teaching. When I stand in front of the classroom, all that stuff I wrote about in my "It's hard" post really doesn't matter at all. I love my job. I have found my calling in life, and although once I leave here it will be some time before I teach at a university again, at least I know my goal.
Also, did I mention that I have a maid?