Thursday, July 17, 2008

Things are improving....

So after my bitch of a day the other day, I have had two pleasant ones. Nothing great, but I also haven't felt like fleeing the country lately. Sadly, that's a step up.

For the most part I enjoy living here, but there is still a lot about China that I will never get used to. I am not cut out for living here long term, and am anxiously awaiting my return home. Please don't misunderstand me, I have enjoyed my time here and will continue to enjoy it until I leave. However, China will never be a place I can call home. China is so different from what I am accustomed to in a lot of ways, but I think I could get over that. What really bothers me about being here is that I will forever be considered an outsider.

Unlike living in Europe or many parts of Latin America, I will never fit in here. This is not a country where diversity is commonplace and accepted. It does not matter if you were born here and have lived here your entire life, you will never be Chinese if you aren't of the Chinese race. In contrast, if you were born in America, and so were your parents, and your parents parents, but THEY were from China.. you will always be Chinese. It's a very race oriented society, which is new for me and I'm not sure that I like it.

America definitely has a race problem, but after being overseas I realize that it's not nearly as bad as we all think. As far as the rest of the world goes, we are pretty progressive in our acceptance of diversity and our attempt to talk about it and embrace it. Diversity is not only supported in America, but encouraged. Here, people of darker skin (even if they are still Chinese) are discriminated against openly. I encountered the same thing in Spain and in Latin America... and if you're actually black or, heaven forbid, Muslim, then you're really discriminated against. I miss the diversity and the relative acceptance of the US. I miss being amongst people such as myself and not feeling different all the time. By "people such as myself" I mean people who don't notice the color of my skin... not just white people.

Maybe I'm just too sensitive. There are a lot of people here who are white, black or other who live here and seem to be happy. Then again, they don't usually try to be a part of the Chinese community... they just throw themselves into the expat community. I like the expat community here and it definitely is a major comfort, but its constantly changing because Shanghai is such a transient city so I will never feel settled here. I might feel differently if I didn't have so much waiting for me back in the States, but since I do I will say that while Shanghai is a great place to come for a short period of time, I'm ready to go home. I plan on enjoying the hell out of my last few months here and I'm glad I'll have some time to say goodbye and do all the things I've been meaning to do. I know I'll look back on this time and China with fondness and probably be bored out of my skull when I get back to the slow-paced South... but at least I'll be home.

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