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Small victories

July 21, 2010

When you first arrive in a foreign country, you may face a lot of small frustrations on a daily basis. China in particular is an assault on the senses, a barrage of sights, smells, sounds, and flavors that you’re not accustomed to.  It’s easy for these frustrations to pile up, and then you want to hide in your room and surround yourself with familiar things. For me, I often revert into a hermit.

However, after about a month – which is right about where I am – you get used to these things, you stop noticing them, and you become braver.  Today was a day of small victories.

First of all, I ate lunch with some new friends, something I’ve been really bad about so far. We spoke only Chinese at lunch, another big victory (it’s so easy to lapse into English). And I tried a new dish, something I’ve been bad about since breaking my iPhone and with it my electronic dictionary.

Then, at the gym this evening, I pushed myself and ran 5 km in 30 minutes. Felt really great afterwards. Now that I’m more focused and less distracted by this new place, I feel much more motivated to get myself in shape. Even if I can’t run outside here (because of the pollution, it’s like smoking a bunch of cigarettes), I can stay active.

After my workout, I went to a little dumpling place for a quick dinner. When I first arrived in China, I only talked with Chinese people I didn’t know when absolutely necessary; but tonight, I was brave enough to ask some other customers what they were eating – total strangers! “Nei zhong jiaozi you  shenme mingzi?” (Roughly, what are these kind of dumplings called?)  They were very kind and told me right away (shaoyou, whatever that means).

Finally, so far I’ve avoided anything inconvenient or hard to communicate because I’m lazy and nervous to talk to people. I’d been craving watermelon for awhile, but it’s super inconvenient to eat without a kitchen and knives. So today I asked the guy at the little fruit market near our dorms if he could cut one up for me. I even prefaced this with, “Wo xiang mai yi ge xigua, danshi, zai wode sushe, wo meyou yi ge dao.” (I want to buy a watermelon, but in my dorm, I don’t have a knife.) He happily cut one into slices for me! Mmm mmm mmm.

So, I learned something today. If I want something, instead of avoiding it and making excuses, I should go after it. I’m getting my confidence back. It’s a good day to be me.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Cbuck permalink
    July 21, 2010 4:38 pm

    that is amazing!!!! you have come such a long way
    i need to run again, i feel inspired
    i also need to stop complaining about the humidity in dc, im sure it doesnt compare to beijing

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