Homesick for China


A lot of time has passed since I first stepped onto Chinese soil; and in that time I’ve gathered and picked up a part of China along the way. In that time, we’ve bussed to Suzhou and Nanjing; we’ve flown to Taiwan and Xi’an; and we’ve taken a train to Beijing. In that time I’ve discovered many of the distinct and distinguished regions of China and in my travels I augmented my acumen on the China scene. And finally, in my time I done something that most Chinese have not and cannot do – however do so vicariously vis-à-vis texts and tales – and that was truly discovering the unabating Chinese 5000 years of history and glory.

I just think to myself, “Wow. Suzhou, Nanjing, Taiwan, Beijing, just Xi’an and now Meixian,” and I am simply astounded by how numerous and great the experiences were and will be. More surprisingly is that each region possessed its own customs, dialects and accents, and (importantly) food, which ironically add significant diversity to the collectivist mentality present in China. For example, I got to enjoy 16 different types of dumplings in the shape of ducks and fish! Nonetheless, each of group outings has brought me closer to this holistic understanding of the state and supplements everything that I’ve learned in class. To be candid, the idea that this trip is coming to a close is slowly permeating and consolidating with my reality, yet it is still too undesired to truly accept.

I still have little under a month left, but I am already suffering from premature nostalgia for China, after having solidified robust friendships within Davidson and among both natives and foreigners. Two main connections come to mind and they are the ones with Woo Young (my roommate) and with the An’qing Baozi couple. Although we rarely move pass pleasantries, there is never a day that I pass them without a smile, a “hello”, and a genuine “how are you.” Of course, I have friends from all over now in BU, Singapore and South Korea. I feel like that all over East Asia I left my imprint, where people know and will remember (good things about) me after I’ve returned. I prize myself most for my commitment to the Sunflower kids, not with teaching them English, but by offering an unique chance to offset the fact that they miss out for being children of migrant families.

I know that I China will be extremely missed once I return. Even with all the trinkets and knock-offs and tailored coats, I think what I will take back with me is the knowledge and the experiences that came with not only visiting Shanghai, but also the rest of China. It’s the holistic Chinese experiences that made China (and Taiwan) enduring in my mind, even though my stay in China is in itself ephemeral. With approximately 20 days left, I look forward towards the United States for the rest of my college years, and still I’ll have pieces of the Great Wall, Terra Cotta Warriors, Suzhou silk, Taiwanese clothing, and more with me. I guess I am just saying that I am already homesick for China and I haven’t left yet.