“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” And so the song goes. Living in China, even happily with the Chinese love of your life, you’re bound to miss a lot of things about the good old U.S. of A – ordinary things that you used to take for granted because, well, they’re ordinary and they were always just there.
China definitely has a lot of great things to offer which you won’t find back home; but life here can also be lacking in some ways, particularly when it comes to certain western conveniences that in China are considered more like luxuries, if not completely non-essential to a modestly comfortable life. Here are a few that you probably now wish you cherished more when you were still back home.Your car. But of course! Most likely, this was the one comfort that was the hardest for you to leave behind. After experiencing how bad the traffic can get in China and how Chinese drivers are even worse, not having your own car to drive may actually be more practical and sane. At the same time, public transportation can be a pain in your foreign ass, and Chinese commuters are even worse! Four-burner stove top. If you love to cook, you must be used to preparing more than two dishes at a time. Even in China’s biggest cities, though, modest apartments that come with a stove top with more than two burners are rare, if they exist at all. This means that cooking takes longer, especially when you’re preparing an all-American meal.
Regular food. Or, at least, what used to be regular food for you back home, as well as basic ingredients, which you can find in any convenience store or supermarket – and everything all in one place, too! Your favorite box of cereals; marshmallows; pop tarts; real butter; some herbs and spices; a good piece of rib-eye steak and other prime cuts of beef – many of these items will cost you an arm and a leg, not to mention several stops at different places to procure!
An oven toaster. Especially for a guy whose cooking skills are limited to toasting bread and pop tarts, an oven toaster is probably something that you miss dearly. Sure, Chinese food is great, but a literal taste of home every now and then would surely make it easier to tolerate those very bad China days that you encounter once in a while, or a lot! Plus, given your limited kitchen skills, you may know how to prepare more decent meals using a toaster oven than a wok.
Queues. You would never have thought that you would actually appreciate and miss long, but organized, queues. If you have ever been one of those who has the tendency to quickly run out of patience when somebody at the front of the line takes too long to figure out and place his order, or does not have her money ready to pay for a ticket and takes her sweet time rummaging through her purse, being pushed, elbowed, and cut in front of in China in places where people are supposed to queue up and wait their turn has probably made you realize how petty you were before! And to add to the frustration, those painfully slow little old ladies are just as bad in China.
Personal space. There is no such thing in China. Many times, you probably wish you could simply click your shoes together and say, “There’s no place like home.”
But you made the choice to make China your new home. Certainly, it has its annoying cultural quirks, at least when compared to what you grew up with; but you should not also forget that your own culture also has its own share of annoying cultural quirks which were the reasons that made you want to start anew in a foreign and far-away land in the first place. And China makes up for its lack in many things western in wonderful ways, not the least of which are its lovely Chinese daughters!
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