Friday, June 21, 2013

thoughts on going home.

I am going home tomorrow. Home to Canada. My flight is scheduled to leave Beijing at 6:05PM and I am supposed to land in Toronto at 6:45PM. On the same day! Time travel! Boom!

So yah, I'm leaving for Canada tomorrow, ten months and one day after I left to come to China. And I'm excited to go home, but I'm also not, because of a lot of reasons. It's bittersweet. (Note: I'm coming back to Beijing in August!)

I want to go home to see my friends and family and to breathe fresh air and not have to check the Air Quality Index. I want to drive a car and go online without a VPN and eat "Western" food, but not think of it as being "Western" food.

But I'll be saying goodbye to my friends here for 8 weeks. And to Tony. And I said goodbye to my students a couple days ago and I cried. I cried when I said goodbye to my driver, the man whose name I don't even know, but who I've spent almost 2 hours with every day as he's driven me to and from work, the man who has taught me a few Chinese words and helped carry my bags and dropped me off at a hospital. Leaving Beijing, even for only 8 weeks, is hard because it's become my home and it means saying goodbye and I don't like goodbyes.

And also, I'm a little scared nervous worried about going (coming?) home to Canada because... because so many reasons:

I think I might actually experience more culture shock returning to Canada than I did moving to China. I surprised myself at how quickly I adjusted to life here—the traffic, the pollution, the language, the food, a new job, new people, a big city with a large population (understatement), the markets, you know... A WHOLE NEW CULTURE—and when I think of Canada, and how easy things are there, how different, it actually kind of blows my mind.

I'll be able to cross the street and cars will stop for me. (Well, they're supposed to, and usually do.) I'll be able to order food in English. The menu will be in English! Waiters will stop by the table to ask how the meal is, will refill my water, will ask if I'd like anything else without me having to yell for them, and they will do so in English. There will be no smoking in malls/restaurants/public buildings. When I pay for something, I'll need to remember that I have to pay tax in addition to the price listed. People will say excuse me and please.

And I'm worried because I don't know if I'm going to be able to stop myself from exclaiming about these things. The exclaiming part isn't what worries me, it's the possibility that I'll annoy my friends/family. How many times will my friends put up with me caressing a menu and saying, Guys! The names and descriptions are in English!? Or, when I'm at a cash register, me forgetting and being annoyed, It was only supposed to be $10.49!... Oh, yah, tax. (And I just realized, it probably won't be $10.49 because there are no more pennies. Will I be a little weepy and nostalgic that Canada still used pennies when I left and now they don't and I didn't get to say goodbye? Probably, because I seem to be extra emotional lately and I always stopped to pick up pennies and loved the saying, "If you look after your pennies, the dollars will look after themselves" and now there won't be any more pennies to pick up or look after.) How long will my family last without snapping, Yes, Amanda, you can drink the water from the tap in the kitchen!?

I'm also worried that people who know me—friends, family, the cashiers at Superstore and Shoppers, bank tellers—will see me and think, Wow, she went to China and got ugly. Because I've gained weight and my skin has been acting crazy bad since about mid-March. So I feel like here is where I need to put a disclaimer, even though most of the people who will see me and might think that don't even read this blog: I know that I look different and it's not a good different, and I'm trying to change it, or will try to change it. You can think I moved to China and got ugly, but please don't think that I don't think it or know it. (And really, I think this whole self-image thing is another post I need to write.)

I'm scared because I don't feel like I've changed, but I know I've changed. At least somewhat. I mean, I must have changed. Not just physically, but emotionally, socially, psychologically? I mean, I packed my bags and moved away. Got on a plane for the first time ever and flew for approximately 13 hours across the world. I think these changes are good, but what if they aren't? What if people don't recognize me anymore? I mean, not physically, but you know...

I'm scared because when I left Canada, my mom was healthy and now she has breast cancer, and things will be different. Things would be different even if she didn't have cancer, but now they'll be a different kind of different.

I'm nervous because I have a lot of stuff I want to do this summer, fun stuff and not so fun stuff—like go to Boston and attend a wedding and renew my passport and go to the doctor—and I have a feeling that the next 8 weeks are going to fly by, but they're also going to crawl. Because I have friends and family and a life in Canada, but now I also have friends and a life in Beijing. So many mixed emotions.

ANYWAY, tomorrow. Tomorrow I will say goodbye to people and probably cry and I will get on a plane. And Sunday I will hug my mom and my Nan and probably cry harder than when I said goodbye to them 10 months ago. I don't know why, I just think I will.

All of this to say, I'M COMING HOME!



  2. Amanda, you are different from having such an amazing experience. But that is a good thing. With all the changes you're coming home to, you might have to be patient with your friends and family who need to catch up with the new Amanda, a wonderful, beautiful, more worldly Amanda.

    Don't even worry about how you look, from all your pics you look amazing...whether your weight is up or down, a pimple here, a pimple there, who're amazing, kind, smart and so very pretty! Beautiful actually, but also soo pretty which to me is even nicer than beautiful!

    Have a wonderful flight home!


  3. Hey Sweet pea ! I don't check in here often enough. This is an amazing post and you'll be so glad that you have a record of all these mixed up and opposing thoughts and feels. You are beautiful & brave and lots of other wonderful things. You make me so proud of you ! you are so far ahead of the game your heart and mind sometimes haven't caught up. Trust me.

    loads of love xoxo Susan + gang

  4. Thank you so much, Susan! Your comments always make me feel better and they seem to appear right when I'm doubting myself and need to hear something positive :)


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