I’ve been in China for 142 days. I don’t usually count days (I’m actually quite horrible with remembering dates) but it seemed appropriate for this blog. I know it sounds cliché, but these past 5 months have literally flown by. I’ve learned around 700 characters, countless useful phrases, and traveled to Beijing, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Wuzhen, and around Hunan. I’ve come to be baffled by my 7-year old self who didn’t like Chinese food. I’ve fallen in love with Shanghai all over again.
And now I’m going home. No, thankfully not permanently. Not yet. But in an hour or so (if my flight doesn’t get delayed again due to heavy snowfall in Europe) I’ll be boarding a plane that will take me back to Holland. I’m so excited. I haven’t truly been homesick, but I’ve missed my family and friends. And over the last couple of weeks, several of my sentences started with “OMG I can’t wait for…”. I’ve asked all my friends who are traveling home what will be the first thing they eat once they get home. The most common answer? “Meat”. Steak. Because no matter how much we love Chinese food, we miss meat. Yes yes, Chinese dishes have meat, but it usually clings to bones and what you can nibble away with your teeth is so little that you’re barely ever satisfied. I think it’s safe to say a lot of us will be stuffing ourselves full of protein before returning in a month.
Once I realized I was truly going home, the cravings truly started. Not just for food, but for the strange comforts of home that seem so normal when you’re living there. Like what, you might ask? Well, because I like lists so much..
YAY I’M GOING HOME:
1. Shanghai winters are cold. Okay, I realize that the current snow-situation in Europe means it’s absolutely freezing over there too. But the problem with the south of China is that there’s no central heating. My little room has a little air conditioner that converts to a heating-system in the winter, BUT I managed to break it. I know, I’m very clever. So Europe: it’s cold outside, you’re shivering after a long walk, someone just threw a snowball at your face, but then you come home and plop yourself down next to the heating with a hot chocolate. Oh how I’m looking forward to that hot chocolate..
2. Snowball fights. Snowmen. Snow angels. Need I go on?
3. No loud throat noises followed by a big blob of spit flying out in the middle of the street. Or the metro. Or right in front of your feet. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the spitting.
4. Eating with a knife and fork.
5. Understanding everything everyone says.
6. And obviously: my dearest parents, lovely brother and amazing friends
142 days. Time to go home.