May 12, 2010

I'm not crazy, I promise.

For the past few months I've had a reoccurring daydream that I'm running, running as fast as I can and I'm approaching a huge cliff that I'll either soar off of or take a nose dive.

Well friends, I'm about to jump.

 It's so cliche, I know. But I promise I don't actually try make it happen, it just comes to me.

As expected my last semester of school was a mad dash to figure out exactly what I want to do with my life. Talk about exhausting. I knew I wanted to go abroad, preferably to Jordan or a Spanish-speaking nation, after which I would move to Boston or DC, land a stellar job, get my Masters and live my dream. Instead I find myself going to China.

“You’re going to China?” Yes, I’m going to China. “Wow. That’s crazy!” Yes, I know it’s crazy. Then the dumbfounded look of awe from each newly informed friend usually lasts for up to ten seconds before breaking into more rapid-fire questions. That scene has been played out at least once every day for the past month and a half.

Yes, I’m moving to China. I find myself having to repeat that over and over in my head as I try to digest it. In all my endeavors, none have proven more emotionally draining than when I try to process the fact that I’m moving to a country that I only have vague generalizations of what to expect.

I have zero expectations for China. I never ever saw myself going to Asia, it’s not that I didn’t want to, I just had never thought about it. I guess that’s the beauty of this adventure. China to me is like a blind date, all that I really know about him [China] is what I was able to creep off his limited public profile on Facebook.

To me, China is Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Xi’an with a landmass the size of the United States lying in between them all. It’s the land of emperors and the world’s largest wall. It’s home to the most people in the entire world. And to my eyes the language is a tangled web of darts and dashes forming an incomprehensively beautiful script.

China also happens to be the last communist world power. I’ve studied their government and gained a solid understanding of the economic machine that keeps GDP growing at a rate of nearly 10 per-cent a year. China is also on the winning side of a nauseatingly large trade deficit with the United States. In this economic climate, that’s rather disconcerting.

Everything from my sunglasses to my water cups to the picture frames on my wall is made in China. I read last fall that one Chinese city makes only buttons. In fact, 80 per-cent of the buttons used in the clothes that are made in China (so like half of my closet) are made in that one city. It’s a thriving button-industry city – can you imagine!

Yet, the Chinese people I’ve met break every economic or government-laden generalization I have dreamt up about the country. By far they are some of the most friendly, kind-hearted people I know. My Chinese friends are fiercely patriotic and are thrilled I want to learn more about their home.

So off I go.

Off I go to the land where Facebook and Twitter are blocked. My best friend, Google, won’t be accompanying me either. Hell, I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to stream this blog since most blogging sites are blocked by the Great Firewall.

I’ve got three months to prepare for the adventure of my life. At this point, four out of five days are good ones when I think of the incredible people, the great university I’ll be working at, the beautiful cities and the millennia of traditions that still are proudly practiced.

But every now and then, the fear of the unknown envelops me. The language barrier, the humungous cities, and expansive government kind of freak me out.

When I go, I’ll be ready. And knowing me, after a month I won’t want to come home.

In the meantime, I'll get to practice my Spanish during a service trip to Guatemala. I leave the day after graduation (Sunday). My life is 73 levels of fantastic right now.


  1. I'm so very excited for you to begin your Chinese adventure, Janae! Although, first, you need to help me break in my new apartment. It should be just about ready for its first coctail party when you return from Guatemala! I hope you will have a way to keep this updated since I don't know how I'll be able to keep up with you and your Asian antics.

  2. It is nice to see that you have finally created this blog to help us stay in touch with your wonderful writings. I read this article in the recently published spectrum issue and I was impressed by the style. I understand the emotions and reasoning behind a such article as you're about to go outside of your everyday world and discover ordinary and extraordinary things. Leaving friends that you always cherish may be a hard thing to do but worthwhile in a very near-future. I know you'll never regret having made a such decision... You're about to enrich again your knowledge by what Descartes Called the "Big book of the world". I mean trips or voyages which are part of the veritable sources of knowledge of the world around us.Finally, Congrats for your graduation and Good luck for this Asian adventure!!!!!! Rafiki