December 5, 2010

Two Months

This weekend was the two-month marker from when Alex and I touched down on Big Red. It feels like we just got here on one hand, but on the other it feels like we've been here for an eternity.

I was thinking today about what my day-to-day would be like stateside. I would have my car to drive, I would have any number of friends to call and hang out with, and there would be much more cheese and recognizable meat products in the foods I eat. How novel and strange that life sounds…

It’s alarming that my days and weeks have a rhythm to them now. Mine and Alex’s teaching schedules are near perfect opposites, so we each spend most days navigating China by ourselves, which always leaves plenty to recap about in the evenings.

Our weekends have had distinct patterns to them for the past three weeks too. We go out with more or less the same group of people to the same handful of bars and just enjoy the fact that we have found some kin – sort of.

Making friends here is incredibly difficult. In a city the size of New York, I’m trying to seek out potential friends from a population pool equal to half of my hometown. At least people here seem far less judgmental about me being from North Dakota than they were in DC and Rome.

Once the people are spotted, becoming friends poses an entirely new challenge. We all work in very different parts of the city and we all came to China for very different reasons. Without context of people’s past, it’s hard to tell who is here to develop their career from those who are running away from the mess of their personal life back at home, while mixing in the people like Alex and I who came here on a whim wanting travel and work experience.

All of the people I hang out with are all 20-somethings, navigating their first job outside of college adjusting to a full-time professional life in a very strange place and trying to reacquire the social comforts they had back home – myself included.

Two months. In two months my social circle is much smaller than I had anticipated it being, but it’s growing. Friendships take time. The past eight weeks have brought monumental changes within myself as well, which may not become evident until I return back to former definition of normalcy – cars, shopping malls, multiple stars in the sky, and readable billboards.

Already I’m writing my final exams. I will be finished with half of my courses before Christmas. Two months is all it took to get to this point. Where will the next two months bring me?

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