July 12, 2011

A new feeling of "foreign"

I’ve been back in the States for a little more than two months now, and writing this blog is one of the many things I miss about living in China. Thankfully, blogs know no borders. For a few weeks now, I’ve been tossing around ideas of things to write about on here, and ultimately have talked myself out of it… until tonight. I logged on to the site for the first time in six weeks and checked my stats, for some reason I still had a little more than 200 hits last month. Though it’s a measly fraction of what I had at the peak of my China adventure, it’s enough to make me feel like there might still be a few people interested in what I have to say.

Here is fair warning that this blog may take any number of routes or perspectives (some of which may be dead ends). If nothing else, it will certainly be a portrait of my current state of affairs (which quite frankly right now is a hot mess).

Since landing two months ago, I’ve mostly reintegrated back into my former life. I drive too much (admittedly my parallel parking skills suffered in my driving hiatus). I happily surf a fast and free internet that doesn’t involve climbing over firewalls. I eat raw vegetables that haven’t been pulverized in a wok.

And I have become a pro-eavesdropper, because for the first time in a long time I can understand everything that’s going on around me. I can read signs, listen to conversations, and speak knowing that the receiver will get the message. I’m back in the land of mutual understanding and comfort.

Of course, the same two questions always come up when I run into people:

  1. How was China?
  2. What are your plans now?
Ugh. If people only knew how loaded those questions are.

My go-to answer for China is, “It was interesting, definitely an education. I guess I’m glad to be back.”

It’s short, vague, and has that golden nugget everyone is waiting to hear “I’m just happy to be back.”

Of course I share other bits if people ask, but it’s a solid answer for encounters in the grocery store.

Then there’s the dreaded second question: What are your plans now?

My answer seems to change on a daily basis.

I’m caught in an interesting dilemma. I call the state with the highest budget surplus and lowest unemployment rate home, yet I don’t have a job.

In a recent blog post on yahoo finance, Daniel Gross reported that there are actually more jobs than people to fill them in North Dakota. In fact, if every single unemployed person in N.D. got a job tomorrow, there would be close to one and a third jobs per person – guaranteed employment! What could be better?

Don’t get me wrong, North Dakota is a fantastic state. In fact, I wouldn’t mind calling Fargo home for a while. However, after spending approximately 40% of the last three years living abroad or on the other end of the US, I’ve grown to crave places that strike my curiosity.

So that’s why I’m an anomaly in the locally booming economy: I’m too used to discovering new places and people. N.D. feels like a very safe and reliable option, and at 22 I still seem to have a lot of reckless spontaneity left in my system.

Here’s what I know for sure, by my birthday (August 30), I ought to have myself set up somewhere – I have to, otherwise I might go crazy. Since coming home I’ve been hopping around from my farm to Fargo and couch surfing, regretfully reliving my bum days from last year at this time.

I’m not going to say where that “somewhere” will be until I have it set, but I do have places narrowed down. Finding a career is proving to be a bit messy, but I’m exploring government agencies, private businesses, and non-profits with equal vigor with the intent of being able to travel between the US and Asia within five years.

But what I really want to do is write. It feels right to me.  I want to capture stories and put them in print. Ideally, long print. In the type of publications that people read when they’re drinking their coffee on Saturday mornings or what they page through while winding down for the evening.

No, it’s not the most practical career choice. And there is a remarkably good chance that this blog may be my only platform. But I’m going to get out there and try. Try. Try.  

Even though I’m no longer a farlang or laowai (foreigner) in the sense of nationality, I still feel like I’m navigating foreign territory while searching for a worthwhile career. So my friends, the Farlang Lady is back and poised for plenty of misadventures.

No comments:

Post a Comment