Having left home only a few months ago and lived in Guangzhou for a little over a month, it may seem premature to have a list of things I miss about the States. Or you might be thinking it’s very darn well time for me to share the joys of America that one might easily take for granted—some more obvious than others. Let’s start with the obvious.
1 — Fucking Internet.
Pardon my language, but for a country that has modernized unbelievably quickly these past several decades, you would think Internet speed and access would have been a no-brainer— top priority, even. And yet, especially for the first few weeks, I found myself hopelessly resetting my router, repeatedly getting kicked off VPN, and questioning existence without a stable Internet connection. Heck, my aunt has even installed another router in my apartment, and despite its initial success, I seem to have returned to spotty WiFi hopelessness. #saveme
2 — Central Air Conditioning.
I miss not having to worry about turning on and off the A/C. In my apartment, the A/C unit in my bedroom is ridiculously noisy. Sometimes, I’ll have an internal debate on whether I prefer sweating at night or listening to the rumble and grumble of this ancient machine. #firstworldproblems? This leads me to…
3 — Not Sweating 24/7.
So this hasn’t been as prevalent as before the rainstorms from Typhoon Mujigae, but my sweat game here has been unbelievable. One day, I took a bus to work and my boss still thought I had walked, from what I guess looked like layer of sweat on my face. No, I did not walk. It is just ridiculously hot in Guangzhou that there isn’t a moment sweat isn’t dripping from my body. #sorrynotsorry for that nasty image.
4 — Public Toilets.
You know, public toilets in Vietnam are impressively clean, and I actually think I miss those more than those in the States. Every public toilet I went to in Hanoi had this incredibly pleasant-smelling pink soap with amazingly clean toilets—even at the gas station stop in the middle of nowhere on the way to Halong Bay! Still, public restrooms in the States tend to be better than the squatting, soapless, toilet paper-less ones in China. I find myself thankful the squatting toilets at my workplace even have toilet paper outside the stalls.
5 — Kids Not Peeing in the Streets.
I am not kidding when I say I see at least one kid pulling his (sometimes her) pants down to take a piss in the streets daily. Whether I’m walking to work or even in one of the massive underground shopping malls, there will always be a kid with his (or her) mother hovering beside the kid as he (maybe she) takes a piss in a plant, next to a tree, or directly in the open. This is completely normal.
6 — Shopping on Amazon Prime.
Upon the recent news that my mom will be visiting soon, I discovered just how much I had missed ordering anything I wanted from Amazon Prime (yeah, my mom’s acting as the mule for my shopping binge). Sure, it’s even cheaper to order on Taobao here but that requires working knowledge of Chinese, and we all know my Chinese needs work. I literally spent hours on Amazon last night stocking up on items related to my recently developed Korean beauty product obsession. That kind of joy can’t be matched, even with WeChat Pay.
7 — Not Having to Explain I’m an ABC.
Sure, it can be “fun” to see that look on someone’s face when they learn that your Chinese sucks because you’re an ABC with family from Guangzhou. But if I had a yuan for each time I’ve repeated this story, I wouldn’t have to pay for another bus ride ever.
8 — Being Free to Travel During Holidays.
Here’s another phrase I hear too often in China: “Don’t travel during holidays.” I think in September and October in China, there are a total of more than 20 vacation days. And yet, I’ve traveled to exactly 0 places during these “holidays” due to the unfortunate truth that traveling during any holiday in China certainly means suffocating crowds everywhere. I am constantly told not to travel because 人山人海. It’s sad to make such a realization that hibernating is the best way to spend a holiday here, and it makes me appreciate all those breaks I spent traveling elsewhere in the States.
But when it comes down to it, I’m having a wonderful time in China. Living with these inconveniences is part of the expat life in China, and now is the best and perhaps only time I think I’ll be able to deal with them while enjoying the other amazing opportunities here.