Adventures on the Mainland

Exploring Zhangjiajie
I've felt a lot, said a lot, done a lot, experienced a lot, and regretted a lot during my first 65 days in the Hunan Province. I got myself into a bad situation with a wealthy Chinese businessman who didn't speak any English. I got a two-hour massage for less than $30USD that left my back covered in dark purple bruises because I didn't know how to say "less pressure, please."

Tianmen Mountain on a cloudy day
I got homesick and spent an entire weekend scrolling through my sisters' Facebook profiles. I got drunk in my local park when I was sad about my Dad not being here for my China adventures. I got more than 220 English majors to teach "pronunciation for communication" and "speech and debate" to and I love them all. I got friends and frenemies all bonded together by our English speaking skills and lack of other options.

I got to take a 50 minute cable car ride up Tianmen Mountain and I got to walk down five steep escalators and one incredibly long set of narrow stairs to get back down.

I got sick with a cold that turned into laryngitis that turned into me trusting a student and a doctor who examined me while smoking a cigarette, which turned into me taking small green pills of traditional Chinese medicine, cough syrup that tasted like unflavored Robitussin, and an abundance of throat lozenges.

Being sick sucks no matter what country you're in
I got a five hour train ride to Changsha for a two day visit. I got new perspective on how animals are treated in the US vs. in China and realized how vast the cultural differences truly are while also realizing that caring about nature is a luxury of the rich who have plenty. I got excited when I saw adorable puppies for sale on almost every street and I got sad when I realized I couldn't buy one only to make it a stray at the end of my contract. I got drunk, I got new friends, and I got stories.

I got scars from the rove beetle that bled on me. I got traumatized from the bat that woke me up in the wee hours of the morning. I got irritated from the stink bugs around my bedroom window. I got paranoid from the stray dogs running around my campus for fear of rabies.

Changsha food, smog masks, and puppies
I got frustrated by how difficult it is to send money earned in China to my US bank account. I got annoyed at the basketball, tai chi, and traditional dancing that loudly takes place outside my apartment each and every morning starting at 7 a.m. I got used to using my squat toilet/eastern-style toilet/squatty potty for all my business in spite of all the westerners telling me that I wouldn't. I got used to my shower that drains directly over my squat toilet (washer, too). I got used to not having a dryer and using my drying rack.

During these first few months, I feel like I've seen it all and like I haven't seen anything yet. China's just not China if I don't see the sun setting over the mountains that I love to walk in as often as I can. The smells are strong, but the sense that each day can be completely different is stronger. Have I wanted to say "I've seen enough!" and go home? Absolutely. Will I? No. This is by far the most interesting thing I've ever done. I got this.

Zhangjiajie sunsets from my balcony