Wednesday, January 7, 2009

interview: take one

I've seen this interview on a few blogs I lurk on and never asked to be interviewed (okay I did once but then didn't answer the questions, sorry!), but when Andy at Life Isn't So Terrible After All posted it, I just had to jump on board. She asked me some good questions, so in order to do them justice I'm going to be posting the answer to one question per day for the next five days. That way, it's more likely that you'll actually read it.

The Rules

1. If you want to participate, leave me a comment saying, "Interview
me." (And your e-mail address, please.)
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone
else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them
five questions.

The Questions:

1. Do you think you've grown (figuratively) during your time in China? If so, in what aspect is it more evident?

China has FOR SURE been the biggest growing experience in my life to date.

I've been abroad before and consider myself a very independent person, but my notions of "abroad" and "independence" were completely thrown out the window when I landed in Shanghai back in August. I love Europe, I feel at home in Europe, and maybe that's why I don't feel like I grew as much there. Being in Europe is sort of like being in America, except everyone dresses better and eats less. That's pretty much the only significant difference I encountered during my many European travels. Sure, you'll run into a native once in a while that doesn't know English, but that's rare. At least it was for me during my 9 month stint in France and subsequent summer European road trips. Besides, no matter what country you're visiting in the EU, you can sort of guess what signs, menus, and labels say because English has borrowed so many words from other countries. In China? Not a chance. You have to know a ridiculous amount of characters (something like 2,000 or 3,000) just to read a newspaper here, so being able to "guess" what you're ordering isn't going to happen. Unless, of course, there's a picture.

Strangely enough, the most significant lesson I've learned in this chaotic, topsy turvy, bordering on anarchism country is to be more patient. I have to credit a lot of that to Romy, who introduced me to Eckart Tolle's concept of living in the present moment, but I've also made a lot of life changes in order to accept life for how it is and not expect anything, good or bad. Living in such a fast-paced and cut throat society like China, a person needs to made a conscious decision to stay grounded. It's easy to get caught up in it all and let it either drive you mad or change you into someone you don't want to be.

Right now, I'm happy with me. I don't let negativity into my life and have stopped defending myself when/if I am criticized ("Is that so?" said the Zen master). I don't let anyone pressure me into doing anything I don't want to do and I don't feel bad saying "No" to invitations or requests. I stopped eating all meat but fish and have focused on eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruit and plenty of fiber and whole grains. I eliminated dessert (for the third time) from my diet and have made an effort to keep my alcohol consumption to a minimum. I stretch every day and meditate several times a day. I try to go to the gym as often as possible.

Maybe I would have made this changes if I had stayed in America, but maybe not. It's easy to get into a routine and just drift from day to day without really having any kind of self awareness. In China, drifting is pretty hard. Everything is changing too rapidly for a routine to ever really set in. There's positives and negatives to that, but at least it keeps life interesting.


Andy said...

That was a great answer. ANd that's true. I don't think I could handle moving anywhere else but Europe or the USA or Latin America. The rest is just a plain scary move.

Frank said...

But I hear that they don't have bacon in China. But they do in Europe.

Europe > China

KC said...

Interview me!

Good q and a btw. When you're done with answering these ones we can always keep it going for a little bit.

Strawberry said...

andy - ya, it's been a rougher road than i anticipated, that's for sure. can i visit you in france??

frank - agreed. can i visit you in chicago?? i want to go to second city again!

KC - :D done and done