I know people want to hear about China. And maybe that’s why I haven’t posted here in three weeks–because I’ve wanted to write about stuff other than my trip.
Shanghai was great. I still can’t believe I went to a place as exotic as China.
I spent time with my oldest friend–we met in first grade–, who has been teaching English in Shanghai since last May. I saw a temple, Chinese architecture, the Bund and the view of Shanghai from atop the Oriental Pearl Tower, lazed in People’s Park, watched all the signs and preparations for the World Expo, celebrated my friend’s birthday at a fab club and ate lots of good food (fried bullfrog included) and drank lots of good cocktails. I felt like I was on vacation, and it was amazing to see my friend after so long.
I was happy to get back to Sydney. But when I did, I found myself feeling surprisingly…lost. The day I left for my trip was my three-month anniversary in Oz. With the initial sparkle of such a colossal relocation faded, I felt like I had to get down to some sort of “business.” The business of what, I had no idea. My friend, who will almost definitely be staying in China for at least another year, also happened to be the first person I’ve seen from back home since coming here, which I think played a role in my strange mood.
After a week and a half of processing these feelings, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve reached the “compare and contrast” phase of expat existence. I am measuring how I feel now that I’ve really started living a normal life in Australia to how I felt living my life in the States. Maybe I was afraid of what my feelings would tell me, and that’s why I felt off–and avoidant–last week.
It’s so strange to miss the people you love back home so much, but find yourself feeling happier in a place so far away from them. It almost feels as if I’m being a traitor. I think the truth I’ve been so afraid of isn’t what I initially feared coming here–that it wouldn’t work out, that I’d be on a plane to Newark Airport faster than you can say “Wollongong.”
The truth–and maybe it took seeing a friend who made a similar move and is happy she made it, despite missing home herself–is that I feel happy and healthy here and can maybe see myself staying for longer than a year, if fate, and Australian Immigration, permits it. I already feel like nine more months is not enough time–and I’ve been doing and seeing a lot since I got here.
I know I’m missing things back home. I know that all my friendships and connections might not survive my time here. I know that almost all of the people in this world who love me are on American soil and that I don’t have a soul who feels that way about me in Australia.
But…I don’t want to feel like I need to rush to experience things because I’m on borrowed time OR because I feel like people back home won’t understand if I extend my absence. I know I can’t stay forever, but I want to be able to go when I’m ready to go. Maybe that sounds selfish or self-indulgent. But it’s where I’m at.