My first intention to write a blog failed. At the time, I think I was too encumbered, dazzled, and hurried to start the type of blog I had in mind. Moreover, the amount of labor that I realized a person needed to put into creating and maintaining a blog did not seem reasonable since I had just started my first post-graduate job, was traveling abroad for the first time, and living in a city for the first time. There were too many firsts happening and not enough time to reflect on them all while executing everything else I needed to get done. In China, bureaucracy is king and until you have all your documents and the know-how to keep it squared away and under control, it can be quite mind-boggling. Lastly, I was burnt out on all the writing I had done in graduate school and felt I was entitled to some laziness to boot.
The goals of my first blog seemed quite simple and straight-forward. I would write about my experiences traveling and teaching abroad so that I could share them with my friends and family all across the world. I thought, “Hey, I’m doing something cool and everyone will want to know about it!” While the goals were straight-forward and simple, when I reflect on them now I can easily see what I misunderstood and where I went wrong. First, I didn’t have any traveling experiences yet. Everything was new. While I have visited many major cities throughout my life, I had never lived in one. Moreover, Shanghai is grand on a scale that I think you can only comprehend (in America) if you’ve lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York. For someone like me, I was in awe. Second, my experiences were raw and without form. Time and patience have shown me the most subtle of differences between life in Shanghai and life back home. The realization of such subtleties has helped me recognize the true essence of assumptions, prejudice, discrimination, and how these abstractions can only be recognized with the aid of cross-cultural comprehension. Third, I wasn’t psychologically prepared to face some of the realities of my experiences or to write about them for the world to see. There is a huge difference between touring abroad and living abroad and I was quite reactionary to a lot of the cultural, environmental, and societal differences that I experienced in China. Moreover, I was stuck with those differences for a while and it has taken me some time to work out how to deal with them.
So now I’m beginning at the end of my journey in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.