I’ve always been a calculated adventurist. Since I was small I have assessed the risk to benefit ratio of whatever I did. For example, at four years old I remember looking at a very large and intimidating slide. This slide is so large its built into a hill and is made out of concrete. All the kids who knew about this slide knew if you went to Slide Park, you’d better bring a hefty cardboard box- one that could withstand hours of sliding down that big hill. I had brought my box, I saw my older brother go down that slide and I wanted a piece of the action. But first I contemplated the risks with my four year old mind. Main concerns: how close was Mom and skinned knees. Mom was close, skinned knees? Well, I was really into Band-aids then and considered it a badge of honor to have them. The benefits of box sliding fun outweighed the risk of skinned knees. Down that slide I went. Again and again.
Fast forward about 23 years. I’m married, have a great job, own a home, have traveled and gotten to do just about everything I had wanted to do up until then. My husband taught at a local high school and had started learning Chinese, mostly for fun. I had started learning Chinese too, not because I really wanted to, but because it was something challenging that we could do together. Little did I know what I had gotten myself into.
My husband was eventually told that to really learn Chinese one must be immersed in the language. Then and only then would we learn to speak “Real Chinese”. With that idea taking root and starting to grow in his mind, my husband broached the subject of making an extended trip to China. “No way. Never!” was my response. No need to calculate. Over my dead body would I go to China. Why would I want to live anywhere else? California has it all, the ocean is one hour west, the mountains one hour east. Any kind of food we want. Our families live close by. We have jobs. A mortgage. Two cars. The list of reasons not to go seemed endless…
Since that time I have learned never to say never. Call it karma or what you will, but it seems like I will always end up doing what I said I would never do eventually. So to make a long story short, this Sacramento Valley native ended up in the Middle Kingdom, very much alive, with nothing but a suitcase and a whole lot of learning to do. The benefits of going to the Land of the Unknown somehow outweighed the risks.
In between wading through the sea of toys on the living room floor and wrangling my rambunctious 8 month old (I said I’d never have kids), I will be writing to you arm chair travelers and globe trotters alike, true stories replete with episodes of culture shock, language learning gaffs, etiquette faux pas, and the occasional intestinal upset. I hope you enjoy it!
Please feel free to comment with feedback and questions.
See Myra’s personal blog: The Interactive Expat