I am back in China after a brief intermission in the United States for the summer. Despite the endless complaining my friends endured over the summer, coming back to China felt eerily like coming home. I’m still setting up my new apartment and preparing for next semester’s lessons, but I don’t feel the stress and frustration I felt in March when I arrived and felt completely and utterly lost in this chaotic corner of the world.

Of course, there are still frustrations for me here in China, especially after being immersed in my own culture for six weeks, but I think my previous experience here has given me more confidence in holding my ground against pushy Chinese salespeople, landlords, and the like. In my first days home* I celebrated a couple of very small victories in situations where I would have previously just shaken my fist and walked away being angry at my inability to communicate my needs and get the result I’d hoped for.

In addition to these small victories, I think my frustration with China and the Chinese has lessened because of the six weeks I spent at home in America that gave me a little perspective. I cannot tell you the number of times last semester that I said to myself, “In America, this would not happen.” The truth is I was idealizing my country a little bit, most likely because of how difficult every single thing was for me here. Every time I saw something in America that I had complained relentlessly about in China, I took note of it – this happened more than a few times – and now remind myself that, yes, this happens in America too.

I’m looking forward to the coming year in China with this new perspective. Hopefully I can be more accepting of our differences and just enjoy myself here, although I doubt it will ever feel as much like home as home does…unless of course China suddenly adopts a love for Mexican food and avocados. Then I might stay longer.

* Holy cow, did I just say “When I got home” and I was referring to China? Life is weird.