Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I haven't written an old-school China post in a while, which supports the thesis of this post, but it still makes me feel funny about writing it.

Something I noticed at the recent Shanghai barCamp and that came back to me while reading the Laowai Wenshen blog is the feeling that these days I meet more and more foreigners who have been in China for 5, 6 or more years. These folks are usually somewhat conversant in Chinese and don't think much of it, or still don't speak much but are cognizant of this as something to regret. They've moved beyond the "China contrasts" stage, the "China is so different" stage; they're done "experiencing China" and instead are focused on getting on with their lives, building careers and families, investing in friends and lifestyles, and living constructively making things that are worthwhile.

I'm not saying that people like this didn't exist before. They did, but they were always the exception, a novelty.

This all makes me feel really comfortable and satisfied. Maybe it's because I grew up abroad that I feel like I had a leg up on this, and it's been something I've been looking forward to for a while now. I don't have to fake the "China is so strange" conversation with people as often; I don't have to explain Chinese words I drop into conversations; and I don't feel like I'm imposing on people when I recommend things to them that require interacting with locals, moving around the city/country, or letting themselves down off the magic carpet ride of "China" to deal with the mundane business of Real Life. Let's talk about hospitals where you had your baby! Let's talk about local politics or something you read in the newspaper! Let's complain about the cost of living and how we'll never own a house! Let's talk about your latest project that isn't some expat-focused website guide to Shanghai. This is the kind of stuff I find satisfying these days, and it's getting easier to find.

And also at Julen's BBQ party, and writing for Shanghaiist, and...


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