Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
12Trip End Aug 02, 2013
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Some days I can not handle all the attention I get for being a foreigner in Changsha (though some days I love it). Unless I am in my apartment, alone, I have very little privacy, if any at all. On the bus I have at least 10 pairs of eyes staring at me at all times combined with some little old man who is literally leaning on my shoulder (in my personal bubble) attempting to read my wechat(a very popular social media phone app) messages and pictures because he so curious about me. The same goes for the grocery store, the clubs, restaurants....everywhere. I am pretty understanding about the curiosity many Chinese people have about foreigners, I am very aware that most people in Changsha have rarely, if ever, come into contact with one. I try very hard to be understanding of this but man it can be exhausting. I constantly have to re-educate Chinese people and sway them from applying anything they see in American movies to actual American people. Just the other day I got in a very calm and friendly debate with a Chinese girl who was convinced, no matter what I said, that I am rich, my family is rich, everyone in America is rich....jesus it was like talking to a brick wall. From certain perspectives based how the dollar weighs against the RMB you could see how one might think that everyone is rich in America, if they could come to china and hold that same job! What they don't seem to understand is that I am NEGATIVE money after putting my self through college. If they only knew!
Another difficulty I have experienced in China is dating. Now recently i have had some priority changes in who I want to date, because that person whom I was sort of trying to develop my feelings for is no longer an option due to distance and me being away for a year. Now I am totally free to date with no reservations or comparisons. BUT dating in China for a white, blond girl is certainly not easy. You have your choice of foreigners (expats) and Chinese men. The foreign men here generally just want to date Chinese girls, and the Chinese girls flock to them. So the foreign men are out, The you have Chinese men. Well I am certainly going to generalize right now, so dont get all crazy and think that I assume all Chinese men are like this, I know there are exceptions.Dating culture for the Chinese is much different than what I am used to in the US. The men start out very strong...overwhelmingly strong. Professing love and future plans, exhausting the phrase "you are so beautiful", paying for every little thing(and big things), carrying my purse, escorting to me to the bathroom to make sure i am safe and handing me paper towels to dry my hands after washing (WTF?)....this all happens in the first week to 2 weeks. They are generally very possessive, I always have an arm around me and It is difficult to interact with people other than their friends. My food is chosen for me, my plans are chosen for me....I felt like I was just there to be there and look pretty. The girls accompany the men places and then they just sit there on their phones while the men drink and get crazy. Now throw in the fact that I am foreign, the language barrier, and remember that usually these guys have never even talked to an American. They get so excited about the idea of having a foreign girlfriend, but in reality our cultures are so different and we cant have intellectual conversations, that these relationships just fizzle out after a few weeks. So if the foreign men are out, and until I meet a Chinese guy that changes my opinion of Chinese dating culture, the Chinese men are out. What does that leave me in China!!!???? I am certainly not going to switch teams. I guess what I have come to terms with in the last week and the loss of my potential relationship back home is that I need to make myself happy. I need to find inner peace and stop having so many expectations. If you let your expectations with dating, friends, life, be neutral you are less likely to be let down. So my new plan, which I wasn't really doing before, is to find inner peace alone and stop trying to find it through others because I have been so let down by doing this in the past. I am starting hobbies, focusing on Chinese, organizing my life, being creative, and coming up with ways for my life to have purpose...all on my own. I have been waiting and waiting and trying and lowering my standards to try and have a man in my life and it is time to try a different approach. If I am happy alone and doing the things that I love, I will meet someone with the same values as me.
What have I been doing to occupy my time? BASEBALL! I have been playing every other week with a bunch of foreign and Chinese guys. There are only 2 girls including myself and quite frankly I prefer it that way! No drama! We have talked about getting a league together in Changsha and this week the guys made it happen. They got 44 players, 4 teams and the games begin next week. This is really special because baseball is not popular in China...It isn't really popular anywhere but America. The two universities in town each have a team and these guys LOVE baseball, they practice many times a week and have games on the weekend with no field and limited equipment. We have to play on whatever grass field we can find available and they set up some bases and off we go. Between the two teams we have enough helmets and bats for one team. I had to borrow a glove from one of my very good friends Maxmore who is a China native and the one who included me these games. I am so happy he did because I have been lacking a hobby. I realize how important hobbies are! I feel so much better about my life with a hobby. And I played softball since i was 5 years old so it is really great to get back into a sport that I actually know well. All the guys really know their stuff when it comes to baseball, it is impressive. Needless to say I a having a blast playing baseball and hopefully this league will really take off and we can spread this awesome sport to new players.