They say home is where the heart is, but as my heart (thankfully) remains squarely in my chest I think it’s more appropriate to say home is wherever you choose it to be.
Having said that, in a couple of months, all of which is seemingly flying past in the blink of an eye, I will have lived abroad here in China for a year. This will be the longest time I have ever been away from England. Of course there are bound to be things a person misses when they uproot their life and carry it with them to the other side of the world in two 25kg bags and a carry on. In this regard I am no different, I’m only human after all.
With that in mind I thought I’d spend a little time reflecting on five or so things that I have and do miss, in no particular order.
Before you let your imagination run away with you, let me assure you there is most certainly food in China. In fact a lot of the food here is delicious. People also cook out here, that’s not particularly unique to any part of the world. What I mean is that I miss being able to cook meals I know how to make. As of yet I haven’t learnt much in the way of the cooking style out here. The way in which meals are prepared is quite different. The most noticeable factor is the lack of an oven, which is were all my difficulties lay. Back in England the majority of the meals I know and love are generally based in oven cooking, something I never really gave a second thought to when I ovens were readily available. There are times when I really miss whipping up a lasagne or even just throwing a few pies in the oven. I know, hardly master chef material, but its always the little things. Living in a metropolis like Shanghai all these things are available, and with a little digging around I have no doubt I’d be able to find an English speaking cooking class/course. But at the same time I think at the heart of it, I just miss the convenience of it all.
First world problems right? Again, its not as if the internet doesn’t exist over here. But what I really miss is the freedom of the internet and the speed. Compared with the broadband I was more accustomed too, China is very much the turtle racing the hare. But every cloud, and I’m hoping, much like that age old tale the turtle will eventually win outright. China talks about becoming a world leader in innovation, robotics and all things advanced. In this day and age it is the internet that is the core foundation and infrastructure of these developments, along with the rapid sharing of information. Surely then China will need to boost its internet capacity to meet the demands of ground-breaking research? I also miss being able to sit back and watch useful (and entirely useless) YouTube videos without having to worry about VPNs or check Facebook every now and again to see what friends and family overseas are up to unimpeded. Whether this will come to pass, only time will tell.
I can hear the bells and the sirens ringing … Nerd ALERT! But each to their own. In China the gaming community is predominately based on mobile gaming, the industry is worth all kinds of large numbers. Unfortunately mobile gaming has never really appealed to be, but perhaps I don’t know which games I should be playing. In terms of the more ‘traditional’ platforms shall we say, I am happy as equally happy sitting in front of a monitor and keyboard, mouse in hand as I am sitting with a controller and a reasonably sized TV. My laptop, before leaving England wasn’t anything crazy in terms of high performance, but it was definitely keeping up at least. Where as now I have a simple plain old laptop cable of running word processors and anything not at all graphically challenging. The console ban is something that has only recently been lifted, however I’m not in the position to go out and get one, which leaves me in the dark a little. I don’t have any plans to bury myself in my room, just me and my machine like I once used to. But I can’t help but notice the single tear rolling down my cheek when I think of all the titles I’m missing out on.
Family and Friends
This one is a bit of a given. When I moved to China I was fortunate enough to be moving a country where I did in fact have family. My uncle moved to this part of the world over a decade ago, so that certainly helped placate some of the usual angst people feel when separated from those they care about. My friends on the other hand (I generally keep a pretty small circle) are off gallivanting around the world themselves on their own adventures, I wouldn’t get to see them altogether that much anyway,but I am terribly proud of all of them. Strangely I don’t feel I’ve ever suffered a great deal from homesickness (except during my short stint in the R.A.F after which I was medically discharged). But I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t miss their faces from time to time. Thankfully, however, due to the wonders of this modern world we live in, they aren’t completely out of reach.
The final sub-heading of the day may be a little trickier to explain or communicate. I miss the familiarity being ‘home’ brings. I’ve certainly grown more familiar with Shanghai, Chinese culture and the language to a more acute degree and I’m bound to grow more familiar as time marches on. But it won’t replace the familiarity of meandering around your home town, the place you were born and the place you grew up in. I don’t think anything will ever replace that. It’s not a particularly large problem, it’s just a sign that I’ve taken myself out of my comfort zone, which can only be good for me in the long run. Stepping out of this comfort zone of mine is definitely something I need to push further in the future, if reading this list has taught me one thing, it’s that I rely too much on that which makes me comfortable.
[Image(s) from Unsplash]