Culture Shock: I just want a damn baozi!

It’s a bit of a shock being surrounded by Western people again, and I am a white British, purely Western girl. I’m a foreigner again, surrounded by people who look just like me.

I just want to dive into the nearest ‘Spicy China Restaurant’ in hopes of some Mandarin/Sichuanese practise and familiar, friendly company, and a vegetable baozi. It started with the lingering excitement each time I saw another Western-looking person, however in Australia those are in abundance and after being met with scowl after scowl instead of the kind, curious glances I had become so accustomed to, I have found myself reaching towards the Asian presence, each Chinese person I see I just want say “I know, I can see it now.”

There is such an obvious contrast between Chengdu and Sydney in regards to the people. In Chengdu, The people I encountered were kind, humble, authentic, hard working and eager to explore the world. Here in Sydney people seem self-assured and entitled in a way I must have been, must still be. This isn’t a bad thing; I actually find people here pretty impressive, they all seem so confident, driven. People say China follows the West in their development, their copycat culture stigmatised and used to seperate, but seeing Sydney’s leaps towards the future, it seems lacking in comparison to what I saw in China; like charades in the face of real movement. The atmosphere her is coarse, it’s held together just by the assumption that it should, that we deserve this. It’s corkboard held together with string and covered over with over-priced vintage decor. But I’ve been here two days, what do I know?

It might just be because I’m missing Chengdu and InternChina and all the amazing people I’ve come to know over the last two months, but I think I belong in China. This morning I signed up to do my HSK exam, with a course in Chinese speaking to keep me moving towards this. If you want something, go out and get it.

Before the next adventure, I am here, and it sounds silly but it’s pretty humbling, and freeing, knowing there’s no way I could possibly live up, physically, to the crazy attractive people here, and the party packpacker girls. I can just be me, messy, sunburnt, independent me, and I have never been somewhere that’s made me want to get fit this much. That sounds pretty self-depricating but honestly I feel good about it; it’s a source of positive motivation and I have the freedom here to just wander, flail around until I get it right, with no lasting judgement, hopefully.

Last night I went out and drank and danced: the breakdown of foundations, controlled recklessness, proof that I am entirely responsible for my own choices and an excuse to let me hair down and throw my arms around; to reset, refresh. This morning I went on a tour of Sydney, to re-establish a foundation and familiarise myself with the layout of the city. You have to find the balance. Now I will throw out some emails to the best design agencies in the city;  a follow-up to the push for work I did in the lead-up to this.

Wish me luck, I don’t want to go home yet.

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