Happy journey home puts China in new light

By Joshua Cartwright
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, April 13, 2016
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I'd had enough of the choking air which made me feel like a smoker again. I'd had enough of feeling like an outsider due to my lack of fluency in the language.

After one year, these negatives were eclipsing the feelings of adventure and newness that had accompanied my amblings in Shanghai, so I decided that it was time to go home. It also helped that my one-year language program had just concluded, so my visa was about to expire and all of my friends were leaving — all semblances of the life I'd put together were disappearing, so why shouldn't I?

A taxi took me to the airport, where I fortunately made the flight that I'd almost slept through (again). Some 15 hours later, I was staring at the singularly ugly carpet that welcomes Portlanders home. I made my way through security, embraced my father, and fell asleep in the car as we coasted down a virtually empty highway.

I spent the next ten days catching up with my father and the few friends who still remain in my hometown. Portland's fresh air, open landscape and greenery were welcome changes, changes that carried on to my visit to my mother in Palo Alto. Though a tad less green, wonderful food, drink, and company were in equally abundant supply.

I continued to take refuge in these familiarities even after moving, at the beginning of last September, to New York: the journalism capital of America.

Where better to learn how to do this gig professionally? The opportunities are as bountiful as the competition is stiff. Unfortunately, I've met with mostly the latter, and now work part-time as a host at an authentic, upscale Shanghainese restaurant in the TriBeCa neighborhood of lower Manhattan while doing freelance on the side.

So I left China only to work in a Chinese restaurant. But the job pays decently, allows me time to write, and gives me the opportunity to practice my Mandarin.

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