Our arrival in China has been smooth. From being fetched at the airport to signing up for our own library cards at the top-notch library just a short walk away, everything has gone as expected—some traffic here, a typhoon there, but really well on the whole. Some old friends here have eased our way.
It hasn’t just been the friends from C’s initial training class that we’re overlapping with, though picking their brains has helped enormously. It has also been the familiar sounds and flavors, the feeling of warm rain, of being curiously stared at. The scent of a specific kind of fried chicken took me right back to our night market in Taipei, even as we took a pedestrian overpass above an eight-lane road in our neighborhood.
In meeting new people here, they often want to know, First time in China? And I can see why. This place is foreign from the U.S. in a multitude of ways, sometimes delightful, sometimes frustrating. Our Taiwan frame gives us a reference point on so many of our initial experiences here.
So even though this city of over 15 million makes me feel like a country mouse, and it’s been over 7 years since we left Taiwan, and that technology here lets one pay with the swipe of a phone or hail a taxi with no Chinese ability whatsoever, we have found old friends here, and old friends are nice to have when you’re so far from home.