It's amazing how Hangzhou feels like home. It's good to be here. To be back in a city that is bustling with people, but hardly ever overwhelming. I love the sounds of the water truck singing the "birthday song" and finding new pirated dvd stores. I love the Muslim family where I get Muslim noodles, I can't believe how BIG the sons have gotten in the past 3 months! I love that when I went to buy a milk tea and some bread from familiar faces, they exclaimed, "Ni Hui Lai!
(You came back!) I like my 'hood, I like my people, I like my home, and I LOVE my bunny!
(Good bye Tampa!)
The first night back in Hangzhou after spending the night in Shanghai, I went salsa dancing with my friend Angel. I met a lot of awesome people and saw some familiar Chinese faces and was reminded of the fast pace of life here from last year. After 3 months of sitting on my butt, Hangzhou is a little overwhelming! haha.
As amazing as it was to be back, my joyful return took a turn for the dark side on my second day in Hangzhou when my purse was stolen out of my cart in the grocery store and I fractured my ankle on the walk home, all within the same hour. I spent the evening in the local hospital (note to self: NEVER go to a Chinese hospital again) getting x-rays and being wheeled around in a wheelchair. There were glimpses of humor in the situation as fellow hospital go-ers asked me to take photos with them. I guess a redhead in a wheelchair is a hot commodity for the cell-phone photo cache. I decided in a fit of despair that I did not want to be here, that returning to China was a dumb mistake, that I was not cut out for this again and that living on the 5th floor with a fractured foot was impossible. It took one good cry to mom via skype and 3 friends to call within an hour checking on me to realize that this could happen anywhere and that bad things happen to everyone. (cue: "suck it up, Jessica").
I now mostly sit in my apartment, pretending to work on my thesis, waiting for my foot to get better, and having multiple guests each day. I have been reminded how provided for I am here because there are many people who have brought me food, cared for me, called me daily, and expressed their love. It is weird, but I feel more community here in Hangzhou than at home through this experience. I am reminded that everywhere we go in life we will not be stranded. There are good people everywhere. I am so thankful for my Hangzhou friends who sit with me, laugh with me, and make fun of my lack of ability to walk on crutches.
Classes at the university began this week. I met about 240 students in 8 classes on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I love love love my job, so it was a good distraction from my dumb foot, except for when I retired home each day with a purple foot from standing on it all day. I'm excited about beginning the new year with my new students, even though it takes about a zillion bolts of energy to begin to forge relationships with these new students, most of whom have never encountered someone from another country before. Their homework for this week is to choose an english name for themselves, It should be interesting to see what they come up with next week! One student emailed me that he wants a name "that will rock somebody". haha. I love my job.
It's been an interesting welcome back to Hangzhou, but despite the low points, there are infinite good things. I'm excited for this year, to find my routine, and to be settled. There is no fear this time around, no anxiety about how to survive, there's much less emotional hullabaloo. Im here. This is where I live. And there is no where else in the world I would rather be today than Hangzhou, China.