It’s been over a year since my last post and almost 4 years since I blogged regularly. You would have thought that I’d chronicle like crazy when I moved to China. And indeed, that was my plan. I just looked at my drafts folder and I have 37 posts started or planned–all from my first few months in China.
So why didn’t I write?
Well, there are multiple reasons.
- Culture Shock: When I first moved to China, I was completely overwhelmed by everything that was happening to me. I didn’t realize how much I experienced culture shock until much later. And because everything was so new to me, I had a hard time processing it all in any sort of efficient or public manner. I was also overwhelmed by the sheer number of new things to write about. In a very short amount of time, I took hundreds of pictures and had so many new experiences, I got very far behind in writing and couldn’t keep up. And a closely related reason. . .
- Perfectionism: After I got so far behind in writing, I didn’t want to jump in with the current experiences. I was too much of a perfectionist. I should’ve just started writing about the things that I was experiencing at the time, but I kept thinking I should start at the beginning.
- Cultural Sensitivity: I didn’t want to say things that were culturally insensitive while dealing with culture shock. I didn’t want to embarrass myself or others with what I wrote. I’ve read and heard–and probably said–horrendous things that foreigners say about China because of their culture shock. I want to be open-minded and accepting of the Chinese culture and people. As Chinese people often say, “China has a 5000 year history.” The American way is not the only way–or even the right way–to do things; while living in China, I want to learn more about the Chinese way of doing things. It’s extremely difficult to adapt to a new language, culture, job, and living situation; I don’t want to make it worse by approaching life in China from a proud, selfish, closed-minded, American-centric view point. The whole reason I’m here in China is to show love and to help improve Chinese society, so I don’t want to set up barriers that will prevent me from having a good relationship with Chinese people.
- Un-originality: There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs about moving to and teaching in China. I didn’t feel like I had anything new to add. Indeed, when I read Peter Hessler’s River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze during my first year in China, I realized that many of my experiences as a new teacher in China were not unique.
- Poor internet connections: In China, it is often difficult to access sites such as this. Internet speeds are slow, and many sites are blocked. Sometimes it is just impossible to access my blog.
So why am I going to start writing again now?
- Memories: I realized that by not writing down my experiences, I’m missing out on a valuable way of preserving memories. When I look back on my old posts, I’m reminded of the many places I’ve lived and visited, the people I’ve met, and the things I’ve learned. I’m afraid that I’ve already forgotten a lot of things that happened to me durging the first few years of living here in China, but as I look through pictures and write about things I experienced, I hope to recover and record some of those memories.
- Support: This summer, many friends and family members expressed an interest in hearing more about my life in China. I realized that my extremely infrequent status updates and pictures on Facebook and my completely non-existent blogs were keeping me from a valuable means of support. So because my friends are curious about China and want to know more about how to better support me, I’ve decided to write more frequently.
- Writing practice: Although I have written almost daily in my personal journals, I haven’t written anything for publication–even in such an informal venue as a blog–in a very long time. I want to become a better writer, and I know from my own experience and from a lot of research, that writing more will help me to improve my writing abilities.
So thank you for joining me as I begin chronicling my experiences in China. I’ll focus on current events but I also plan on writing “flashbacks” of trips and experiences from my first four years here.
Is there something in particular you want to know about? Please leave a comment and I may write about that topic in the future.