Saturday, December 27, 2008

America the Beautiful

What a nice change from China to come to U.S. It's so CLEAN here! The snow-capped mountains as you fly into LA are breathtaking. I do love it here. Efficiency and order are actually valued. Nobody is peeing (or worse) in the street, there are no horrid smells to assault your olfactory senses, the meat you buy you can be fairly sure is actual meat and not a former pet. There are restrooms in the restaurants and stores and malls - AND they have actual western toilets (not holes in the floor), toilet paper, soap and paper towels. People wash their hands, for the most part.

When we wanted to special order something at a restaurant I started to stress out immensely, wondering how we were going to explain what we wanted. Lo and behold, the waiter understood what we wanted the first time around! NO LANGUAGE BARRIER! I can take a shower in water that doesn't smell like feet, and not have to worry if I open my mouth by mistake when I shower. I can DRINK TAP WATER! We can drive here. I can turn on the radio and hear beautiful, normal music. I can turn on the TV and understand what they are saying on every single channel (yes, I can speak Spanish, ha ha). Nobody stares at us or wants to take our kids' pictures...we blend here. Everybody blends because everybody looks different - so different - here. It's such a beautiful country.

I can go to any website I want to and download or listen to whatever I want - there is a Chinese firewall that is pretty effective in not allowing many things through, whether due to censorship or copyright laws. Either way it can be a PITA (Pain In The #$%) to listen to a music sample or even go to a webpage that discusses personal freedoms...but in the U.S. it's something most people take for granted.

When we drive, people for the most part obey the traffic laws and respect each other. People bump into you and say "excuse me". When you sneeze somebody will say "God bless you."

Don't get me wrong - I do love China and I love living there. It's exciting and interesting and in some ways, more simple than living here. But what a lovely, fantastic treat to spend some time in my home country. Americans, you've got it good. Please don't ever forget this. With great personal freedom comes great responsibility. And it's a good thing.


Beth said...

Michelle, It's so good to hear from you!!

I can completely understand your post. I think that was some of the culture shock we experienced (although, I feel like we got off pretty easy, really), that fact that we had gotten so used to non-normal being *normal*! It's funny, we've been back in the States for a year now (a bit over), and both Adam and I miss Korea terribly. We talk about it all the time, contemplate how we could move back and (embarrassingly, for myself) even dream about it :) I know we're remembering the good times, but I *do* remember how hard it was. The days of sadness, homesickness. But I also remember the joy in finding tomato soup at Costco!! I'm so glad you're home for the holidays. How long will you be "home", and how much longer do you have in China? I think I remember you going in September? Is that right?

Merry Christmas, my friend!!

love, beth

heidy said...

hey Michelle and the rest of the Behling crew!
Sure glad you are enjoying your stay in the US and your time with family! Will you going right back to China from California?
I know your Christmas was MERRY!
Happy New Year to you all!
I am really glad to have you to remind all of us how lucky we are to live in the US of A! Because many times we just plain forget how great freedom is! and how much we take for granted!
hugs to all of you Michelle!
heidy & crew

Angie said...

I am so glad that you all are enjoying your time with your family. Cooper is getting ready to study Ancient Chinese culture and customs. They will be studying this for the first four weeks. I am not sure when you are getting back, but anything that you could share would be very much appreciated. Email me when you have a minute, my computer address book has disappeared and I don't have your email.
Happy New Year,