Back to America

For the first time in over four years, I’m going to back to America for my father’s wedding in San Francisco from September 27th to October 2nd. Am I nervous? Sure. Here are some things that I expect to be bothersome or what I think I’ll find strange:

  1. Using American money, and for that matter, money. Everything I pay for, including groceries, my rent, utility bill, drinks, I use my phone. China is truly transforming into a cashless society.
  2. Listening in on other people’s conversations. If I don’t listen carefully, then I can’t understand Chinese people, which makes sitting in a restaurant or bar with my English speaking friends feel very comfortable. But when I occasionally hear another foreigner speak English, I automatically hear and understand what they are saying, which is annoying. 
  3. Not being able to get around on my scooter. I ride that thing around 25km per day. To work, the gym, a bar, a date, to the grocery store. Best thing I’ve bought in China. 
  4. Seeing so many white people. In Beijing, I stand out. At times, most of the time, I’m the only white person in an area. 
  5. Chatting with people whose native language is English, but aren’t my friend. I casually chat in Chinese to the taxi driver or the lady at the bank, but the only English I speak in China is with my friends, girls I know, or the people I work with. There aren't any day-to-day formalities using English
  6. The structure and rigidity of America scare me. The police, people following the rules of the road, no electric scooters, people wait their turn in line. It’s annoying that people here in China don’t do it, but at the same time, that’s what I’ve become accustomed to. 
  7. Shopping. I’m on vacation; I’m going to shop. But even here in Beijing, 90% of my shopping is done online, thanks to Taobao. Clothes, shoes, furniture, pens, it has everything. 
  8. Seeing my family
  9. The air quality. Let’s face it, Beijing has shit air, so it's going to be weird being back somewhere that isn’t polluted
  10. Not having my routine. In Beijing, I have a pretty regular schedule. Work, gym, dinner, and on some days, I have a livestream show (part-time job). It will be weird being on vacation in a country that I used to call home
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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City).