中国: Take Me Back To China, But Why?

Heilongjiang, Mudanjiang, China
“When are you going back?” “How long are you here for this time?” “It sucks that you can’t go back with us.” “Where is Angel?!?!”

These are things I hear that are constantly breaking my heart. Every time I’m faced with one of these questions, it feels like someone is pushing in the already sharp knife that’s digging into my heart. Yes, I wanna go back that badly. Everyone that knows me knows that I would do just about anything to be on an Air China plane with the other hundreds of passengers heading back to China. The 15 hour flight from Dulles to Beijing feels like a couple naps and movies for me, and Lord knows I’m a professional nap taker so the flight is nothing but piece of cake with chocolate icing. If someone told me they had a one way ticket to China for me right now, I’d have to fight the temptation not to drop out, even though it was something I contemplated a few times, haha, but what college student doesn’t have this thought in the final year?

“But what’s so great about China?”

Um, everything. My overall health was a lot better while I was in China (besides the pollution, the constant smell of smoke, and the large amounts of alcohol intake on a weekly basis). I walked and rode the bus just about everywhere because there were so many restaurants, shops, malls, parks, and everything else a girl in her early 20’s could ask for within walking distance; on average I would walk over 10,000 steps a day, 20,000 on a good day, while in America some days I can’t even break a thousand. In Maryland, if you’re not driving or calling an Uber, you’re just not going anywhere. Everything is so spread out, and if you’re anything like me and have lived in the small city of Laurel their whole life, you’d know there’s nothing interesting to see out here that hasn’t already been seen.

In China, I lived in the city of Harbin in the Heilongjiang Province. It’s the biggest city in North East China and somewhere that I call my second home. Going back to Harbin really feels more like going home than it does when I come back to America. In Harbin I have my friends, my favorite foods, my side jobs, my education, and an endless amount of opportunities to travel and do whatever I want.

Harbin, China Xuefu Road 4 & Xuefu Road

I became more independent out there. I didn’t have to rely on anybody else to get me from A to B because they have a public transportation system that actually works and doesn’t break your pocket. I would go to my classes in the mornings and twice a week, I would take the 128 bus across town up by the riverside to tutor a Korean boy English. In my free time, I went to the bars, enjoyed hotpot with my best friends, ate my favorite Alibaba BBQ and 韩国炸酱面 (Korean Noodles). I traveled to many places, riding on 24 hour long trains by myself to the south, as well as taking vacations to Beijing or Dalian with my older Chinese friends. There was always some sort of adventure I could find myself in, even if it was just visiting a local arboretum or opera house.

Healthy foods were affordable and if I ate savvy, I could spend less than $20 a week on food if I really wanted to. I could find just about anything so I bought tons of clothes, shoes, bags, and other little trinkets that would otherwise cost me an arm and a leg if I was in America.

The people are some of the most genuine people I have ever met. Of course, I came across the “can I borrow some money” people a few times because I’m American and they assume I have money, but the majority of the people I met while I was in Harbin have become lifelong friends with tons of memories and stories I can’t wait to tell my children a few 10 or so years down the road. People have adopted me into their families and I can call their mom my own. People wanted to know me for me. They didn’t care about where I was from, what I looked like, how many piercings or tattoos I had, or who I liked; they wanted to know me as Angel, which is so rare in America. I have some really great friends here in America too, but all of my friends that have gone to China have ended up back there. It’s just that much better.

3:00 AM photo going to the Songhua River, Harbin, China

I could probably go on forever about how I learned the language and all of my other experiences in China and why I want to go back, but here’s a few:

  1. Public Transportation: I can go anywhere I want in China without selling an organ or two.
  2. The food is affordable, healthy, and delicious.
  3. I’m treated like black royalty. We get free food, free drinks, and free stares.
  4. Peace of mind: I don’t have to worry about my safety or my life being taken away from me.
  5. Genuine relationships: Lifelong friends from all around the world.
“What will you do once you graduate?”

Oh, I’m glad you asked -__-

I don’t know yet. A few different opportunities have been offered to me in China and here in America so I haven’t decided yet. I planned to move to China the second I walked off the stage at graduation, but I’m taking everything one step at a time. As irresponsible as I want to be and up and leave everything here, I know I can’t do that. I’m currently banking on a job that will have me going back and fourth, but the main focus right now is graduation. Once I’m 100% certain I’m graduating next Spring, I can begin making arrangements for the next few years. I’m already excited!

Until next time,

Angel 💖

Harbin, China Xuefu Road 4 Night Market