“It is both exciting and humbling to see how big, how varied, how incredible this world can be. No place exemplifies this better than China.”
– Anthony Bourdain in No Reservations (China)
Studying communications at California Lutheran University has prepared me to be media literate.
I learned the dance and tricks of advertising and marketing firms in America and could withstand the wooing of brands claiming to give me everything I want with a simple swipe of a credit card. After being taught the dance, and the importance of not falling for the romance of marketed desire and greed, I have come to love my new dance partner: South African media.
Within the span of two months, I’ve transformed into a local.
The only differences are the shock of blonde hair, physical stature and skin tone, and the curious habit of speaking in English interspersed with mispronounced Mandarin.
Alright, so maybe I’m not a local. But I like to think that I’ve adapted relatively well! At any rate, I’ve experienced quite a bit since my wide-eyed arrival.
Here are 10 lessons learned in the mega-city of Shanghai:
Beer and fried food are a match made in heaven.
No one in their right mind questions that statement. However, deciding which fried food to grub on after a long night of Tsingtao interspersed with shots of dubious Chinese rice wine can be difficult.
Luckily, drunken hedonists all across Shanghai agree that bing is the kingpin of trashy, late-night snacks.
When I found the position with the ELCA as a global missionary I almost lost my breath in disbelief that such a job would exist.
The description was exactly what I had studied as an undergrad at CLU. The job was in one of my favorite countries I visited when I studied abroad with SAS. The organization was through a church that I am proud to be a part of. It was a dream job.
Forget everything you thought you knew about alphabets, syntax, or grammar in general.
Then proceed to turn your brain upside down in a desperate attempt to make sense of what remains. Try pressing F5 to refresh if 中文 fails to load properly.
Coming from a small town, being on display is nothing new to me.
It seems that everyone else is secure in who they are to the outside world. They know their place, where they are, and what it means to be South African. I’m still discovering what it means to be American, and yet I’m not just on display, but I’m also a window into the USA.