Monday, March 24, 2014

Both homes have their strengths and weaknesses

I naturally gravitate towards thoughts of what I lack rather than what I have. I have to remind myself to look at what I already have and have been given. I would guess most people naturally do the same, but I don't want to presume too much.

Unexpectedly back in the US, I have to remind myself often of the good things I have here. People in China used to ask me whether China or the US was a better place. I used to respond that they both have strengths and weaknesses. Now I remind myself that my life in both places, though different, had and have both good aspects and not as good. Let me alternate through a few, eleven to be exact.

Advantage US: The food is safer here. That is, we worry less that unsafe food is going to hurt us.

Advantage China: Changsha has public transit; it's wonderful. The US built up around car culture, and now we all basically need them and their accompanying expenses. I hate it on a daily basis.

Advantage US: The air is cleaner here. The air pollution in Changsha is is nothing to sneeze at (but coughing is certainly likely).

Advantage China: In Changsha, basically everything you needed for daily life could be obtained just outside your door. In the US, residential and business areas are often quite separate.

Advantage US: In the US, my son can get the medical care he needs. In Changsha, he'd would already undoubtedly be mentally handicapped. (This is obviously a HUGE plus for the US.)

Advantage China: In Changsha my kids had regular playmates. I mean, we walk outside and there are all the kids in the development playing together outside. Here... You all know what it's like in the US: play dates, meeting times, etc. My kids have take a huge social step back.

Advantage US: In the US, I don't have to think about people going crazy about my kids, trying to touch them, prod them, etc. Here we're just a normal family, which I appreciate.

Advantage China: I miss the the renao, the commotion, of China. Social activities and social venues might be loud and busy in the States, but they're nothing line Changsha. On a recent date with my wife, did we pick a quite romantic location? Nope. It was a loud "grill and bar"/ We felt right at home.

Advantage US: The internet in the US is wide open, so I don't need a vpn to access internet content or blog. If I couldn't access Youtube, I'd have no way to take the courses in which I'm currently enrolled.

Advantage China: I had better reading times in Changsha. The 45-60 minutes I spent on buses commuting to and from work were great reading times. Now I'm busy at home (like I was in Changsha). I will be busy at work (like I was in Changsha). But given the lack of public transportation options in most of the US, reading times have become harder to locate.

Advantage US: The US public library system is amazing! Of course it could be better, as could all things, but I certainly won't complain.

Advantage (mostly) China: We're now considered a low-income family. That just adds a stressor I didn't have before. In other ways it's a positive: It will force us to be more creative; we'll rely more on faith; we'll truly be laobaixing. And I can be thankful that China taught me to be low demand with regards to my material environment.

So those were just a few I've thought of recently. There are others. Are there any that you have experienced when moving from one place to another?

1 comment:

  1. Matt I love your blog! I thought I was going to miss out on all your contemplations and reflections -- but here is this blog! Your speculations on Barnabas' perspective caused me stop and consider how my own kids are feeling and thinking about, what they are needing from Drew and me right now. I like this post too -- it shows your thankfulness even when feeling some losses and I think highlights the need to be content and trusting God in feast or fallow.