I’ve been thinking recently about my adventures in China. Sometimes I have this homesickness for places in Yantai and Beijing, even though I’m pretty sure that with pace of change in China, those spots are completely different now.
I struggled with my Mandarin pretty much every day I was there. The Chinese will give any attempt beyond a toneless knee how a great deal of praise, but let’s be honest, my Mandarin is pretty rough.
One of my most exciting days was when I was in the local vegetable market, and the vendor mentioned it had been very cold recently. This was mindblowing, because I had slowly and painfully brought my Chinese abilities up to identifying the vegetables I wanted, how many I wanted, and bargaining down from Complete Idiot Price to a decent foreigner-tax. This is hard, you guys. Tones! Reading signs! Anyway, one day the vendor commented that it had been cold recently, using the past-tense marker le, and I agreed.
And I am still proud of myself, years later.
Sometimes, I really miss those tiny exciting moments of expat life.