Right now, I’m using the backpack I bought in China for my notebook and textbooks, which makes dragging a schoolbag to work in order to study on my breaks slightly less depressing. It’s lovely because I keep finding Yangzhou ephemera in my Carrboro life, and I could use the reminders of my adventure back at home. I find my loyalty card from Sir Coffee or an yi yuan coin tucked in one of the pockets, and I remember that I’m someone who lives abroad and has foreign adventures, even if, at that moment, I’m also someone who’s looking for her car keys.
I’ve ended up with my Yangzhou-Shanghai train ticket as a bookmark, and my Chinese coworker happened to see it.
“A rail ticket?” he asked. “No foreigners ever take the train!”
I smiled, because this is basically independent confirmation that I see The Real ChinaTM and not the lame Tourist China. (Also, I’m still insanely proud of myself for speaking enough Mandarin to buy a ticket. That was several sentences in a row, you guys.)
“Eww, you paid full price for this.” he said, “Why would you do that?”