I live in Beijing, I can get most of what I want since it is a city of 23 million people, give or take a few million. I also don’t live in an area of town where there are lots of expatriates so it is harder to find the things I want and miss. If I did live in Sanlitun or Shunyi, I’d probably be more likely to find them and not get homesick very much.
Thinking about it, I actually don’t get homesick very often. I think it has happened once or twice in the whole 6 months I’ve been living here.
I would have thought, with the language, culture, time, and everything else difference, that it would have happened more often.
I guess it goes to show how much I feel welcomed by my family, which includes my brother Robert here in Beijing, and the rest of my family around the world, Jill being here, my amazing group of friends, both here and abroad, and my wonderful job.
I honestly think I’ve never been so content with my life and in the knowledge of how many possibilities and adventures are out there for me every single day.
That being said, there are a few things that I do miss:
1. Being able to get somewhere easily/transportation. This includes being able to understand bus routes, talking to cab drivers, getting simple directions from someone or giving the directions to them, and the speed of google maps back home in the USA where they download in seconds, not minutes, or more likely, never.
2. Seedless grapes: Yep, we have yet to find seedless grapes. Really not a tragedy on the grand scale of things but it is interesting that the grocery stores we shop at don’t seem to have them.
3. Yummy American wines at fair prices: Chinese wines are young and cheap. Which is great if you want to have some 2 buck Changyu, but not if you want some really tasty wines. Chilean wines are quite good and they have a tax deal with the Chinese government and so they aren’t outrageously priced. Sadly, it seems as if the EU and American wines are pretty highly taxed and so it makes it difficult to buy decent wine at a fair price.
Let me rephrase that. It is almost impossible to even buy decent American wine. When we do find it, it is usually Carlo Rossi, Gallo, Turning Leaf (subsidiary of Gallo), or very low grade Mondavi. And they cost about 30 USD a bottle. For wine that would cost about 7 bucks in the USD. So, we tend to stick with the cheap Chinese wine which is good enough for now.
By the way, I think that Chinese wine will be very good in about 5-10 years. They are putting loads of money, time, and effort into connecting with wineries around the world and learning everything they need to know to make the highest quality wines. I’m interested in seeing how they progress in the next few years.
4. Spices are hard to find for everyday cooking. We have to travel about 45 minutes, to the expatriate areas, to find them and they are fairly expensive. This also includes other foods like pickles, olives, sauerkraut (which we LOVE), and other condiments that seem ubiquitous in america.
5. Mustard: Oh, I miss my mustard. I’ve never been a fan of catsup, which they seem to have in abundance, and this has only become more definite as I’ve lived in China. I do, however, love mustard. I love it on pretty much anything that most people put catsup on. Or, if you are European, whatever you put mayonnaise on. It is almost unheard of here in Beijing. When I ask for it at restaurants, I use the Mandarin word for it and most servers are utterly confused. Then, in their attempt to be helpful, they bring out wasabi, which we all know is used of sushi. I have pretty much stopped even asking for it and given up hope at this point. We also have to travel about 45 minutes to buy small mustard bottles as mentioned above. It is a luxury here.