From Changchun to Courtenay

I'm finally back in Courtenay, following an 11-hour train trip overnight from Changchun to Beijing, a day spent in 40 degree weather, and a 14 hour plane flight from Beijing to Vancouver. I slept most of the way to Courtenay, and then slept for another 15 hours or so. There is now a tension inside me. I already miss the fact that I am given a lot of attention, mostly because of the fact that I'm a white guy and speak some Chinese. Almost everywhere I went, people would look at me with curiosity. At the nightclubs, girls would look and smile, and when I was dancing, would dance with me, only without saying a word. Chinese women seem to like white men only out of curiosity. Chinese men are pretty interested too; I remember once at the night market in Changchun, I felt pretty uncomfortable when one man came up to me and just stared at me. Good and bad I guess. But when I was in China, I did miss North American magazines, music, books, and TV. And of course my friends.

But in Canada, I'm just another white guy, and it's going to take a little getting used to the fact that instead of being surrounded by Chinese, I'm surrounded by white people. In Courtenay, it's more noticeable, because the population is 95% white. After I graduate from Simon Fraser University, my overriding goal will be to find employment in China, because even though I was a foreigner, and at times felt unwelcome and uncomfortable, I think China is country I would like to spend a longer time in, so that I can more fully get used to that wonderful country. China definitely has a very long way to go to catch up to developed countries like Canada, the United States and Western Europe. But from what I've seen, China is on the path to be a formidable presence in the world economy, and democracy, still a concept unknown to many Chinese, is coming, if not soon. The Chinese are very practical people, and will adapt whatever has been given them. After all, their contact with Western civilization is still very new, and has been at many points in its history a very unpleasant experience.

I learned a lot about China, my own country, and most importantly, myself. I made a lot of friends, Chinese and otherwise (with Japanese, Russian, Africans and Canadians being among the international students studying there). I learned much about the Chinese language, and I hope to continue my Chinese studies at SFU, so that when I return to China (as soon as financially possible), I will be able to communicate better with one quarter of the world's population.