If I Could Go Home...

July 6, 2017
This is one expat girl who has been away from home without visiting for too long! I haven't been back once since I left for China in 2015. The experiences I've gone through have made me want to go return even more. Tomorrow I have an appointment with my doctor, and if he clears me to fly, I am buying the first ticket outta here. Okay, so not really. I'm going to have to do a lot of price comparisons because I have to buy a Business Class ticket. Totally wish I could get a free upgrade for medical reasons, but that's not going to happen. Anyway, I am hoping (that's the understatement of the year) that the doctor will tell me I'm healing nicely from my surgery and that he wishes me a great trip back to the States. Fingers crossed!

Lately, I've been imagining what I might do once I get home. While I do love Shanghai for many reasons, there are just some things about home that I miss--that's only natural, right? Plus, right now all of my friends are home or out traveling and I'm all alone. A week has passed and I haven't even spoken once. If I could get to Ohio and finish recovering in the company of my parents, it'd be much more ideal. Here's what I'd do if only I could...

If I could go home, I'd breathe in the fresh air. It's true that the air in Shanghai is generally better in the summer than in other seasons, but even as I write this post, the AQI is at a 78 here and 42 in Columbus, Ohio. My parents' house is in a village an hour away from Columbus, so I imagine that the air there would be even better. At home, looking up the AQI is just not something I do or think about.

I'd spend lots of time seeing my family and friends. That's just a given. I miss my best friend Everett so much! It will be a relief to see my parents after all of my health trauma, too. 

I'd go out and enjoy nature. There are so many perks to living in a huge city, but I do miss seeing (and being in) wide open spaces and fields. It would also be nice to take a walk in the woods.

I'd drive around. It'd be lovely to just go where I want immediately without having to wait for a taxi or for the bus. I just miss driving a bit. The relaxed kind of driving with the windows down accompanied with good music. 

Speaking of music, I cannot wait to listen to the radio! In Columbus, my favorite station is CD 102.5, and I simply miss the spontaneity of not knowing which songs will be played next. Of course, the radio is a great way to discover new artists, too. I feel so out of the loop when it comes to music. Where I lived last year, I listened to Spotify from time to time, but the internet was so slow that it wouldn't always work. I've mostly just been listening to the music on my computer over and over. While I love Mumford and Sons, Adele, and Shakira, I think I've had my fill of them for awhile. 

I'd enjoy being away from the crowds. The other day, my Chinese co-teacher's dad was asking me if Shanghai was what I expected it and how I found the city. I told him one thing that shocked me was the sheer number of people. I can't even remember the last time I walked on a street and did not see another person. Or went to a shop and was the only customer. You get the idea. Obviously, I knew that Shanghai had a huge population before coming here, but as my friend Scott always said,"My life in China is just waiting in line."

I'd shop for clothes and shoes! I can get shirts and dresses at H&M and Old Navy in Shanghai, but pants won't fit me here. Stores carry only up to a size 12, and there are no options for longer lengths. I can also go to the Fabric Market to get clothes made, but I've had some mixed results. It will be so nice to just be able to go into stores and be able to find stuff in my size! Like, I get why I can't in China, but it's just embarrassing to have to be wearing the same faded pants over and over to work when you know they've seen their better days. As for shoes, some shops carry up to a size 10, but of course I wear a size 11 and so I haven't had much luck in that department. I cannot wait to go into DSW and pick out new shoes--I'm in desperate need of them!

One word: Target. I haven't gone to Target in two years because in China they just have Wal-Mart and Carrefour. I seriously can't wait! I might look for some decor for my new apartment, clothes, shoes, and I'll have to stock up on all of my favorite brands and toiletries that I can't get in China.

I'd try Stitch Fix. I've been waiting to try it, but of course you need an American address.

I'd go to a drive in movie. I do like going to the movies, but with it hurting after sitting for an extended period of time, I prefer to just watch movies at home. At a drive in, I'd be able to recline my seat a lot and get out and stand by my car. Also, drive-in theaters are an American classic, and I used to work at one for a few summers, so factor that nostalgia into the equation.

I would try to join in a swap for bloggers. I've seen a few swaps going on, and even though the hosts say they are open internationally, it's just too hard for me to do it in China. Letters from my parents take about 1.5-2 months to get here. A package my dad sent took 3 months, and he even air mailed it. I just quit ordering stuff after I spent $100 on clothes and they never arrived. If you know of any swaps in late July-mid August, do let me know!

I'd go to my favorite restaurants. Regarding food, in Shanghai I'm pretty spoiled and can find almost everything that I want. Heck, they even opened a Taco Bell here last year, although I haven't gone there yet. What I do miss are the hole in the wall local places and of course diners. There are a few chain restaurants I miss, too. People make fun of me for this one all the time, but I miss eating at Bob Evans! Such an Ohio thing, I know. I miss their breakfast being served all day and their banana bread. I also wouldn't mind some guac and chips from Chipotle right now...just saying.

I'd drink some Ohio wine. There are actually quite a few wineries in Ohio, and I'd love to revisit a few of my favorites like Silver Moon Winery.

I'd drink a free refill. Such an American thing, but I will be taking advantage of a second cup of coffee or another lemonade.

A stop at the library would be on my list. I have missed going into libraries and checking out all the books I want to read for free! I download books here on my Kindle, but of course I have to pay. Spending $13.99 here and $7.99 there can really start to add up.

I'd try all the Starbucks drinks I've been missing out on. In Shanghai, it seems like there is a Starbucks around every corner, but the special drinks here are not the same as they are in the States and cater to the local tastes. While I do like some of the specialty drinks here in China, I want to at least try one Unicorn Frap (Can I even do that? Or was that a promotion that's over?) and a pink drink.

I'd go grocery shopping. Besides missing food at restaurants, I miss certain brands from the States. I know it's kind of silly and I shouldn't be eating this crap anyway, but oh my gosh...I'm dying for a bowl of Reese's Puffs or Lucky Charms!

I'd revisit all of my favorite places like Amish Country, Columbus, Cleveland, and maybe even Hocking Hills.

I'd go online without needing a VPN! So freeing and so much less of a hassle. Do you know how many times my VPN has disconnected just while trying to type this post? At least five.

I'd use soft, fluffy towels that have been dried in a dryer. Just thinking about that now seems so luxurious. Our apartments aren't furnished with dryers, and I typically hang my clothes up to dry anyway, but I do miss having a dryer just for the towels!

If I could (health permitting and not right away), I'd take a road trip. Rachael and I have been talking about going to Nashville.

I'd drink some tap water. It will be nice to be at home and not have to worry about ordering water and figure out who will lift it for me, etc.

Last but not least, I'd enjoy having softer hair! I don't know what kinds of chemicals are in the water here in Shanghai, but my hair has suffered. My parents have a water softener, so my hair is going to be quite different if I'm able to go home.

While I do love Shanghai for many reasons, sometimes there's nothing better than the comforts of home! What do you miss from home or from a place you've visited?
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