I’m not totally sure what’s happening to me right now, but I miss China.

I’ve spent the last two hours reading and re-reading my blog. And I get it. I cognitively understand all the reasons that I was so miserable, and I still wholeheartedly maintain that leaving was the right choice for me. But for the last two weeks I’ve been consumed by this strong, strong craving to go back and visit.

I think it all started with Micah. My friend Micah, who works with me at Cheesecake, is leaving for the Middle Kingdom in a few short weeks to visit his sister who teaches in Xinzheng. As his trip has drawn near, we’ve had a handful of conversations about what he’s going to do and where he’s going to visit. I think this is what triggered my China-brain; I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all the things I liked about China, all the stuff that I could experience again if I visited.

So, I’m making another list. Maybe this will help me.

The things I miss about China:

1. My hamster, Garbanzo. I seriously think about that little nugget almost every day. I’m too scared to check in on him because if he’s dead, my heart will be dead.

2. The lady who sometimes sold chicken sandwiches on the street across from my school who would get really excited when she saw me crossing the street to buy food from her.

3. The crazy-excited feeling I got waiting in the train station because it meant we were going somewhere exciting. This does not include train trips where we were returning to Shijiazhuang.

4. I miss everything about the Silk Market in Beijing. Everything. The weird plastic threshold you had to cross when you left the subway platform, all the kitschy stuff on your way up the stairs, hearing “YOU, GIRL, COME HERE GIRL” when I walked past every booth, nearly making grown Chinese men cry when I bartered with them….everything. I’ve never felt more independent and powerful than I did in the Silk Market.

5. Having no idea what was going on around me, in a good way. Granted there were lots of times when this was a bad thing, but sometimes it was just hilarious.

6. Sunrise Hostel in Beijing. Mostly how they kept their bar open all night for us on multiple occasions. And that everyone there spoke moderate to good English and was very helpful. And for that awesome sign that someone put up in the bar. “China: We came, we saw, we were conquered”.

7. The baozi place between Tianenmen and Sunrise. God, I have dreams about those dumplings. DREAMS.

8. Crossing the street like I was God. And by that I mean that I basically stopped looking before I crossed the street after about a month because I realized there were rarely breaks in traffic and everyone stopped for me when I was right in front of their car. ……I’m probably really lucky I wasn’t hit by a car, in retrospect.

9. Chinese babies. I maintain they are the cutest babies. Even when they poop in the street.

10. The Pudong district of Shanghai. Those skyscrapers were amazing. Especially when we went up into the Hilton lobby and looked over the whole skyline. I swear I couldn’t breathe for a second.

11. The stray cat outside of Ike’s apartment that I made friends with in Shanghai

12. Fudan University, the university in Shanghai where there were approximately twelve cats wherever you looked. Stop talking about cats, Emily.

13. One last cat: the orange cat with the gravely voice that visited our school sometimes. “LOVE ME”

14. The Bund, the portion of Shanghai that has really European architecture and looks out to Pudong.

15. Almost everything about Shanghai. That city is breathtaking.

16. How everything is completely soaked in culture and history. I felt it the most in Beijing and Xi’an, but in any big Chinese city, everything is built around cultural landmarks and there is a lot of history to everything around you.

17. The food. If I made a comprehensive list of all the food I ate there that I would miss, you guys would hate me. Some highlights: lamb shaokao, Beijing duck, Yang Rao Pao Mo,  noodles from our Muslim restaurant (RIP restaurant).

18. Icey, the little girl I tutored, and her grandfather, who loved the mess out of me.

19. The way the air in Hong Kong smells like ocean, no matter where you were. Maybe I was disillusioned and that was actually just how non-polluted air smelled, but I was so excited.

20. The Hong Kong skyline from Victoria Point.

Honorable mention: Koh Samet, which technically can’t be on this list because it’s in Thailand, not China. But that little island was a major highlight of my time abroad. I wish I could go back and eat Pad Thai on the beach and watch little boys go fetch coconuts for us to drink out of. Motorbike accident and all, it was amazing.


Maybe this will help alleviate my China-brain. Maybe.


  1. Hi, stumbled across your blog. I am in Beijing at the moment, just moved her to study for 2 years. So far I am loving it but understand it can get tough at times. This post made me laugh, smile, sympathise and I completely empathise with almost everything! I think I will save this page for when I am feeling homesick to remind me how incredible a place it is.

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