What we miss (and don’t)

So, you may be wondering, what do Liz and JM miss after 4 months outside of the US? And, what don’t we miss that we thought we would before we left? Well, here’s a short list (we will not be talking about the obvious things like friends and family – YES, we miss you all terribly!).


Our oven! Ovens do exist here, but they’re a luxury that few can afford.

The comfort of blending right into your own culture. Everywhere we go, we are different. In a given setting, we may not always be sure of the social context. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to communicate, and sometimes we long for the ease of being in a group of Americans! We are also the objects of LOTS of second glances and curiosity, which we’ve grown more and more accustomed to over the past 4 months. Nonetheless, sometimes we really would like to blend in!

In a word: YOGA. (This is Liz writing. For the record, JM does NOT and will never miss Yoga.)

Foods we miss: Chocolate, Cheese, Good Wine, Avocados, Good Cheap Coffee (no one sells decaf here, and the coffee they do have is very expensive), Deli Meat, BREAD, Hommos, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Western Spices (Funny though, we don’t really miss lettuce salads.) AND, we especially miss all the fabulous restaurants in New Haven (Thai Taste, Sitar, SUSHI Palace!, Istanbul, Claire’s, Pepe’s and Sally’s, Modern Apizza, The Pantry, etc, etc, etc!).

US Sports Coverage on TV – We do wish we could watch a good game now and then!

Fresh air and clean water: We are coughing a bit more and inhaling a lot more dust, and we buy bottled water every day. We certainly appreciate the quality of American air and water!

A soft bed mattress. As far as we can tell, we are actually pretty lucky to have a mattress. Beds of criss-crossed ropes are not uncommon here.

Space: It is crowded here. There really are a LOT of Chinese people. And we thought New England was crowded.

Toilet paper and hand soap in restrooms; we make sure to bring our own.


Our clothes drier – not a big deal once we got the hang of doing laundry this way… Even with a baby and all the laundry that entails.

Carseats and strollers: Let’s face it, carseats (while admittedly safer), are annoying. We don’t know a baby who loves his/her carseat. We don’t drive our own car, and there aren’t seatbelts in the taxis to hook up a carseat. People do use strollers here, but we don’t know how they navigate the sidewalks and ad hoc construction zones with them. Plus, hauling a stroller up and down 96 stairs to our apartment sounds backbreaking. Not to mention, Leo is more protected from all the attention he gets here while in our arms or in our carrier. So, to heck with carseats and strollers!

Driving our own car – we just don’t need (or want) a car here. Everything we need is within walking or bussing distance. Navigating the streets of Nanjing in a car also sounds a little scary. It’s pretty organized, but still a bit cutthroat.

Endless supplies of hot water: We have a solar water heater on our roof and it heats a certain quantity of hot water for us each day when the sun is out. It saves a tremendous amount of electricity.

Toilets with seats: You may or may not know that Asian toilets are holes in the ground (with plumbing, of course), and so no one sits in restrooms. It is quick and can be clean (as long as you don’t slip on the floor).

For all the things we miss, we are having constant adventures exploring our new territory and are feeling more and more at home here. People are indeed curious, but also very friendly – asking us what kind of food we eat, where we’re from, where we live, what we’re doing here, and – our personal favorite – if we know who Michael Jordan is! Although we may not always be at ease and it takes about 10 times as much energy to communicate, it’s incredibly satisfying to be able to have conversations with people who, just a few short months ago, we could barely say hello to in Chinese!


1 Response to “What we miss (and don’t)”

  1. 1 Becca June 23, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    When I was in Austria the only things I missed were Taco Bell and stores being open past 7pm. (It’s hard when you’re studying and don’t have any snacks! :o( )

    As far as your food list goes…yeah. Yeah. I’m with ya. Basically all the same reasons I couldn’t be Vegan.

    So is it possible to send a care package? ;o)

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