I’ve Learned- SOL #28

SOLS button 2013


On my ride home from work today, I was reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom and came across a really interesting section of the text that I decided to use as a mentor text. In the section on pages 62-63, when the author is describing the things Eddie learned while at war, he begins each sentence with “He learned…”. I thought I could write a slice about what I’ve learned while living in Shanghai. Here goes.

I’ve learned to tune out the incessant honking. I’ve learned that, contrary to what I previously believed, the sky is not always blue. I’ve learned enough Chinese to make people think I know more than I do. I’ve learned that bikes, even when locked up, can and will disappear. I’ve learned that life with an ayi is pretty rad, and I plan on having one as long as possible. I’ve learned to let things go more. I’ve learned there is more than one right way to do things. I’ve learned that the struggle, even when it seems so impossibly difficult that you want to give up, is worth it. I’ve learned to use chopsticks with ease. I’ve learned that fortune cookies aren’t really a Chinese thing. Oh, and neither is General Tsao’s chicken.

I’ve learned that I don’t need a car, and that I don’t actually miss it all that much. I’ve learned to deal with crazy taxi drivers. I’ve learned that a green flashing man at a crosswalk doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to cross. I’ve learned that brunch is an essential part of my weekend. I’ve learned how to appreciate life more. I’ve learned that friends, especially when you live halfway around the world, can and do become your family. I’ve learned how to survive in a city of 24 million people. I’ve learned to be a vegetarian. I’ve learned to be more tolerant of others. I’ve learned that we pay way too much for DVDs in America. I’ve learned the world isn’t as big as it seems. I’ve learned about the Chinese culture, but I realize I want to know more. I’ve learned that stinky tofu is one of the worst smells to ever assault my nose. I’ve learned the art of bargaining. I’ve learned that Shanghai can be both the best and worst city to live in, even in the span of one day. I’ve learned, as one year turned to two and two years turns to three, that I will forever be different because of this experience.

10 thoughts on “I’ve Learned- SOL #28

  1. AJF (@Anitaferreri)

    What a wonderful reflection on a certainly life changing experience. I loved how you wove the everyday experiences like stinky tofu with the deeper ones like learning tolerance. I even had to stop and look up what an ayi meant! So now, I have learned something from reading your blog!

  2. elsie

    I loved reading this list and peeking into your life in a world so different from life in the US. It makes me wish that I had done something like this when I was younger in my career. What an awesome experience you have. I love the inferences I had to make as I read through your list. I too, googled ayi. 🙂

  3. MOM

    I only wish that I could express myself like you do. You light up my day with your words. I am still waiting for your 1st book. you are a natural.

  4. jhaworthoy

    And after reading your blog…I have learned a lot…and hope to continue to read it. Your last line about your life will be different because of this experience. I envy that you were brave enough to live someplace…with so many people…with a different culture…and how it has expanded your life. Jackie http://familytrove.blogspot.com/

  5. Tara Smith

    I’ve learned there is more than one right way to do things. I’ve learned that the struggle, even when it seems so impossibly difficult that you want to give up, is worth it

    You learned this in such a short span of time…and yet it will see you through so much of life. What an experience it must be…and how brave of you to try it!

  6. Jaana

    Your phrase about the “stinky tofu” brings memories. have you smelled the fruit durian yet? Or even better, tasted one?

  7. jaclynfre

    Your list was fun to read as I am in the first year of international teaching in Indonesia. We have many teachers from Beijing at our school and they love to share about their ayi (our pembantus) that they left behind as well as the taxis (crazier than Indo, apparently) and the amazing city life–we’re in a suburb of Jakarta where malls are the the places to be (like in the 80s in the US). Looking forward to reading more of your posts.


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