When I first arrived back in the states, everyone kept asking how it felt. I didn’t really have to think about this answer, as it came in one word: EASY. I could walk outside without a dictionary. I was surrounded by food I love. I didn’t have to convert prices in my head or wonder about what all the signs say. I didn’t have to prep myself for any future dialogues. I knew the roads and the best places in town, so I could actually complete a few errands a day! And, admittedly, I had the freedom of driving a car.

I also greatly noticed the slower pace and friendliness of others. Its funny to think that DC is a really laid back city, but in comparison to Beijing, it’s quite slow! A few additional things I immediately appreciated were the abundance of good, healthy food (that I didn’t have to make from scratch), running stores, and of course the support of family and friends. I also freshly appreciated the diversity of the DC-area. While shopping at Tysons Corner, I heard at least three different languages being spoken in just one store. While enjoying the bliss of tangy yogurt on a bench in the mall I once again felt like a racial minority, but this time the majority wasn’t only Chinese and no one was taking photos, ha.

Fortunately I stayed home a week longer than David, and I got to see and buy all the things I could’ve hoped for. I may have mentioned one too many times that the number one thing I miss about America are the granola bars, because David and I received approximately 15 boxes for Christmas and I had to pay a little extra to bring my 61lb suitcase on the flight (and had to leave a few boxes behind as well.) I didn’t have to work too much while home, so I got to spend most of my time eating at all my favorite spots with friends and spending Groupons.

Other highlights included:
-Buying out Roadrunner Sports with Mom
-Avon Walk reunion at Founding Farmers (and subsequent free meal for reviewing some of the poor service on Open Table)
-Christine’s baby bump
-Meeting our most loyal blog followers, Janet and Bob Soong
-Giving out gifts from China
-Sitting 10-deep in a 6 person booth at P.F. Chang’s with the Henshaw fam.
-Matching pajamas for Christmas!
-Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Portrait Gallery (still running, check it out)
-American FOOD

Although I had some hesitation about this trip initially due to the $1200 plane ticket and the toll that jetlag would take, I am definitely glad I went! I actually stayed up for the first 24 hours of the trip, which made the time transition a little easier. Thanks SO much to everyone who has supported David and I in this journey, and we hope to fill 2011 with even more stories and experiences.

P.S. Remember back in October when I posted comments and photos about the moon cake lines at the mall? Well, look what some charitable little moon cakes accomplished: http://www.chinahospitalitynews.com/en/2011/01/04/18978-shangri-la-moon-cake-sales-aid-migrant-schools-in-beijing/

*Photos are uploaded online for our RSS feed subscribers, internet is crawling once again!

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