It's surprising how quickly the extraordinary becomes commonplace. When I first arrived in China, I walked around thinking in awe: "I'm in China! I'm actually living in China!" But before long the daily routine and challenges of my job drove that thought out of my mind, and when I did think "I'm living in China!" it was with surprise that I'd actually forgotten. As the novelty wore off, the petty annoyances of living in a foreign culture where I was constantly the centre of attention, where I couldn't get my favourite foods, and I couldn't communicate, made me almost wish I hadn't come.
But then, walking out of a school building where I'd been talking to students, one cold winter night, I suddenly looked up and saw big wet snowflakes drifting down. The snow frosted the trees, the ground, and the bridge across the frozen river. Grey old Taiyuan was- if only briefly- beautiful! As the snowflakes melted on my cheeks and hands, I thought "Snow in China!" And all the wonder of my first day there returned.