It was with great sadness and great expectations that we left China to go back to our home in Arizona. We will sorely miss the wonderful people we met during our year there - the good friends we made, the hardworking students we taught, and all of the people that helped us and looked after us so well!
Flying over Prescott, and later, driving around and doing some shopping, the first thing I noticed was the complete lack of PEOPLE! True, it was a Sunday night, but I drove to the grocery store on nearly deserted roads, and saw perhaps 20 other people shopping in the local Fry's store - so BIG and CLEAN!
What a pleasure it was to get into my sparkling car and drive around listening to a radio station playing a song whose words I knew! The few cars I did see obeyed the traffic laws and of course no one honked! I bought a few supplies, and although being able to read the labels was SO CONVENIENT, I found I also missed the challenge of searching for what I wanted. I felt completely anonymous as I relished using the automatic checkout kiosk, paying with my debit card instead of wads of cash. Not a single person stared at me.
When we walked into our house, the first thing that struck us was that it was SO BIG! For a year, the 5 of us lived in a space that is about the size of our master bedroom and bathroom, and by the end of the year, it seemed completely normal! We laid on our BIG COUCH - one that can easily hold 5 people and laughed about the tiny sofa in our Chinese apartment that we had always sat on "cheek-to-cheek".
We stayed up until our normal bed-time in Prescott to catch up to our new time zone - finally going to bed after getting up 31 hours earlier in Hangzhou. I opened the window, turned out the lights and climbed into my soft bed, listening to a few crickets chirp outside - what a delight! We heard no honking, unmuffled engines, shouting in the street, building construction, or distant celebratory fireworks - just quiet! Though we will miss the frenetic pace of China, the peace and blue skies of Prescott are a wonderful welcome home.