Once the bane of my existence, crowded buses have ceased to bother me. No more sweating because I’m jammed so close to other people. No more nausea if I happen to be in a position where I can’t face forward. No more shoulder pain when all the low-swinging handles are taken and I have to stretch a little bit to grasp the yellow bar above my head to hold myself steady as the bus screeches and halts along its path.
Even boarding a crowded bus would be daunting to a foreigner—sometimes you can’t even squeeze in the door. But I don’t count myself a foreigner any longer. There’s nothing better than the satisfied feeling of truly belonging to this country that I get when I cram myself onto a bus as it pulls away from the curb, clinging to the still-open bus door and shoving my bus fare into the collection box. That’s right, China: I can push and shove my way on to public transportation with the best of them.