Hardest part of leaving China and returning home?
A teacher I know is going back home after a two year teaching stint in China… What should he expect to make a soft landing in the US?
Off the top of my head, I think he’ll most certainly enjoy the newfound simple conveniences like banking, apartment rental, shopping and generally getting things done without the hassle, but he’ll probably miss the chaos in China…
China is a new day every day. The surprises you’ll experience there.. so many interesting thing happening in your neighbourhood… or at your school…
I guess some expats prefer chaos over stability and that’s why they’re still in China. Nothing wrong with that.
But China can be hard…There are scams and if you make it through a couple of years here without a hitch, you’re lucky!
On the contrary back in the US it can be a “boring heaven”.. But, boredom won’t hurt you like stress and pollution can… Never heard of someone dying of boredom.
There are so many more outdoor things to do in the US too. Camping, is one I’ve missed If you’re in a big city like Beijing or China, you’re pretty much stuck there most of the time. It’s hard to escape the urban jungle on the weekends and tougher during holidays (because everyone has the same travel plans).
And what about the Internet? I doubt he’ll miss having to log in through a VPN or suffer slow/unstable internet connections or not being able to view certain websites.
I’d say this is what he can expect in the US: Greenery, fewer people, cleaner air, being able to strike up a conversation with anyone (almost) and of course restaurants that are inspected regularly by health officials so you don’t get food poisoning!
And how about smiles, good mornings, polite gestures and such a variety of fresh, cheap organic food at your local grocery store or Costco!
And what about mom’s home cooking?
I’m sure he’ll have to slow down a bit and pay closer attention to traffic rules, since they do enforce them in the US…. Jay walking isn’t the norm in the US. Neither is cutting in line. You could get yourself yelled at, ticketed or even assaulted.
Getting a job could be tough. At least one that’s enjoyable. Teaching in China can be a lot more fun than doing a desk job and punching a clock, reporting to a boss. And then there are all those student relationships…
Being respected by your students and often the centre of attention because you’re their teacher or just a foreigner who speaks English could be missed. He’ll just be like everyone else back in the US…
Hopefully, he’s prepared financially to support himself until he finds a good job and can adjust to the reverse culture shock… I haven’t asked him about his money situation yet. Don’t expect he’ll be able to save as much in the US as he did in China…
I’m sure his social circle will change back home, he’ll probably be forced to buy a car, just to get around even if he doesn’t really care to.
Reconnecting with old friends will be great at first. So much to catch up on, but you’ll realize you just wont’ have the same core interests anymore…
Of course there’s things like sports and politics to talk about, but you’ll realize soon enough that you’re an expat, and you’re DIFFERENT.
Your old buddies, just haven’t had the same weird, mind blowing cultural or “real travel” experiences you you’ve had. They haven’t interacted with the people you have overseas either.
Most of us upon repatriating tend to seek out new friends who’ve had a similar experience. Even talking to immigrants in the US may be interesting, because we’ve sort of been temporary immigrants in China… (at least for a couple of years anyway).
And for teachers who can’t adapt to to the US lifestyle, they’ll probably be back to China sooner than they think. It can be a super tough adjustment coming home, I’m sure.
Because I’ve heard that reverse culture shock takes a lot longer to get over than culture shock.
What’s your experience?