I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks due to cramming for the HSK level 4, but now that’s over with and celebratory hotpot has been consumed I now have a free Saturday afternoon for catching up with my favourite blogs, eating 桔子 juzi and drinking tea.
I’ve recently read some fantastic blog posts about why going abroad is a great idea (particularly when you’re young) including a vlog by Texan in Tokyo and one by Gina Bear in Japan (I was sure there was another but it escapes me now). I’m very much a self-confessed home girl, that is I love being in the home surrounded by home comforts. I get horribly homesick when I’m away from home for more than about a month. Yet here I am, living in China, having sold or given to charity everything I wasn’t bringing (bar two boxes in my mum’s loft).
As Texan in Tokyo says in her vlog, you should get out of your comfort zone and you just might become a better person for it. Having recently read ‘How does one dress to buy dragonfruit’ anthology, featuring our favourite Jocelyn Eikenburg and Ember Swift, amongst many others, I am really inspired by women who have also pushed themselves to experience life abroad, even through challenges and struggles, and through their writing you can feel they’ve grown because of it. Some still remain in Asia and some now live in the West.
I think that’s what has done it for me. Whilst in my heart I just want to settle down and a build a steady life around me, in my head I always strive for adventure and constant growth. Since having scraped an average mark in my degree and not being able to enter the profession I had planned, I have become determined to do something interesting. The last 7 months have been hard and homesickness has been overwhelming at times (I try not to write about that), but I know that this will all be worth it. I am learning a new language, I am discovering a new culture and I have no idea where this experience will take me. Every time I move I build a new home where I can feel comfortable, identify the things I need to around me to feel sane whilst accepting a new place/culture.
I think this links with the reason why since living in abroad for the first time in 2008, I haven’t dated anyone from home, and what lead me to marry my Chinese husband: intercultural relationships are more fun! They demand a little more from you whilst delivering a little more in return. Whilst being married is an adventure for everyone, I am so lucky that my husband can take me on amazing and horrifying and death-defying multi-cultural adventures. I get to dig a deeper into this culture I’m currently living in, which may give me more insight into myself and my own culture.
One of the reasons Gina mentions is that it makes you appreciate and evaluate your own country, in a way which people who only travel for holidays cannot. I think to be able to see where your own country might be going wrong is really valuable, it gives you a whole new perspective. And when returning back home, you can appreciate the things you missed even more, and cherish them! Since going abroad for the first time I have acquired this habit where I sit in a square or walk down a street and pick out the wonderful things around me and what I am currently lucky for. I first started doing this during my year in Berlin. I struggled to make friends but tried to never forget how lucky I was to experience this unique city and to enjoy the crisp clear days.
Whilst not every day is fun living in another country, it is so worthwhile (and I’m going to read back to this when the next homesickness slump comes!)