Expats feel nostalgia for China when they return home for a visit

Expats feel nostalgia for China when they return home for a visit

Expats feel nostalgia for China when they return home for a visit

Expats living and working in China are getting ‘missing China syndrome’ when they take time off to visit their home countries.

The enigmatic land of China has been a focus for Western fascination for literally hundreds of years and is still casting its unique spell over this century’s expat workers. Assimilating into Chinese society may seem like an impossible task, but the country itself and its amazing heritage and history grabs hold of foreigners and often won’t let go. In addition, there’s a feeling amongst expatriates who’ve committed themselves to staying on that they’re somehow ‘unique’ within Chinese society as much as Chinese emigrants are unique in the Western world.

China’s rapid economic growth and its willingness to welcome Westerners into its complicated culture is attracting an increasing number of would-be expats, especially in the tech sector and in jobs teaching English to both children and adults. Always willing to latch on to the latest developments, Chinese workers and students are eager to get to grips with the world’s international language as a tool for advancement in their studies and careers. At the same time, expats begin to appreciate the traditional values attached to the Chinese family structure as well as getting the chance to practice their Mandarin.

Even so, many expats feel they’re caught between the two cultures of Asia and the West, especially at work. For example, Chinese colleagues as well as external agencies won’t reply to email unless they can give a positive answer, thus allowing expats to believe they’re being ignored when their Chinese colleagues are simply trying to avoid a confrontation. In addition, many new arrivals get the impression the Chinese don’t have a sense of humour as they rarely laugh out loud.

All this and other similar reasons lead most expats to feel they’re now in two halves psychologically, with the Chinese culture side often winning over its Western equivalent due to its complexity and subtlety. As a result, when expats take time out and return home for a visit, they find they’re missing out on the Chinese cultural values which permeate every aspect of life in the ancient land. The Western culture in which they grew up begins to feel shallow and somehow unsatisfactory, and nostalgia for the West fades over time. At this point, expats either give up and go home, or stay in China for the remainder of their lives.

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