n the time I have lived in China, nearly 2 months now, I have not yet felt homesick or culture shock. Perhaps it is yet to come. Perhaps I won't have much of either by setting out with the expectation of making this my new home. I think one of the largest reasons though, is the new friends I have made here.
My colleagues are other expats who have come from Australia, the U.K. and Uzbekistan. Other expats I've met are from even more countries. Obviously they all speak English, being teachers. This has really helped with my assimilation. Whether it's in between classes, or at a pub night, having someone who can speak English and share similar stories (having come from the West) is nice.
To my surprise, WeChat has played a large role in mitigating culture shock and any feelings of loneliness one might feel when abroad (which I personally haven't had). I communicate regularly with a surprisingly large number of people on WeChat. From new contacts, to work colleagues to group chats for bars, yoga, and group activities. Several of these groups have over 100 members, with one yoga group having nearly 300 people across Asia. WeChat has played a role in introducing me to new people, getting helpful advice, accessing resources and communicating with my closest friends back home.
When listening to The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin, he discussed how often times in chess championships, players would focus on a strategy then get hung up on it once the board changed and it would no longer work. I feel people are often like this. They formulate a plan, and some variable changes the dynamics of it all, and we get stuck saying to ourselves "if only _______ then I could do ____" or something along this line. Josh talks about how dangerous this mentality can be, and the importance of observing when the situation has changed and being ok with the change, adopting it, and developing a new plan. This is exactly how life is.
I dont think I'll go through much culture shock because it seems there isn't much I hold on to about being back in Canada. I think culture shock is simply an individual's inability to adapt to their new environment, and the more capable you are of doing so, the less shock there will be. My circumstance may be different, I don't plan on returning and when heading into this adventure I had a slightly different mindset than someone who was told they will only be staying abroad for a year or two.
These people grasp on to all they can, before moving abroad. Upon arrival they're awaiting their return and constantly measuring everything to their old standard back home instead of adjusting to the new dynamics of their chess board.
In my preparation for moving, I site planning not to return as one of my smartest moves both from a personal management perspective (such as closing accounts with companies, managing expectations with friends and family etc.) and from a psychological perspective.
For someone who expects to return to their country within a set amount of time, they mentally cling to their homeland and as such are blinded to the wonders around them due to their anticipation of going back to their old ways.
Forward motion cannot be made with an anchor to your past from a progress standpoint. There is a difference between jogging and jogging on the spot. Maintaining such an anchor, is jogging on the spot.
Perhaps I will become homesick, experience culture shock, and become overwhelmed. I doubt it, and don't think of it often. Some say there is a cycle whereby the first several months are full of excitement and fun while culture shock happens several months after settling in. To those people I would share the quote on my website homepage: To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson