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Reverse Culture Shock

Leaving China? Here are a few things you just might miss.


So your time in China is up and you have packed your bags and left. Sure, the first day back you will, no doubt, be catching up with your family members or perhaps just playing with your dog, but soon, as days go by, you will find yourself missing a few things from China. But just what are the things expats miss most about China? Check out our list below. Some of the things may surprise you!

It’s cheap: 


No need to break the piggy bank! Some things in China are relatively cheaper than in the West.

Perhaps, the number one thing to be missed is the cost of living in China. Although some things remain expensive, there are a few other things that are absolutely dirt cheap. Where else can you take public buses for as little as 40 jiao, or buy a bag full of oranges for 10 RMB ($1)? Katie Burkhardt, in her blog, lists the cost of living as number six among the ten things expats will miss after leaving China.

The language:

For those who have struggled, fought and finally learned the language, it’s a shame to go back home and find that there’s no use for your newly acquired Chinese skills. Perhaps you may find yourself talking in Mandarin to your pet or even to yourself to keep the language alive. However, not knowing the language has its ups too.

As Sally from unbrave girl writes in her blog, she misses not understanding conversations, especially on those  public transport journeys where people feel the need to disclose issues about their love lives or bodily functions. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

The food:


Street food may not always be 100 percent sanitary ,but it is oh-so-delicious!

Most expats worry about the type of food they will be eating when moving to another country, especially China, so it’s pretty surprising that most of us end up missing the food.

Lynn Galston, who has been living and working in Beijing for a number of years, has recently returned back to the United States and she says she mostly misses the food:

“I miss the food, especially in Beijing where you can literally get any kind of food you want and here most food is some combo of meat, bread and cheese,”

While food China is not always the most sanitary, many of us will have to admit to missing jianbing when they are no longer available.

The crowds:


Overwhelming at first but you really do miss the pushing and shoving

Ah yes, the crowds. Surprisingly, some even miss being squashed to within an inch of our lives on the subway or bus. Surprised? Canadian student Angela offers an explanation:

“At first I was really overwhelmed but then when I got used to it I found that it’s quite a stress reliever! You’ll be surprised at just how calm you feel when you exit the subway after pushing your way through the crowds!” 

It is accomplishment in itself to master the art of maneuvering your way through the busy crowds of Beijing (or anywhere else in China for that matter) and when you’re back home you might find yourself feeling the emptiness, quite literally.

The abundance of choice: 


Take your pick! There’s no shortage of flavours on this shelf

As crazy as some of the things out there are, some of us will miss seeing Pepsi and chicken flavoured Lay’s chips in our local super market. It’s things like these which make shopping trips just that extra bit special and hilarious, and we have to admit, only in China could you find such weird and wonderful things. There’s never a dull moment in a Chinese supermarket.

Jon, an English teacher who spent a couple of years in Beijing before returning to the UK says:

“Let me tell you my instagram has seen better days! It seems that every time I went shopping in Beijing, I would find an item so hilarious or strange that I simply had to put it up on my instagram to show friends and family back home!”

China is a constant source of confusion and exciting for most of us, so whether you’re going away for the holidays or going back for good, there’s no doubt that you will have a story or two to take home with you. For those who have spent part of their lives in China, well, you are bound to look back on a few of the things you have experienced that might be missed but certainly not forgotten.


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