I’m genuinely getting excited about traveling home this summer. It was mostly unexpected for us to go back this year, and as I busily get all the loose ends tied up for the end of school, I’m anticipating a fun vacation.
However, I also realize that right now I’m looking at the coming weeks through rose colored glasses, and that I will likely be slapped with a small dose of reality somewhere along the way. Most of the time, it’s all good. But I also need to remember that the quote, “You can’t go home again,” rings true sometimes, and you just have to be prepared for it.
What not to do when going home for the summer: Don’t talk endlessly about experiences in China unless specifically asked about them – and even then, keep it brief. Don’t forget that you are temporarily living in someone else’s home (at least in my case) and that privacy is limited at best. Don’t assume that just because your extended family hasn’t seen you or your children in at least a year, they can’t offer expert opinions on everything from what what’s wrong with living in China to what’s wrong with your kids.
The thing is, living in China changes you. No matter how much you like or don’t like living here – even temporarily – it changes your perspective on so many aspects of life and humanity. Personally, I love it. Of course I miss many things from home, and I have my “bad China days” as we all do. But I like how it’s changed me. I like how I’ll be different when I go back home. I like how I have a new appreciation for all kinds of things I might not have ever been exposed to.
Unless you’ve had that experience, though, sometimes sharing some of your daily life comes across as arrogant or perhaps simply incomprehensible to others. I think people are genuinely fascinated and interested in our stories, but scratching the surface is generally enough for most people. Saying, “Well, in China…” gets boring.
I’ve learned to just be still. I answer when I’m asked, or interject when it’s appropriate, and then I let it go. Just because China has changed me doesn’t mean it has to change everyone. Sometimes people just can’t relate, nor do they want to.
I’m still excited about my upcoming trip – seeing family and friends, visiting familiar places and enjoying some comforts from home. I go back as a visitor, at least for now, but I wind up looking forward to both ends of the trip: going home, and then coming back home, to China.
Have a great summer, everyone!