After exactly two years of living in Beijing we traveled back to Holland to visit family and celebrate our daughter’s fifth birthday. Many expats travel back home regularly, but we stayed put for two years. In those two years in China, we went from the deepest lows (read about that here) to the highest highs.
I was glad we waited so long to go back, as we have established a home life here and were happy to return after three weeks in Holland. However I had not anticipated the reverse culture shock when I arrived back in Europe; here some examples to laugh about.
People adhere to the rules in The Netherlands, especially in traffic. We hired a car, and my husband had to brake in some instances because we would have done so in Beijing. But Dutch drivers do not act as drastically as the Beijing drivers, and frankly riding around is much safer.
I was sitting on the bus and it just seemed like somebody had died, it was so quiet. When you travel on public transport in Beijing it’s noisy. Actually it’s noisy when you go outside anywhere in Beijing, and I am very much used to it.
I am very fond of calling for the waiter in Beijing – “FUYANNNNNN” – no shame, I love it. In the Netherlands they frown upon shouting in restaurants.
I am sad to say I am very much used to the dirt in Beijing. I don’t really see it anymore. However when I went back to my birth country I realized how clean Holland is.
How I missed being picked up by drivers at any corner in the city! I was traveling by bus and train in Holland for around hundred times the price.
Dutch people cook, or might go out to eat on special occasions. I missed ordering food from the vast array of restaurants here. Just a click of the button, and cheap food is delivered to your doorstep in Beijing. Lucky and lazy we are here.
Regardless of having reverse culture shock I love grocery shopping, but after two years in Beijing I savored going to the grocery store in Holland where I could read packages and there is so much food to pick from. The abundance was immense, and especially for my diet restrictions. The options are endless, fresh and cheap, and the cheese is not rotten.
No, we don’t really pay by phone yet in Europe, and on many occasions I tried to scan the QR code that was not there. I could not stop raving about the endless options of WeChat to people in the Netherlands.
As we know, buying clothes in Beijing can be a challenge for expat bodies. But Europe caters to our big and tall bodies. Stocking up on clothes is a must, and I accepted the challenge with grace and euros.
Photos: Pauline van Hasselt