On the other side

So life as I have known it since around 2005 has been switched around. My husband and I have gone through the immigration process and are now living in America. Reverse culture shock is more challenging than I imagined, and now my husband is dealing with being foreign. It is wonderful showing and sharing my country and culture with my Chinese husband, but there are challenges too. My husband has to learn English and deal with culture shock in a country where foreigners are common and don’t stand out. Our roles have changed in our relationship as well.

With the immigration process, job hunt, identity crisis, and overall adjustment, life has been a bit busy.


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15 responses to “On the other side

  1. Welcome to the other side of the pond! The transition period after immigration is always the toughest, so I can totally understand the lack of communication for several months.

    My husband and I swapped roles for a very long time after we moved over here, since I was the one earning money and it seemed nobody wanted to hire him for a long time. I even taught him how to drive — will never forget watching him weave in and out of the lanes, telling me he “didn’t have sense yet” for driving (while I was losing my senses!).

    I don’t know how tough it is for you, but it does get better. Good luck!

    • Oh the driving… he actually had a drivers license in China so I can’t figure out why my husband doesn’t “have a sense” for driving either, but it’s so scary!

      Thank you for the encouragement.

      • Chris

        If you want to get anywhere in China faster than a bicycle, you must honk and weave in and out of lanes.

        See your husband’s behaviour is perfectly normal. He is dodging all those cars that don’t exist 😦

  2. What a surprise! I also welcome to the other side. I imagine how hard and busy it is. It gets better, it does…

    Sometimes, I have to admit, I find that returning to my country has been harder for me than it has been for my husband to adapt. Sometimes I long for my life as an expat, for the daily challenges, for living in another culture and in another language again. Sometimes I felt more at home abroad than where I come from. But I guess that’s something every expatriate who returns experiences once in a while.

    To you and your husband, GOOD LUCK! I guess you had really good reasons to take that step. All the best!

  3. Shandongxifu,
    hang in there! It will get a lot better sooner than you think. It does feel strange to be back home, when it doesn’t feel like home much anymore. Your man will adapt also.
    Here we’re going through the same thing, for my hubby. Back in China after 10 years abroad, ouch!!! For me, it’s cool to be able to communicate with people after a Korean stopover that was frustrating linguistically. For him, it’s home-doesn’t-feel-like-home-yet…

    Best of luck, E 🙂

    • Good luck in China! I’m sure that has to be quite an adjustment too!

      • Yep, it’s quite an adjustment, and so is being a new mom!!! We’re going to survive!!! And one day, we’re also going to make the move back to my home, so we’ll also go through reverse culture shock and all the funsies… Ah life!!! Happy new year by the way!

  4. Chris

    This is my Checklist upon entry to China (I am Chinese-Canadian):

    1. I am Chinese. I am NOT Canadian. (people get offended if a chinese person says they’re not chinese!)
    2. When people ask me what my name is, it is NOT Chris. Chris doesnt exist.
    If in west Shandong, I must speak the 鲁西话(LuXi). If I am in Qingdao, I must speaking “青岛话” (Or people will ask where I am from, and I must not be Canadian, rule 1)
    3. DON’T wait for receipts when you buy something.
    4. DON’T hold doors open for girls, no matter how pretty. They will either ignore you or think you’re stupid. 😦
    5. BE SKINNY AND SHOVE people aside if trying to get on crowded bus. Convince bus driver that bus is able to hold you. Otherwise you might not catch a bus at all 😦 Same goes for public restrooms
    6. BE INTROVERTED and UNASSUMING. “Hey, what’s up” in Chinese is NOT “Ni hao! Zen me yang?” but an unassuming “en” with a nod will do.
    REJECT gifts and goodwill offers given by other people passionately. If not done, people will think you are too soft. Either ways they’ll end up forcing it into your hands anyways.
    7. THINK THRICE BEFORE SAYING ONCE. Always consider and re-consider what other person will think and feel if you say something. Because that’s what Chinese people like to do 🙂
    8. but RARELY SAY THANK YOU. Do so if someone saves your life. Appreciate what others do for you by DOING things to help them.
    9. DODGE TRAFFIC. Like a dog! If you wanna get anywhere fast.

    Upon return to Canada:
    1. I am proudly Canadian! I am now a man of democracy and freedom, fond of the outdoors, the snow, the trees. If winter, must do 4 hour hike/mountain climb to readapt to Canadian winter.
    2. I am Chris again 🙂 People will call me Chris and I WILL respond.
    3. Wait for that reciept!
    4. HOLD DOORS OPEN for girls. Always!
    5. TAKE UP SPACE because I can. Let others first
    6. BE EXTROVERTED! Yeah! Talk about stuff! 😀
    7. Say what you mean and mean exactly what you say.
    8. Say “Please”, “Thank you”, and “You’re welcome”
    9. Follow the rules of the road always! Or racial comments about Chinese drivers will happen.

    Somehow, I am never able to completely follow these checklists in my first week of re-adjustment..

  5. Eddie


  6. Cvaguy

    Your husband would understand how much you have gone through living in foreign country. Hope he will call it his own soon.

    My first year in school was hard. Between maintaining straight A for all five courses and making ends meet, there was unbearable stress of living on my own without knowing a soul and being fluent in english. The pressure of surviving motivated me to deal with anything without fear, but with a plan.
    Learning to drive is the same of learning to swim, I told myself. The key is figure out a progression plan. It took my a week to get my driver license, but it took my months to observe and think about

    how to drive purposely and how to parallel park.

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