Ready to Re-enter China

My wife and I fly back to Qingdao early this Friday morning and will arrive Saturday evening (Beijing time). We’ve been in America the past two months, and it’s time to go! If we had more things to do or people to see, it might be a different picture. Let’s just say we’ve had some time on our hands. And since doing the Culture Shocks in China Series earlier this summer, I read a little more up on it. To my eyes came this heart-twisting quote.

Let’s not make an overly big thing of culture shock. Yes, it’s real, and for some it causes real problems. But for the great majority of missionaries it is but a temporary phenomenon. We said earlier that culture shock was basically disorientation. The solution to it, then, is to get oriented.
-Thomas Hale, On Being A Missionary

an insightful documentary
an insightful documentary

One way I’ve started recently getting more acquainted with the Chinese before re-entry is to know better their history. I decided to focus on the last century since their history spans for thousands of years, but I’m not too enthusiastic when it comes to this subject because it’s been hard for me to wrap my head around the whys of events. Nevertheless, this week has been groundbreaking. I completed a book last night called The People’s Republic of Amnesia by Louisa Lim. (Here is my review of it) Then, this afternoon we watched the first two hours of the China in Revolution documentary series. I won’t ever completely understand Chinese people because of obviously being quite opposite, American, but I started to grasp the reasoning why a few nationals think or feel the way they do. I intend to learn more about this in the future, but with a baby coming the end of September it might happen in a slightly slower fashion. Especially since I told my wife that I’d start reading a couple baby books upon our return this weekend.

That said, I feel like this summer has been quite personal. I’ve become more conscious of new ways that I can relate to Chinese as well as conversations that could turn out strange and/or extraordinary. Either way, I can do this, and it feels good to be where I am in relation to a group of people thankfully less foreign to me.

Now, being an English teacher and a fan of puns I recall a couple articles with lines that I put together in a couple ways using differing punctuation. Let them sink in.

I can get oriented.

I can. Get oriented.


4 thoughts on “Ready to Re-enter China

  1. I’m a little confused by one of your sentences because I’m not sure what some of the words refer to. Maybe you are referring to the movie?
    “I won’t ever completely understand Chinese people because of obviously being quite opposite, American, but I started to grasp the reasoning why a few nationals think or feel the way they do.”

    Which nationals are you talking about and what do they think or feel? Are you referring to Americans, or Chinese?

    To me, culture shock comes on in different ways. Being in an office where there is a high-turnover rate, I’ve worked with about 20 different people who have arrived and left Shanghai. It’s interesting. I think for most of my colleagues it was a challenge to acclimate in the first couple of months (I started to really struggle after a year). They would come into the office complaining about one thing or another and most of the veterans would laugh because we had heard it many times before or experienced it for ourselves and have learned to accept or adapt. For me, the culture shock didn’t come on quickly, but it built up over time and I didn’t understand what was happening until I realized I was making a lot of pre-judgements about how I perceived the world should function. I would find myself often saying: “That isn’t safe.” “That isn’t efficient.” “That isn’t effective.” It really opened my eyes and I’m glad I realized what I was doing because it has helped me to understand how culture is much deeper than what I had fathomed it could be.


  2. Sorry about the confusion. I was referring to how opposite I as an American am from the Chinese (or “nationals” as we sometimes refer to them here in China).

    The prime example of a thought or feeling that comes to mind almost every time is what some Chinese we know have expressed about the events at Nanjing. I picked this and a few others things up possibly related to deeper issues from the documentary.

    I can totally empathize with you on the work environment. It started hitting me in the face during this last/third year. I’m glad we’ve both come to more of an understanding of the culture through the opening of the eyes and heart. Pride indeed comes before the fall, ha.

    Thanks for the question and comment!

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