Guest Post: Things I've Learned After Moving From China to America with My Chinese Husband | Speaking of China

9 Responses

  1. Lena
    Lena August 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm | | Reply

    Hey hey,
    What a nice article. It seems like a bit of a struggle to settle back into old life with a foreign husband but you guys seem really positive about it.
    I wish you all well and good luck with practicing your Chinese!
    Cheers,

    Lena

  2. R Zhao
    R Zhao August 21, 2015 at 8:36 pm | | Reply

    Great advice!

    I’m about to move back to the US with my husband. . . for the second time. The first time, back in 2007, was a nightmare. I’m doing some things differently. I’m headed back first to find a place for us and our two kids. We WON’T be staying with my parents. It just wasn’t a good fit for us the first time around. My husband is doing a total career change, studying for his CDL (to become a semi-truck driver) and I think I may substitute teach while looking for other work.

    I know it’s going to be hard. I know I’m going to need a lot of patience. But I feel like I’m ready. Since my son was born last year, I have felt really out of place in China. It’s time for the next chapter.

    Good luck to you and your hubby, Marissa!

    1. Micah S
      Micah S August 22, 2015 at 3:02 am | | Reply

      > We WON’T be staying with my parents.

      This was one of the hardest things for us too. We moved back several months before the usual hiring season for my industry (education) for medical reasons, and stayed with my parents until I found a job which allowed us to move out. For cultural, personal and logistical reasons, there was a lot of friction between our family and my parents. The idea of making expectations clear in advance is good, but sometimes you just don’t know what’s going to cause conflict and have to deal with things as they come, which not everybody is good at.

      So if we moved back again, I would definitely try to live independently ASAP. That requires a lot of preparation in advance, like job-hunting and saving money, which not everybody is able to do, or has the foresight to anticipate.

  3. Nicki Chen
    Nicki Chen August 22, 2015 at 2:10 am | | Reply

    When you think about it, the situation for you and ZJ is unusual. You have the mixture of the usual problems an immigrant faces and the reverse culture shock of an expat returning home, and because you’re married, you both experience both challenges. We’re used to hearing about the “immigrant experience,” how the first generation immigrant suffers to prepare the way for a better life for his children. But you’re not an immigrant, so your expectations are different. It sounds like you’re doing a good job facing this double and somewhat confusing challenge. Keep up the good work.

    My Chinese husband, too, was an immigrant. But he had already been in the US for three or four years when we met, and he was already established in his career as an engineer. Looking back, I see that he did most of the adjusting to life in the US before I even met him.

  4. Mary
    Mary August 22, 2015 at 8:00 am | | Reply

    I really, really feel for you. Repatriating it SO HARD. I also moved back from China over a year ago, and time has not really healed me. I still think about my life in China everyday, and there are multiple times I wonder if I did the right thing moving back.

    I’m sure this is even more difficult when you have a spouse that is adjusting to culture shock as well.

    I think one of the most difficult aspects of coming back was the job hunt. I thought that my international experience would make me a great candidate for jobs, but instead I was turned down time and time again. The few times I was given a job offer, the salary was lower than what I received in China–often times with bad or no insurance and few benefits. It was a huge blow to my self esteem, not to mention my bank account.

    I thought that moving abroad was supposed to be hard and coming back was supposed to be easy, since I was back at ‘home’ and I was supposed to know how things worked. It turns out, however, making it in America is *extremely* difficult.

    Best of luck to you and your husband! You two are so brave!

  5. Autumn
    Autumn August 22, 2015 at 9:32 am | | Reply

    I know it shouldn’t surprise me that most Americans are unable to back down from their willfully ignorant and outdated assumptions about other countries. But it is so depressing.

    I mean, why wouldn’t they just ask and listen to a recently returned traveler?

    I’m just reading this and I want to bang my head on my desk. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be to have this conversation weekly, or even daily. You’re a trooper!

  6. R Zhao
    R Zhao August 22, 2015 at 11:24 am | | Reply

    After having come home (to the US) to visit so many times over the past ten years, I realized one thing very early on–most people don’t care or have little interest in what I’ve done abroad. If you asked my parents to name one country I’ve visited in all the years I’ve lived in China, they couldn’t tell you. They never asked where I’ve been and I just don’t talk about it. This is true with most of my family and some of my friends.

    I don’t fault them for it though. It’s something some people don’t understand. And there may be others that are a little envious. There are some that just don’t find it interesting. I think that’s okay. My parents, funnily enough, do like to “brag” to random people that I live in China and speak Chinese. Some people are polite (“Oh, really? Huh, that’s interesting….”) and others are absolutely fascinated and start asking a million questions. You just never know!

    And I agree with Mary that time spent abroad does not necessarily make finding a job any easier, nor does speaking a second (or third) language. There are so many factors at play–your field, your location, your level of fluency, experience, etc.

  7. Guest Posting | Marissa Kluger August 31, 2015 at 4:31 am |
  8. fred
    fred September 4, 2015 at 8:21 am | | Reply

    All the best to you both.

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