After Four and a Half Years, I’m Finally Traveling Back to the US

Over four and a half years. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve been back to the US.

As I prepare to return to the US for a short visit, the staggering amount of time that has separated us looms before me. 

I never thought I would be away for so long. Years ago in the US, I often heard stories from Chinese students, of how their visas — and the potential to be denied re-entry to the US during their studies — snuffed out any plans of heading back to China. I remember being shocked to hear that they hadn’t seen their family and friends back home in three or four years. 

One year of absence, give or take a few months, was about all I could bear when I first came to China. And once, while working in Shanghai, the one and a half years I ended up waiting to see my family already tested me, and left me aching within. 

But since then, life has schooled me in the many ways that the best laid plans — such as regular, yearly international travel to see family and friends back home — can be dashed. Maybe circumstances have rendered the price tag for an international flight far beyond your tight budget. Or a pandemic dashes any further hopes of flying back home. 

Being grounded for four and a half years reminded me that international travel is a privilege, not a right.

Now that I will travel home to the US very soon, it feels more like an imaginary story, rather than reality. How do you make up for all that lost time in just a short couple of weeks? What can you say to someone you haven’t seen face-to-face in over four years?

I guess I’m about to find out. 😉

10 Replies to “After Four and a Half Years, I’m Finally Traveling Back to the US”

  1. My husband went home to Shanghai for the first time since 2018 this summer to see his family. In 2019 he was helping me through cancer treatment and then 2020 happened.

    Unfortunately his father passed away in late December 2022 after the Covid restrictions were lifted, but he was able to spend all summer with his mother and two sisters.

  2. We had our first home leave after 3 1/2 years. Our youngest left the US when she was a month old, so everything and everyone was new to her. She had never worn long sleeves or long pants, and she had a hard time getting used to the feel of something on her arms and legs. The hardest thing about living abroad for so many years was that my parents didn’t have time with their grandkids and vice-versa.

    I hope you’ll have a wonderful trip. I know you’ll have lots to talk about.

  3. Returning to the US after such a prolonged absence must be an emotional rollercoaster. Reuniting with loved ones and making up for lost time can be a daunting task, but the experiences and memories you’ll forge during your brief visit will hold deep significance. Wishing you a wonderful time back home! 😊

    P.S.: I’m also on the verge of returning to my home country after a whopping 8 years (!), so I can completely empathize with your sentiments!

  4. I am so happy for your opportunity to see your family. Though I cannot personally relate, I’ve seen the pain on my husband’s face, the tears in his eyes since he’s been away from China for years now. We are desperately hoping to have a chance to go during Spring Festival. When the whole family will finally meet our 7 year-old daughter for the first time. Have fun and be safe in your travels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.