I’ve tried to put all of my experiences into several groups based upon the timeframe – I’m currently in the 4th stage.
1st stage: Just off the boat. Wide eyes. In shock. Everything is different. Absorbing everything. Notice things like spitting and the squat toilets. Still have those idealistic ideas about China.
2nd Stage: Honeymoon period. Realise purchasing power. Able to do things unlike back home. Have fun learning to communicate. Most foreigners don’t get beyond this as they don’t stay long enough. This lasted a year for me, looking back incredibly fun time.
3rd Stage: Cynical stage. Happened to me after 18 months in China. You’re starting to see how unfair and messed up China really is. Start to understand enough of the language and culture to be able to discern what is really happening. Become disinfranchised with most things chinese.
4th Stage: Pragmatic stage ‘ well that’s just the way it is…’ Learn to adapt and avoid bad situations. Gut instincts become very useful. Start to develop ‘chinese’ habits. Learn to live with certain things, life becomes less challenging and more rewarding.
Strangely living in a foreign land has actually made me less open minded and more judgemental of many things. It’s the reverse of what one would think would happen but I believe this is an indication of the surroundings in which I live – I have simply adapted to the way things are, whether that is good or bad.
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