Culture Shock Episode Number 28

I’ve been quite down for the past week or so. Teaching is unenjoyable and learning Chinese seems like an insurmountable task. All the teachers have worked hard and are now stressed out. The situation is tense, so I’m glad that the spring term is ending today.

Inevitably, I blame being in China for my problems and the culture shock sets in again. I spend time on the Tianjin expatriates web site. So, I go to my usual hiding spot at Starbucks. I spot a foreigner there and I yearn to talk to them for just 10 minutes. So I prepare to put on my most British of British accents, but I realise that I look like every other Chinese person that wants to practice their English. So I stop myself. I end up dreaming of England’s green fields again.

Except that the Chinese culture is not to blame. There is an expectation that problems will go away when you are at home, that feeling is exacerbated when you are thousands of miles away. So, I try to put everything into perspective. I realise that England’s green fields are probably:

  1. occupied with protesters against the new runway, which has not even got planning permission yet
  2. flooded because of global warming
  3. swarming with Polish workers clearing up the mess for a reasonable wage
  4. falling in value because of the impending housing market crash
  5. experiencing cloud cover with some light drizzle but clearing up in the afternoon

Now, I don’t feel so bad and I remember what a famous Polish philosopher (my flat mate) once said: “Your problems follow you wherever you go.”

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