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Going "home" for the first time in 4 years

Popularity 9Viewed 6823 times 2016-7-22 23:53 |System category:Life| another, country, stretch, without, living

Hello Dear Readers,

It has been a while since I've contributed to this Forum and figured now that I am officially on summer holiday and another school year is behind me I would share a post with you.

More specifically, I would like to write about my feelings about going back to my home country and hometown (London, Ontario, Canada) after four years of living in China. Now, I have lived in China primarily since 2002, but this is the first time I have gone so long a stretch without returning to Canada. The last time I was back in my hometown was the summer of 2012 just after the birth of our first child.

Since then, my family has visited my parents in their winter home of Tampa, Florida and my mother and sister visited my now family of four (my wife, our two boys and myself) in Beijing last year. So, it's not entirely like I have not seen my family in four years. With that said, I have been out of my home country of Canada and away from my friends back home, and away from the culture. During my time away my wife and I had our second child born last August, and I have traveled to Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu & Yunnan, as well as trips abroad to Vietnam, Australia & Japan.

So, how does it feel to be out of your home country for such an extended period of time? Well, I guess my main purpose was to become more global in my thinking and not so Amerocentric. I wanted to test myself mentally and emotionally, get lost in the world a bit and learn my own boundaries. I also wanted to travel other countries as much as possible and put my efforts into being a father of two beautiful boys. 

People might ask me, so what's wrong with Canada? Lol. The answer is nothing is wrong with Canada. It's just up to the person, I guess. Most Chinese would say that Canada is a beautiful, safe country with clean air, a good environment and highly developed society with good healthcare and education. And it is, to an extent. I also think though that Canada is given this impeccable image of all sunshine and rainbows by its immigration industry that depends every year on convincing people to immigrate to Canada (and bring their money). It is a big part of our economy.

The truth is, the last time I lived in Canada from 2008-11, I could hardly find a job teaching because of a lack of jobs, and was working in a factory for minimum wage while completing a Masters degree. By the time I had finished my degree, I still could not find full-time employment, and my wife had become pregnant with our first son. Frustrated at a lack of job prospects and the fact that my family doctor would not see my pregnant wife (only walk-in clinics), I started looking for a job back in China, where we were happiest. I was completely frustrated and exasperated with Canada at the time.

Not to make this post all about my brief life in Canada during those years and our unhappiness at our quality of life there. We soon thereafter moved back to Beijing where we currently reside and made the right choice in hindsight.  After four years, some of those bad memories during those three years have subsided and I really am excited to go back to the country of my birth and upbringing.

I want to take my family to the many great parks my hometown has to offer, have them swim in backyard pools, play golf, go fishing, camping, watch a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game, see family and friendly faces, and have my mom cook a homemade dinner for us. Canada has many great things to offer, and my love of China aside, if I were to make as much money and have a similar job there as I do in Beijing, we would probably consider moving back.

But for now, my family is ready to depart in three days back to the Great White North. To a land full of beavers and mountains,  poutine and bags of milk, hockey, clean streets, a good-looking Prime Minister and people who say "sorry" probably a bit too often. I am expecting some reverse culture shock, but not as much per say as when I first started living abroad in my early 20s. I like to think of myself as a seasoned global citizen now that I am a well-traveled father in his mid-30s. I wonder what friends I will see, and what we can possibly talk about. I have fallen out of touch with some and I feel like I've changed a lot since I last lived in Canada. Will we have anything in common aside from our childhood? Questions, questions...

It's funny, at my school some other foreign teachers are counting down the days until they go back home for their summer holiday.  Most of them return every summer or even after each semester.  One teacher asked me what I was doing and I told her, "I'm going back to Canada with my family. It's been 4 years..." Her eyes widened, "4 years! Seriously!?"  "Seriously. 4 years....that's about 1600 days I reckon." This teacher, just finishing her first year in China, stood there as if she had seen a ghost.

In hindsight, I won't stay out of my home country for this long again, especially since I have kids now and I want them to be familiar with Canada. But it does just go to show that it shouldn't be the days we count, it's the memories that matter.

So, yeah...lots of feelings and a bit of nerves dear readers, but this seasoned Beijinger is happy to go 'home' to Canada for his summer holiday! With that said, enjoy your summer, try and beat the heat (pray for no rain), and make the most of the good times!


(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (10 comments)

Reply Report SEARU 2016-7-23 21:48
好儿男志在四方!
Being a great man, Tom ALWAYS tries to achieve a lot no matter where he is!
Reply Report Jarek 2016-7-23 23:59
Have a safe trip.
Reply Report Chengking 2016-7-24 08:31
Enjoy your well earned summer vacation with the whole family.
Reply Report seneca 2016-7-24 09:15
It is only N Americans who makie a big deal out of their home visits from abroad where they have been lucky in finding durable employment. Remember, you are an English teacher and thus in demand in countries where English is a foreign tongue; that you cannot so easily find a teaching position back home goes without special emphasis.

That said, it is refreshing to read your blog that did not try to hype up one country as better than the other. A country is nothing but a space that gives you certain opportunbities to earn a living.

What you experienced during your 3-year stint back in Canada is increasingly getting common: stable jobs were a good thing of the past. More and more young people have to think how they can take care of their own needs in a permanent way. Even in China the work weeks are tending to get shorter - remember the introduction of two-day weekends. In the long run fewer employment opportunities will exist while more job seekers will compete. Robots are making humans redundant. The future lies in self employment. Politically, a new society needs to be designed - one in which the state no longer is supported by its people but on the contrary, supports its surviving citizens. .
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-7-26 21:43
Home: a great place to visit, but hard to live in. Wish you and yours a great trip, my friend!
Reply Report voice_cd 2016-7-27 17:48
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted it.
Reply Report SEARU 2016-7-28 11:23
teamkrejados: Home: a great place to visit, but hard to live in. Wish you and yours a great trip, my friend!
Hard to live in???

I always felt great relaxed when I slept in the old house in home-village although it was shabby compared with neighbors'!  -------That atmosphere could remind me as if I were still a boy who had no worry about food and clothing!

Of course now I feel more comfortable when I see the new house built by my own hand for mother!
Reply Report chinalionfish 2016-7-28 13:46
I can get your feeling...Stepping abroad with wife pregnant is really a challenge. It was tough in the past and some momeries exist forever. But you tried to change and succeed as proved. I like the sentence 'get lost in the world a bit and learn my own boundaries.'. Enjoy your holiday with family.且行且珍惜!
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-7-28 16:07
SEARU: Hard to live in???

I always felt great relaxed when I slept in the old house in home-village although it was shabby compared with neighbors'!  ------ ...
You built your mom a house? What a great son you are!
Reply Report SEARU 2016-7-28 18:44
teamkrejados: You built your mom a house? What a great son you are!
That is my duty to serve the person who gave birth to me!  
My mother is really proud of the new house where she has lived for five years!

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