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Back in China

Popularity 10Viewed 2999 times 2014-8-31 13:49 |System category:Life| China, job, studying overseas

Back in China

So far, I have been back in China for more than a month. What I have experienced during this period of time is the exactly opposite to what I had imagined.


While I was still in Australia, I had pictured the bright future ahead of me. At that time, I believed after I came back to China, I would land a decent job, earn good money and visit different places. Now when I recall it, I suppose I was just too naïve. Also, what I cannot deny is that I have become a bit unfamiliar with the Chinese society, the Chinese job market in particular after one and half years abroad. Of course, I failed to realize this before coming back. Therefore, no wonder I found life back in China very difficult during the first two weeks.


Honestly, the first days were almost like nightmares as I prepared myself for the promising future I had dreamed of while what awaited for me was only harsh reality. The stark differences between these two were almost like heaven and hell. To me, the most miserable thing was that no one seemed to know that I needed time to readapt to China’s society. So, I had to fight the battle on my own. Worse still was that people around me, especially my parents, kept judging me because of their not knowing of what I was going through. I was disappointed and depressed even more because that I found out that people, who know me, thought it natural for me to secure a well-paid job, which exerted tremendous pressure on me.


Being a person who is terrible at dealing with pressure, there were times I nearly broke down. The initial interviews I had were disasters. In fact, I had my first interview four or five days after I was back. It was the weirdest interview I have ever had in my life, partly because they wanted to reschedule the interview while I was only steps away from the location of the interview and partly because the interviewer showed absolutely no respect to me. So I wasn’t all that surprised when I found out I was declined. This didn’t really make me disappointed as I wasn’t prepared to work for a boss like that guy. The following interviews didn’t go well either. Most of the offers didn’t quite meet my expectations. Gradually, I felt like the stress was piling up in my mind and it started overwhelming me. This wasn’t the worst part as afterwards I had an interview which destroyed the last bit of confidence in me. It was a demonstration class I was required to do. Without giving it much thought, I did it like the lessons I had given in the language school in Australia. This apparently failed to meet the requirements set by that company. The woman who interviewed me criticized virtually everything involved in my teaching demonstration, ranging from my methodology to my speed of English to my professional training in Australia. She told me in a pretty straightforward manner that the teaching methodology I had learnt in Australia was never gonna be applicable in China due to the specialty of Chinese education system. Also she made it clear that I would let students down if I taught them in that way.


After that interview, I called my father who consoled and encouraged me. Next, before realizing it, tears had already swelled in my eyes. To be perfectly honest, at that very moment, I was perplexed about what I should do next. What made me feel really sad was that I had fought so hard to earn the precious opportunity of studying overseas and later found myself to be told that the whole experience of studying abroad was nearly worthless.


As harsh as the reality was, that depressing interview sounded a wake- up call to me. After that interview, I decided to lower my expectations on jobs and to start everything from scratch. So I spent a lot of time writing and rewriting lesson plans. As time went by, it dawned on me that what I had gained during my time in Australia was immeasurable and certainly shouldn’t be denied by someone who barely knew me. It also came to me that this invaluable experience has already enhanced my career prospects which definitely will show later in my life.


Now, things are getting a little bit better. And I believe that I have what it takes to make it. What I need now it an opportunity or a stage to show my abilities. So long as I had it, I would be leading the life I had imagined sooner or later. After all this time, I find that I should have been more patient. Also, I am glad that I encountered the obstacles while I am still young as I don’t have anything to lose now. What doesn’t kill me is only gonna make me stronger. And who knows, this may be a blessing in disguise.


I am not taking the skeleton out of my closet to invite your pity. I want to write this down because I hope the Chinese international students can realize that they will need time to readapt to Chinese society after finishing their study overseas. And hopefully, they can be prepared for this. Of course, not all the returnees will find it difficult to land a job or readapting. But, still, it’s better  to be prepared than to be caught off guard. Plus, I really hope we can show more understanding to that particular group of students. I know a lot of people believe that some Chinese students from loaded families choose to study abroad because they want to avoid the not-so-pleasant reality in China. By studying abroad, they could have a whole different identity and live a totally different life. This indeed exists. However, the majority of Chinese international students go to study on a foreign land just because they want to have a better future. They work extremely hard to pass the language test, to get an offer and to work all their way through tough foreign education system to graduate. Therefore, they deserve our respect.


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




Shake hands


Friends who just made a statement (3 Person)

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Comment Comment (17 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2014-9-1 11:16
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report Min1989 2014-9-1 11:21
Thanks a lot!
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-9-1 13:55
Use your overseas experience selectively - some folks will be jealous of it, others will feel you got out of touch.  You could explan to readers how the Australian teaching style is not suitable for Chinese students
Reply Report 丢人现眼 2014-9-1 15:33
There are two big issues here: 1) culture shock  2) employment. It's not easy moving back home. Usually takes me a month to work out all the problems and I always get in a huge fight with my parents. No guilt there. Were you gone the entire year and a half or did you have time to visit home while you were abroad? Sometimes it's hard to catch up with the ones you love, even when you've spent most of your life with them.

Employment is difficult. Personally, I would advise you to use those English skills to do something other than teaching--no offense to teachers out there. There's a lot of people with the same idea that will be competing with you to teach kids that--in all honesty--probably don't want to be at school. But if your heart is set on teaching, just be a TA for a bit and learn the ropes. I don't know how old you are, but most professional schools aren't going to hire teachers under 25. Training schools can be a different story, but training schools are also full of some of the most irresponsible people I've ever known.

Anyway good luck. I like your attitude.
Reply Report Min1989 2014-9-1 16:13
丢人现眼: There are two big issues here: 1) culture shock  2) employment. It's not easy moving back home. Usually takes me a month to work out all the problems  ...
Thank you so much for your comment. It makes me feel like I have finally found someone who know what I am going through, which is a blessing. Honestly, I had quite a few fights with my parents the first week after I was back. I was quite used to the pretty relaxing lifestyle in Australia. After I came back, I was supposed to abide by a lot of trivial rules in Chinese society. For example, I was expected to serve tea whenever there were guests coming to visit my parents. I couldn't care less about this kind of thing in Australia. Not being understand by anyone was the most difficult part as I literally felt like I was fighting a losing battle all alone.

I came back to China at the end of last year for Chinese Spring Festival. During that time, I wasn't faced with employment issues. Nor did I spend much time with my family. I was basically a free soul. So to me, the cultural shock wasn't that strong.

I love teaching and writing. But, like you said, there are  bunches of teachers in training schools who don't worth the salt. So I don't really like working in that kind of atmosphere. I also know that it's a no for me to teach in a university as I don't have a doctorate degree. Teaching in a college can be a choice, which is not on my list yet. You are true that professional schools value experience a lot, which is something I still need to accumulate. I am 25 this year. Before studying abroad, I worked as a part-time IELTS teacher for some ten months, which is apparently not enough.

Now, I want to scratch the past and start all over again. I always believe that as long as I work hard enough and have what it takes, I should be able to make it in the end. Of course, it will take time to achieve the goal. To me, it is a great opportunity for me to learn to be patient, which is something I have never been good at.

Actually, now, I am happy with what I have and what I may have in the future.

Thanks agin. It's so nice of you to write this comment.
Reply Report cody160 2014-9-1 21:09
You're only 25 years old, more challenging years may lie ahead of you. You've got your overseas learning experience, that may give you a big advantage. Three years ago, like many other fresh graduates, I came out of my school and stepped into an unknown world. That's way out of comfort zone, and for three months, I couldn't find a decent job. I didn't even have the money the rent a single room, so I took shelter in my friend's house, which was provided by his company. I lived there for a month, always in fear of some day, I might get caught by his company's logistic staff and be driven away, so that I might end up living on the street. Certainly, at that time, my pressure was greater than you. First, I never studied abroad. Second, I didn't come from a prominent university and was not an A student in my mediocre school. My interviewers told me they were looking for someone with several years of working experience. At that time, I felt very depressed, I never expected this kind of life out of school. The dilemma was: if I never get a chance to learn, how could I get those many years of working experience many companies expected?

I'm not complaining here--I just want to tell you that life for fresh graduates is tough than you could've ever expected in your school. Hope you can get a brave heart to tough it out, and a promising career is ahead of you.
Reply Report Min1989 2014-9-1 22:10
cody160: You're only 25 years old, more challenging years may lie ahead of you. You've got your overseas learning experience, that may give you a big advantage ...
Hey, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I cannot imagine how depressed you were during that time. And I really admire your courage. I was depressed not only because the tough job-hunting situation I was faced with but also because the unfamiliarity with Chinese society after a long time abroad. Plus, I have to admit I held my hope too high before I came back to China. So when the reality revealed itself in front of me, I wasn't able to handle it.

At the beginning, I didn't realize that I had to change to fit in Chinese society. No wonder I was declined several times. Admittedly, I had a wrong attitude towards jobs initially because I thought I had some one year experience of teaching and I should be able to find a job easily after the professional training abroad.

Anyway, now I know that I have to be patient as well as prepared for what may come. When I think about what had happened during this time, I realize that it is actually a good thing for me to be faced with these stumbling blocks now than later in my life as I believe adversity is beneficial. I am not blaming anyone here for what I have experienced as I was the one who made these decisions in the first place and therefore I should be the one to be held as accountable for their consequences, be they good or bad. I have let go the trivial things and now I am ready to a fresh start. And I think things will get better and better. Even if it unfortunately didn't, I would be able to handle it after this tough time.

Again, thank you for your kind wish and your inspiring story.
Reply Report Min1989 2014-9-1 22:15
ColinSpeakman: Use your overseas experience selectively - some folks will be jealous of it, others will feel you got out of touch.  You could explan to readers how t ...
Yeah, you are absolutely right  about  this. I shouldn't apply all the experiences I accumulated abroad in my teaching. I didn't write down why the Australian teaching method is not suitable in China because I thought I may bore the readers. All in all, it is just because the stark differences between the two education systems. Anyway, thank you for your sound advice.
Reply Report teamkrejados 2014-9-2 10:08
Pity you? Dear, I admire you!
Reply Report Ping88 2014-9-3 17:07
Reading your story makes me recalling the similar experience I encountered two years ago. At that time, i just completed my master degree in the UK and came back to the motherland looking forward to finding a decent job. However, life is always tough.  I told myself that "maybe you are not excellent enough so you are not able to meet the requirements of the job you desire for." Thus I became more realistic and re-identifed my strenghts and weaknesses and later obtained a job. Certainly, there may have some factors of "luck" throughout the process of job hunting. But what we should bear in mind is that we need uplift ourselves all the time. It takes time for many young people to engage to the society and the workplace. we can take baby steps, be patient and persistent. Sometimes, we suffer and we grow...
Reply Report seanboyce88 2014-9-5 01:01
I recently went home for a holiday in Britain, but it's true what you say, there is still an adaptation period. Your friends and family haven't changed as people at all in a way, yet travelling completely changes you and those who haven't travelled don't understand this.

As for the job market, treat every failed interview as a practice run, just like anything, practice makes perfect. You will make it in the end, don't worry about it.
Reply Report Min1989 2014-9-5 15:46
teamkrejados: Pity you? Dear, I admire you!
Oh, I'm flattered. I said that because I know there are a lot of people out there have it much morse than me. And I don't want people to feel that I was whining about the petty things. But, still, thank you for saying this.
Reply Report Min1989 2014-9-5 15:52
Ping88: Reading your story makes me recalling the similar experience I encountered two years ago. At that time, i just completed my master degree in the UK an ...
Thank you for sharing your story here. Yes you are absolutely right the I have to be patient. Honestly, being patient is never my thing which is also why I felt so depressed after coming back. But, now I see all the obstacles as opportunities to mature myself.
Reply Report Min1989 2014-9-5 16:04
seanboyce88: I recently went home for a holiday in Britain, but it's true what you say, there is still an adaptation period. Your friends and family haven't change ...
Thank you for your advice and encouragement. Yes, I think everything will be just fine in the end. Honestly, I am a control freak, when things don't go as my plan,  I tend to flip out. But, when I think this whole thing carefully, it is not bad at all as life is changing all the time and I have to get used to dealing with things which are not expected.
Reply Report rdelrosso2001 2014-9-17 08:13
I think you are doing a great job.  Self improvement is important, but please, do not be so critical of yourself.  China and Australia are 2 very different countries, with very different cultures.  So it seems normal that you would experience a type of “culture shock”.  But I think it would be very “boring” if all 192 countries in the world had the same culture. So, in a way, diversity is to be appreciated.

I think in China the learning method is “rote learning”, while in Australia it is more flexible, so this is understandable.  However, in some Chinese schools, I think in Shanghai, they are experimenting with more “flexible” learning methods, to obtain better results and to be more “creative”.  I have no idea how you would find them, but I just thought I would mention it.

My sister has been a school teacher for over 30 years and I can appreciate the hard work you do. It was hard for my sister to make the transition from one American State (New York) to another (New Jersey)! She had to get a New Jersey teaching License, as the New York License was not acceptable!  So I can see the difficulty in going from Australia back to China!

My sister has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Development.  Recently, I saw the work she was doing for her Doctorate.  I believe it will be in Educational Psychology.
She had to analyze a lot of data on students using Microsoft Excel, SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) and Amos (by IBM).

I have never worked in another country, but I have worked for many foreign banks (Indonesian, Greek and Israeli) in New York.  I could see that each bank has its own culture, its own unique way of doing things.   It can be a long process, but I believe you can adapt to any environment.

Last December, I had 4 job interviews in one week, after many months with none!  48 hours before my first interview, I developed a terrible tooth ache!  But I still went on all four interviews.  I told one interviewer that I am usually much better looking than this, but my face is swollen from the bad tooth.  (I did not want to postpone the interviews by going to the Dentist! Later, I did go to the Dentist! ) I did not get a job in Accounting/ Bookkeeping, but I am now focused on creative writing.

I also have suffered from Lymphedema (swelling of the legs) for 20 years and a Spastic Colon (upset stomach) for 36 years.  (I am 60 years old.)  As you said, “what does not kill me, makes me stronger”.  (I believe the German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) first said that.)  I am inspired by reading the Psalms.  Very often King David had a bad day.  He was being chased by Saul or the Philistines.  He was in the desert with little water.  But somehow, he finds the “silver lining” in each cloud.   Somehow, he finds hope in a situation that seems hopeless.  That is inspiring to me and gives me strength to carry on.  That is how we persevere through life, by finding hope wherever we can.

It was tough for me to pay $120 a month to the Electric Company.  (That covers $60 current usage and $60 to cover part of the $300 I owe them from previous bills!) I called them and explained my situation.  They gave me a new agreement.  So this month, I pay only $55 and next month, current charges plus $25, or only $85 per month.   I believe I am going to not only survive but thrive.

I also want to thank Ms. Natasha Bedingfield for the song “Unwritten”,  which inspired me as I struggled to “unclog” the words in my head “to open up the dirty window and let the Sun illuminate the words I could not find”, as the song says.  Somehow, after I was “staring at the blank page [or computer screen] before me”, as the song also says, those needed words were then transmitted from my head, and I then put the words on paper (or on the computer screen)!

I am not a “Professional Writer”.  I think of the process of writing as analogous to the creation of Laser Light:  I understand that the light in a Laser bounces back and forth between the two ends of the Laser.  One end is slightly transparent and eventually, the Laser Light shoots out of that end, in a very tight, coherent beam, with the photons marching together, like a well-disciplined army.

In my writing, the words may “bounce” around in my head a lot, much like the photons in a Laser.  Even though one side of my head is not “transparent”, the words eventually DO come out and onto the paper, or the computer screen!  The words may not be 100 percent “coherent” at first.  However, after some rewriting and “polishing”, I leave it to the reader to judge whether my writing is as “coherent” as a Laser Beam.

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  • The Purpose of Reading 2018-4-12 13:45

    we have the same feeling about. reading,reading. really tells us a lot especially when welearn foreign can help us to understand other. country's culture and customs.therefore,when we talk. in foreign languages.we. needn't worry about. making too. much also can enrich our life.let's enjoy reding

  • Why don't We Stand Out and Fight? 2018-4-4 14:14

    It is actually emotionally and mentally healthy to have nursing homes for old people in residential areas, and makes it easy for families to visit their elderly relations regularly.
    Death happens to everyone and it is stupid to hide it away. Death is not bad luck - it will happen to you and me.
    In some European countries there are homes for the elderly next to kindergartens, and everyone benefits from interacting with each other on a daily basis.
    The elderly benefit from interacting with children and keeps them mentally alert, whereas the young learn about death as a normal part of life.

    For a country that supposedly 'respects' their elders, China has a very superstitious attitude to death and dying.
    where i am from, the elderly are allowed and supported by family and state) to be independent and in their own homes.
    Where medical treatment is needed, residential homes allow the elderly appropriate facilities in towns and cities while their families can visit easily and local residents can interact with them.
    In addition, local communities benefit from being able to interact with these residents and the residents can still be part of a local community, not hidden away as something to be ashamed of or 'taboo'.

    Shame on China for such medieval superstitious attitudes regarding death.
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    Do you want to be isolated and hidden away when you are old and your family don't want to or can't visit you?

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