Reverse Culture Shock: Ningbo Style

It has been just over a month that I left Ningbo behind and I don’t know about anyone else but I feel like I am in mourning. Yes, I am rather a dramatic person but I have been followed by a little black cloud ever since I left that just takes me back to various moments that I remember or had briefly forgotten. I would do anything to be able to do it all over again and I wouldn’t change anything. I know that a lot of the exchange students I became friends with have gone through (or are still going through) the ‘Reverse Culture Shock’. It’s one of those feelings you get that seem utterly inexplicable to anyone. Thus because it is rather difficult for anyone to relate then it seems like I am hitting a brick wall a few times! So this is my take on it:

The first is: “where have my friends gone?” 

As I haven’t flown home yet, I haven’t yet returned to normality and been able to re-adjust to my daily life before I left. I guess not keeping myself busy with seeing friends and family again, moving into my humble abode in Nottingham and going through all the fuss of being back is not distracting me from wanting to go back to China. But that aside, I met some wonderful people on the exchange to Ningbo and basically, I miss them!

It is an odd thought that I’m not going to ever wake up again in Flat 406 to able to meet any one of the internationals for lunch, to hang out, go to InCity with, or even drag ourselves to the relentless 9am lectures… Also being more than friends with someone is equally odd to not have once I left. People say that it’s not worth the risk because it is just exchange – why let yourself risk being hurt at the end? but I disagree with that. If it happens, it happens. Because it will probably make you even happier than if you didn’t. It took me quite a while to let it happen when I was in Ningbo because I didn’t know what to do or how to feel, but letting it happen ended up being one of the best decisions I made. Even though leaving has been rather tough and the feeling as if I won’t move on… it was worth it. ❤

Despite being so fortunate to have the social media we have nowadays it is scary that it is not certain I’ll see half these people again. It is common knowledge that people you meet, who are not from your home country, in another part of the world are those you are more unlikely to see again. I half take this as a challenge to see them all again!

The second: “why don’t you understand what I’m saying?”

One of the biggest shocks that I still can’t adjust to is not being able to just use and mix more than one language into one conversation. Every time I say a single word in Spanish or Chinese (or any language I came across) my parents and brother just stare at me blankly until I realise, I’m not amongst internationals anymore… I became so accustomed to hearing a mix of languages being spoken around me that I am finding english a rather boring language right now! I basically miss the multiculturalism that we were exposed to being on an international campus. From day one the notts girls and I conversed in a mix of English, Chinese (only a little) and definitely “Chinglish”. As we got to know others more languages were added to the mix. The girls all practiced their french with the Frenchies and our friends from Montreal. And I practiced Spanish with Luis. Towards the end of our trip, Luis and I, at times, spoke in four different languages in one conversation! (English, Spanish, Chinese and very awfully pronounced Korean.)

Another thing is our english grammar is shocking. Many of us from Notts definitely had a few moments where we had to double take what we had just said and correct ourselves! And that is still happening despite having returned back to the western world..

The third: “why is water that expensive? it should never be that expensive..!”

One of the main conversation topics in Ningbo involved many of us comparing the prices of basic food, activities or even sofas to our respective homelands. We all agreed (except for Luis who said that food was cheaper in Mexico) that China is BONKERS cheap. Our meals averaged around £1 if we ate in the canteens or £2 if we ate in the campus restaurant yummys. Even eating outside of campus cost about £3. It may equal to what a student would spend in Sainsbury’s for a weekly shop but it comes with the perks of not having to cook it nor wash anything up! Wahey…! It was also rather cheap to travel around the country. A two hour train journey to Shanghai on a high speed comfortable train ( bought on the day or in advance) cost between £9 – £15 which is a bargain compared to trains in England. If you were to decide to go to London for a day (which is the same length journey) you would have to fork out £35 atleast. And that price is for railcard holders which gives them a third off the total price! Outrageous… See my distorted view of reality?

The fourth: “can I just have all the moneys to be able to travel now please?”

That pretty much sums it up. I am constantly trying to work out a million different ways to go around the world to see people. Thus I am just putting off the facts that my bank balance gives me a flat out ‘no’ and my conscience keeps mentioning “but don’t you have an really important degree to study ridiculously for…?”.

Pfffft. I’ve been bitten by the travel bug and just having friends living in various places totally justifies my reasons to going places without worry. (That’s not a complete accurate portrayal of what my response would be but it’s what I’d love it to be!)

This articles I’ve linked below sums up the ‘reverse culture shock’ perfectly with the most appropriate gifs (of which I agree with alll of them)! Enjoy 🙂

I hope this short post just gives you a bit of an idea of what it’s like coming back from being abroad. Although it is so lovely to be back with our home comforts that we craved and seeing family who we missed, it does twist our vision or reality a little. One thing I do know is that I am going to move back to Asia (probably China) when I graduate next year. And I am so excited for it to happen when it does 🙂