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Opinion / Blog

Going "home" for the first time in four years

By SharkMinnow (blog.chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2016-07-29 16:38

Going

Lake Louise draws visitors to the mountain town of Banff in Canada. The country's natural and cultural destinations anticipate waves of Chinese visitors as new direct flights enhance ease of entry.[Photo provided to China Daily]

It has been a while since I've contributed to this Forum and I figured that since now 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.I have lived in China since 2002, but this is the first time that I have gone so long 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 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 in 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!

The original blog is at: http://blog.chinadaily.com.cn/blog-1562004-36506.html

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