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How do Chinese feel when they go back to live in China after living abroad for 4-5 years?




Yeming Xie
Answered Jun 6 2016
Three words: Reverse Culture Shock. I’ve yet to meet anyone who came back from overseas who does not believe this is real.


The shock can manifest from many negative feelings about the home country and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Could be the crowds. Could be the hygiene. Could be the etiquette. Could be the pollution. Could be the smoking and drinking. Could be the gossips. Could be the tradition. Could be the politics. Could be the disappearance of the fond old remembrances. Could be knowing that the all the old acquaintances have just moved on and no longer shares the interest and excitement. Could be the disappointment of coming back from the First World only to find out a grand bandwagon fest has just been missed out.


The size of the shock can depend on many things. The longer the absence the larger the shock. The shock also tends to be much milder when returning to large cities compared to the rural townships.


People also cope with those stuff differently. Some couldn’t take it mostly because of the self-reinforced sense of alienation and eventually moved back overseas (or stayed in the country in order to remain closer to the family but relocated to the more cosmopolitan areas and live like an expat). Some accepted it with a open mind and focus on the positive instead and enjoy a life full of conveniences and opportunities. I guess the trick is kind of like coming back from prison: you can’t expect to resume your old life. Maybe you can but don’t expect it. Most likely you’ll need to start a new one just like how you started one overseas. And retrain from fixating on small things like litter boxes and toilet papers.


I think all these development can be universally applied to people around the world not just the Chinese.


Mochou Lin Ou la la
Answered Oct 25 2016
Ten years in Western Europe and I find two things really annoying when I am back in China…


The vast majority of Chinese people just don’t know how to drive a motorized vehicle properly. They handle a heavy machine ( a car a truck etc ) as if it were a bike doing whatever they feel like and seriously don’t give a flying-whatsoever about other people. Traffic law does exist however not a lot people take it seriously. No priority-to-the-right ( la priorité à droite ) actually no sense of priority at all.


Google is censored and I have to buy a VPN.


Meng-Oliver Zhou Chinese in North America
upxed Feb 21 2016
I have been living in North America since 2012. I went back to China twice to visit my family in 2013 and 2015 respectively. My city still looked almost the same so did the residents. But nonetheless I noticed something I had never thought much about before.

我自从2012年就在北美生活,2013 、2015年我分别两次回到中国看望家人,我老家所在城市和居民几乎没有什么变化,但是,我注意到了一些我以前从未想过的事情。

1. Space. When I was waiting in line to buy some street food I left a gap of about seventy centimeters between me and the man in front of me like how people do here in Canada. Another man suddenly jumped the queue and occupied the space before me as he thought I was not waiting in the line.


2. Toilet and toilet paper. Many washrooms in China still use the traditional squat toilets and no toilet paper is provided. So I had to bring some tissues with me all the time. One time I forgot and I had to rush to a convenience store to buy some.

2. 厕所和厕纸。中国很多卫生间仍然使用传统的蹲式厕位并且不提供厕纸,我不得不随时带上棉纸。有次我出门忘记带纸,赶紧跑去便利店买了一些。

3. Price. When I was in China I was able to eat in restaurants every day since the food is so cheap and delicious. But I stopped going to cafes and bars there as these are much more expensive than in Canada.

3. 价格。我在中国时,我每天都在外面杀馆子,因为食物又便宜又好吃。但我从不去咖啡馆和酒吧,那里的价格比加拿大贵多了。

4. Public transportation. Definitely love it! Buses subways trains etc. Not only are they cheap but they are also very developed and frequent. And they go everywhere! The public transportation systems in Canada just seem pathetic even those in Toronto Montreal and Vancouver. It's extremely unpleasant to have only one bus every thirty minutes on most bus lines.

4. 公共交通。我爱死诸如中国公共汽车、地铁列车这类交通。中国的公共交通不仅便宜而且非常发达和高效,搭乘他们可以去任何地方。加拿大的公共交通系统非常的糟糕,即使在多伦多、蒙特利尔和温哥华这些大城市也是如此,多数公交线每三十分钟只有一辆公共汽车,令人非常不愉快。

5. Smiles. People in China don't really smile to strangers as opposed to some North Americans. We keep the smiles to our family friends and acquaintances. This is not a big deal. Just a simple observation.


6. Infrastructures. I simply think the infrastructures in Shanghai and Beijing are better than those in Toronto and Montreal. But there's still room for improvement.


7. Air. The air quality was really bad when I was there in 2013. I never realized it was that bad before.

7. 空气。2013年我回中国时,发现中国的空气质量真的很糟糕,这之前,我从来不相信空气质量有这么糟糕。

8. Convenience stores. They are everywhere almost in every neighbourhood. And the majority are open 24/7. I really hope I can find more of these in Canada.


9. Recreations. I would say North Americans and Asians in general prefer different kinds of recreations. When I was hanging out with my old friends we would always go to karaokes or restaurants and stick to our own group. We never went to any bar or club. In North America it's different. People are more sociable and it's easier to meet new people while hanging out with old friends.


Karen Zhang works at Samsung Uk
Answered Oct 17 2016
I have been living in the U.K. for 6 years. I go back to China almost once a year. There are a few things I experienced which are so called the reverse culture shock.


I noticed things we did pay attention to before when I was walking on the street for example when the moms or grandparents helped their toddlers poo on the street. It happened very often (3–4 times in two weeks) I was wandering why I didn't notice them before I went abroad then I realised I am just more sensitive about this kind of things. It is like you watch black and white movies for a long time then any colour on the scene will draw your attention.


Low tolerance to the noise. Everything is loud everywhere is loud including how my relatives are talking at a get together dinner. The hotel room is not quiet enough for me to fall asleep there is always noise outside most of the time it is the noise from the overnight construction work.


Low tolerance to smokers. Chinese cigarettes are stronger still a lot of people smoke indoor I don't enjoy breathing the toxic air in the restaurant especially if we had dinner in a private room.


Average wage is almost doubled prices increased obviously for consumer goods when people asked how much money I earn in the uk there is no big gap compared to people working in bigs cities in China.


Middle class life style is getting more and more mainstream among people 30–40 living in tier 1 cities more and more people invest in properties pay a lot of money for their children's education travel abroad 1–2 times a year. But work life balance is still not significantly improved.


Economy stagnates in small cities house prices are reaching a plateau there is more supply than demand for the real estate industry job opportunities are not growing most tenanted people prefer to work in big cities it leads to the recession of small cities.


upxed Jan 23
I was surprised to get so many answers and upvotes from Quora which is not what I expected. BTW this answer was so popular that one of my co-workers told me that he saw my answer on Quora which is so embarrassing because this answer is very emotion related. After one-year working in San Francisco I decided to go back to China this year. I feel so happy about this decision because this means I am going to end my five-year life overseas. What I have been thinking about everyday during last year was just wanting to leave and now I feel very happy about my decision. Thanks so much to all the people on Quora who gave me advice and encouragement. There are so many answers that I couldn’t reply to you all but thank you very much for all your answers!


I have lived in America for four years and now I work in San Francisco after graduating with a master degree. I went back home twice and each time I went back home I felt really bad. The reason why I feel bad is not about the difference of living situation between these two countries. It's because when I saw my parents I found they are getting old and need more care from me. Recently I have been dreaming of coming home for ten nights. I felt I owed my parents a lot. When I was a little girl I was expecting myself to work hard and leave home to realize my dream but now I realized I am not a good daughter. Another thing is I felt I am not used to the traditional chinese culture this is really not good I felt I am someone not like traditional chinese nor like american born chinese. There was and are chances for me to choose to stay in USA and the chances are a lot. But that kind of feeling always haunts in my mind. The older I grow The more eager I prone to go back where I came from for my parents. Maybe something happens someday and that makes me stay in America. But nothing can help with how I feel.