Friday, July 24, 2009

The grass is not always greener...





Is it only me who’s a complete ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ type of person? I drive myself crazy with all this: when I am in China I spend days missing my friends and family, I complain about homesickness and I fill my iPod with Swedish songs (that I –when I am in Sweden- would never admit to that I sometimes listen to…) and miss speaking Swedish with natives. However, put me back in the ‘land of my roots’ and what am I doing? Planning visits to Chinese restaurants, telling everybody how much I miss spicy food, listen to Chinese music (something I never do in China! However now I am suddenly ‘hooked’ on Xiao Gang), and catch myself feeling light and happy when I bump into Chinese people in the city… It’s both ironic and kind of useless… why do I keep doing this to myself? Why do I always want to be where I am not? Is it only me acting like this or are there other people that have similar experience?




22 comments:

Hanson said...

could be the curiosity or the desire of exploration. Sometimes people are hungery to know what they haven't encountered before.

I study and work now in germany, however my hometown is the chongming island in shanghai. also miss the time that I spent in uni-tongji.

When I'm in germany, I miss shanghai, but vice versa.

HelloWorld said...
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Sink said...

Jonna, I mentioned your awesome blog in a post of mine and there is a little 'award' for you.
I love your story in and out of China.

le embrouille blogueur said...

Sometimes ....we get hooked on to one place and everything else with it and we do not even realize that till we have been relocated from that place ...you are not alone !!

Hopfrog said...

I think its quite natural. In 2002 I hiked the Appalachian Trail which is a 2,168 mile hiking trail that goes nonstop from Georgia to Maine through forests and over mountains. When we were out on the trail (Usually for 1-2 weeks straight) all we could think about was getting into a town, eating fast food, watching movies, and using the internet.

After a few days in town all we could think about was getting back to the peace of the wilderness, the scenery, and away from all the distractions of society.

Well this cycle repeated itself for the 6 months it took to complete the journey and what it made me realize is that we don't really appreciate our situations until we are out of them. Even situations as extreme as camping in the woods or wandering in a city.

I'd guess China and Sweden are about that extremely opposite too and no matter what, you will probably always miss the one your not a part of.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! I wonder if a Chinese like me who grew up in the 1960-80's of China would ever miss China while living in the West. I can tell you the answer is no. For you as a Swede, Sweden has something nice to remember. For me, China, nah! Only dictatorship and its totalitarian policies. Granted, foreigners aren't affected by China's political system and at worst might be inconvenienced by it. That's why so many laowais still hold an idealistic view of a communist nation like China.

Carl said...

Great looking garden plot, Jonna! By the way, I think that is a very human trait ... to want what we don't have. Perhaps you just have an extra dose of it, that's all. haha. Thanks for sharing the photos and the great posts!
Carl

MKL said...

Funny, I have the same experience, but I used to stay in Malaysia, so I miss that country and people when I am in Europe. It's hard to explain, but I call people like us "people with 2 home countries".

HelloWorld said...

Me too. It is common. But I like keep relocating an travelling. It makes me love my home town more and more.

HelloWorld said...
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Office Pantau Foundation said...

I lived in India for 7 years (in the hometown of the Dalai Lama in the Himalayas) but moved to Thailand 3 years ago. I keep feeling homesick. Not the Netherlands where I was born, but to the Tibetans in India. I listen to Chinese, Korean and Japanese music as I don't like Thai and Indian music, but I guess the grass is always greener applies to me too. I am going back to the Himalayas for 3 months in the spring, hopefully to realise that my life in Thailand is actually not so bad.
Good luck, and I am glad to read you miss China and the Chinese. Good luck and all the best from Bangkok. Pantau

TalesOC said...

On my first trip to Asia I got a craving for food from home and found myself at a McDonald's. I wanted very much to see and experience Asian culture, and ... well, we see where I wound up eating.

Now, I've been living here for about a year and something tells me that when I get back to the US there will be things I miss, like the good prices on transit fare, how convenient it is to get to everything, and some of the food.

There are a lot of times though where I talk about how much better certain things are in the US, but perhaps when I get back there, those things won't seem so fabulous anymore, and I'll miss living abroad.

WoAi said...

You know what would be good? If wherever you go you think this is an amazing place I wanna stay here. But that's not human nature. I actually loved being back in London but after a week or two you definitely feel like it's time to get back to China and have some proper Chinese food.

The way to look at it is to say you are lucky you have had the chance to enjoy so many lifestyles that you don't know how to choose where to live. In other words, it's a good problem to have!

HelloWorld said...
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Jonna Wibelius said...

First of all, I'm glad to hear that I am not the only one feeling like this. It's cool to know there are so many people with similar stories/thoughts. I just feel like a fool when I'm chatting to my friends over here and I tell them how much I miss China, and they go: "But, like.. when u called us some weeks ago u were dying to come back to Sweden?!" And I'm like "yeah, well....". It's hard to explain but it's great to know that a lot of people are like me and like Woai pointed out, it's a quite "good" problem to have, if it even can be described as a problem.

Hanson -yeah u r probably right. When I am in China I really long for a more stable life but then when I get over here I feel as if I am not done with being 'root-less' just yet...

Hello world -yup, sure is.

Sink -Just checked it, you're so sweet! Thanks a lot for those kind words! :)

le embrouille blogueur - That's exactly how it is! You don't know what you've got until it's gone! I love it when people come and visit me in my hometown (or, places where I have lived for some years) and I have to show them around. It's so cool because u always discover a new side to your 'old town'.

Hopfrog -your comment is spot on. I remember when I was visiting the poor mountain villages in south-west China, and all I kept thinking about was proper bathrooms and a shower... but nowadays when I speak about my week in those mountain villages I hear myself describing it as a 'fantastic opportunity' and that I had a truly amazing time. Funny how you can't see it while you are in it, but need to let it settle before you can go back and truly appreciate it all. I sometimes think that we feel like this because we have too many choices in life. We're almost too spoiled with being able to choose for ourselves.

Anonymous -I'm not sure that a lot of laowais have that idealistic view of a communist nation that u mentioned...I think most laowais that have an interest in China would know at least a little bit about China's history.

Carl -haha, garden plot. Yeah, I love the green nature, can't get enough of photos of it... :)

MKL -yup, but what do u do when u suddenly feel u have 2, 3, or even 4 places that u consider to be 'home'....?! It's silly. Still I know that Sweden is my 'real home' but that doesn't mean that I necessarily wanna live here in the future. 18 years might be enough... well, let's see!

Pantau -how interesting that u r going back to have a look and let yourself realize that your life in Thailand isn't that bad. U have to let us all know how u go!

Tales -yup, but one thing is funny about food. I hype Swedish food as soon as I am abroad.. but once I get back to Sweden I feel that 'yeaaah, it's good but like... it's not THAT special'... meaning that after 2-3 meals I have gotten used to it and don't feel like trying all those things that I've been 'missing' for the last 7 months or so... But during the first few days 'home' eating is a pure pleasure! :)

Woai -like I said, you're right... I keep thinking to myself that if China wasn't as hot during summer + the air/nature was a bit better, I could live there for a veeeery long time and not complain about anything... and then I keep thinking that if Sweden only had some more people + a bit more diversity + international companies + opportunities, maybe this place wouldn't be so bad either... ahhhh!!! It's never gonna happen, but it's still 'fun' to those lists. I already know I'll never find a place that has it all. It's just how it is in life. But like u said, having a few places u can go in between isn't a bad solution... So I should actually feel happy rather than bummed about it.

TalesOC said...

Ya. I do remember you talk g about splurging at the grocery store. I'm sure I'll do the same.

N said...

A friend of mine lived in Asia for 3 years and during that 3 years he never did stop complaining about life over here. And every time he went back home in Europe it was like in heaven for him. Friends and family surrounding him, comfort food, good weather and clean air, everything the way he wanted. So much so that he decided one day he's going home. And you know what, 2 months later we heard that he missed Asia. That people especially fellow expats in Asia were so close to each other, there had been so much to do after work, everything was so cheap, etc etc, while back in Europe he realises friends are all busy with their own life and he's no longer the centre of the circle like he used to be when he was on occasional visits, people in general are indifferent, he's nobody in the company not like in Asia where expat meant superiority, winters are bitter, and most of all he feels that everything has moved on since he left 3 years ago and he is now like experiencing the whole 'living in a foreign country' again. Last I heard, he's trying to get back to Asia. Not sure if he could make it though, with this world recession.

Now that's a bad case of the grass is greener on the other side. Its totally normal to want what you don't have, the point is to enjoy what you do. And Jonna I think thats exactly what you are doing. And thats why this blog is so much fun to read!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Tales -impossible not to. This year I have managed not to do it yet... although I know it will happen eventually.

N -yeah, I am really scared of ending up like your friend.. that's why I really try to remind myself how lucky I am to even have the chance to live abroad.. however, it is veeery easy to forget! This kind of post (and people's comments) is a good way to remind myself that the whole 'the grass is always greener' attitude isn't really the way to go. Thanks for your nice comment! :)

Diederik said...

Love this post! Nice to read your experiences back "home". Of course I also miss friends & family and I think the first couple weeks will be great when I finally get home. But after those first weeks, I have no idea how it's going to be.

Anyway keep it up!!

TalesOC said...

I thought you said something about going to the grocery store and coming back with all sorts of treats like Ben & Jerry's, but you forgot the things like potatoes?

Well, maybe that's not splurging. Just ice cream after all. ^_^

Mark's Blog said...

I feel exactly the same ,you are not alone! haha

anyway, I found it interesting and inspiring

ArneA said...

Borte bra men hjemme best?
De siste blogpostene dine tyder litt på dette.
God tur tilbake. China er fasinerende og dette vil bli Asias og Chinas millennium. Begynn å lære Cantonese asap