The UK and China – how far are they away from each other? Let’s say London and Shanghai to be more precise. Though thousands of miles separated, they have many similarities and of course many differences which I’ll unfold in future posts. I live a couple of hours south of Shanghai in China. Upon returning, I noticed many things that I didn’t notice in London before and as I am back in China, I view China in a slightly different light.
I flew with Etihad Airways, an airline I’d never before flown with but provided an excellent service even when the plane had a slight delay in it’s take off. Comfortable, efficient and reliable, I would definitely recommend this airline when travelling long haul distances.
I was back in the UK for two weeks as a contract break. I extended my contract for a further six months after completing a year already. In total, I have about four more months left of this contract which isn’t very long. A year passes by ridiculously quickly. Looking back at my personal growth during the year away from home, I found I did most of the changing. I had to quickly adapt to a culture that isn’t as prime and proper as the UK is. We are pretty formal in comparison to the rest of the world. I had to learn the ways in order to fit in (overlooking my appearance). I had to learn to be uncomfortable. I had to stick out the not so cool parts (I shall explain those in another post.) I had to be a grown up for once and deal with whatever came my way. I’d say adapting is a skill you have to learn when travelling. Adapting to going home, adapting when leaving home.
My flight across the continents made me realise just how far Shanghai and London were from each other. I calculated the distance being around roughly eight thousand miles covered in 16 or so hours. I had lots of time to ponder these things. The flight wasn’t bad since I was going back in time zones and therefore gaining time instead of losing it. Jet lag was not a problem. I had a colouring book to conquer, music, and sleep to catch up on. My arrival in the UK felt as if, in truth, I hadn’t ever left. My familiar comfort zones were no longer a fantasy. I was actually in the UK … confession – I’d been counting down for about 6 weeks prior my departure…in other words from the moment I booked the flight. I felt as if I could blend straight back into the life I was used to. Little did I realise, I had changed and I now had to readjust to London that showed very little change for the better…in my opinion.
Without tooting my horn too much, I’m an alright saver. If I need to save money for a specific time in the future, I will make whatever sacrifices needed. I thought I had more than enough money to survive at home. I did. However, London’s prices were unbelievably expensive. Now, this maybe because I had left the country for a fairly long period of time, lived in a relatively cheaper place than the UK and therefore was having a bit of an adjustment shock. In my own land? Yes! Reverse culture shock happens in multiple forms. . I suppose without the exposure to another culture for such length, I would have just accepted the prices were fair. In my mind, I’d become one of those people, “it’s cheaper in China…” “in China you could buy the same thing or something similar for ‘x’ amount…” Out loud, I’d make those comments too which may have got annoying but it was habit. Note: I learnt to shake that “oh, it’s cheaper here in China than it is in the UK” and bought lots of things based on that notion in the early days of my living abroad life. Quickly, my money faded that way so I stopped that. When in Rome, you do as the Romans do and there’s a reason for that saying. They know where to go to get those good priced items, or food, or colouring books :D.
Not only had London’s prices had changed, my sense of comfort in London had changed. Let me explain. London, after returning from a holiday was always a relief to be home. Familiarity was always nice but when the novelty had worn off, London became frustrating in many ways again. Most of it was to do with finances or opportunities and the lack thereof.
I’ve seen what life is like outside of the UK. Though my life is still the same as a full time worker of someone my age in the UK– get up, go to work, spend all day there, go out maybe after work, go home sleep, repeat – I get the advantages they might not get enough those on higher salaries than I am on. I get to do what I like doing. I get to explore a land that’s so different to my own. I get to be a nomad, a photographer, a reporter, (a friendly) weirdo, a traveller… My lifestyle, though I complain about nothing to do in my area because there literally isn’t anything to do, still is better than the one I had at home simply because there’s a lotta grey areas of this country and Asia I haven’t explored yet and have the chance to do so.
Returning home just made me weigh up all what’s in the UK and how the other side of the world live. I have begun draw up the pros and cons. I like hot weather; which country/countries will provide that? I like to earn a decent amount of money to live comfortably, where are the opportunities to do that? I need experience in my field of work, where’s the opportunity for that? No doubt, my questions are ambiguous bordering vague but that’s how other questions in my mind begin to ask questions. The answers vary but there are many answers that would personally direct me away from the UK. Don’t get me wrong, I am not dissing the UK because every country has its flaws. I see that people in the UK work, work, work and barely see the fruits of their seeds. Personally, I wanna globe trot for a while. I’d take my hat off to anyone who decides to explore another country, living and working there. It’s great! Even though there are parts that won’t be comfortable or is frustrating it’s still an experience to note down in your life.
I wasn’t in the UK long enough for the novelty to wear off. I enjoyed it long enough to see family and friends and catch up with them. The part that is the worst about leaving home is leaving family and friends behind. I managed to see as many people as possible, but it’s still difficult to have a flying visit after being gone over a year. Interestingly, the long distance gap taught me to stop being lazy and “wait” for people to message/call me but call/message them if I wanted to speak to them! Makes the return home easier too 😀
Overall, the return home was rejuvenating. Being in one place for a year can be repetitive and makes you miss some important things that a tourist would acknowledge. Would I go abroad again? Definitely, because I know what to look out for and I know there are so many other places to see just in this section of the world alone! I would go abroad because I have a travel bug and staying in dreary England isn’t helping me ease it. I noticed the first night I got back that the water felt different. The next morning I woke up after taking a shower my skin dried out completely. I adore the sun and hot weather…not humid weather like Malaysia that was a bit too much, just hot weather. England just doesn’t supply that in its yearly weather forecast. But oh well, it’s still home regardless and I’ll always return home even for a brief moment.
Closing note: I have been meaning to post regularly about the life in China. Unfortunately, I was struck by speechlessness as I questioned myself – ‘how do I show and/or tell what life is like in China since so many aspects of this question can be covered?’ I quickly became frustrated and nervous at the same time when drafting and publishing a post… which lead to me procrastinating…which lead to no production… which then lead me to contemplating whether or not I should simply delete the whole website. A bit drastic but other overthinkers will understand the point.
With encouragement from folks around me – to whom I’m very grateful for – I dusted off Microsoft Word and began typing again.
Thank you to the people who encouraged me.