Last year, July 2017, I arrived in Shanghai for the second time to attend a graduate program. My parents do not support me financially and I live on 3,000CNY (about 435USD) a month. The money I receive is from a scholarship from the Chinese government. I’m not allowed to work as it is illegal for students to work on a student visa.
I was lucky to have the chance to go home last month from October 16th through the 29th. After over one year, I thought I was ready to go home and enjoy my time. However, things went differently than I expected.
I thought I was ready, but my reverse culture shock was terrible. When I was home, I was happy to see my friends and some family, but I couldn’t adjust well even though I was there for only 13 days. You would think that because Michigan is where I grew up, it still would feel home when I arrived.
Not as much as it did before.
I didn’t like the feeling or the atmosphere of being back in the US. For so long I dreamed of living in China and now I have my chance. I’ve been separated from my family and friends for so long from back home that I am so disconnected with everything back home.
From my experience, there are two types of people who come to China. Those that love it so much and stay if they can, and those who stay for a short amount of time and go home permanently after leaving. I’m feeling as if I am the first type of person because I love China so much I can’t see myself living in the US permanently.
When I arrived back to Shanghai on the 30th, I realized that China was where I want to be right now until I get sick of it. However, I still feel conflict within my heart. I used to complain about how much I hated Shanghai, but now I can openly express how much I love it. I only love it now because of the friendships I made and the connections I have as a result of my research.
My conflict in my heart is whether I should stay in Shanghai after graduation because Chongqing also holds a special place within my heart as well. I have been talking to friends and family about possibly moving to Chongqing after graduation, but it will be harder for me because I don’t want to start over. I may love Chongqing food more (sorry Shanghai, but I need some actual 地道的重庆菜！authentic Chongqing food!), but it’s hard to leave my friends and start somewhere new.
So, where is home for me?
Shanghai or Chongqing?