When I return to Arkansas each summer, I get bombarded with questions about China. Questions like: Do you have rice at every meal? Is it true that all they have to drink is tea and water? What can you say in Chinese? etc. But as I work through their series of questions, we usually arrive at something like: Don’t you miss being at home in the States?
Of course, there are things I miss about home. I miss my family, my friends. I miss clear, blue skies, crisp fall air, and spring rains. I miss catching fireflies and taking hikes through the woods–without having to stay on the paved trail–and from time to time, I miss American food. However, there are many advantages to living in a community of foreigners overseas such as the maintenance of community and tradition.
Living as foreigners overseas, we realize that we are all in the same boat. We are all living in a culture outside of our own. At times, we love and embrace that culture, and at other times, we are confused or “shocked” by it. When life is going well, we celebrate and support one another. We have movie nights, mixers, game nights, dances, etc. Just a few months ago, the ladies of our community threw me a small baby shower, It was intimate and beautiful–everything that I would have asked for in the States.
Yet, when culture shock hits. We are there for each other as well. During my first week in China, I experienced culture shock for the first time when, after a trip to the grocery store, I locked myself in my room for four days! During this time, I had people calling, texting, showing up with tea and cookies–genuinely caring for me and encouraging me to talk through my experience.
I tend to miss home the most around the holidays. I miss the time with my family, the holiday traditions, and of course–the FOOD! However, this is when the community really comes together in Peter Hall. We have Trick-or-Treating for the children for Halloween; we have a faculty Thanksgiving dinner and flag foot ball game, as well as a Christmas dinner, a night of caroling–and a slew of Christmas parties and gift exchanges all over Peter Hall.
These seemingly simple activities–as well as the FOOD–really helps us to feel at home in China during the holidays.
Meet the author
Kayla Dean is an Arkansas native who moved to China with her husband and son in 2017. Kayla graduated from Arkansas State University in 2011 with her M.A. in English, and she currently teaches English Composition for Fort Hays State University at Sias. In her free time, Kayla enjoys singing, reading post-apocalyptic novels, writing some poetry or fiction of her own, and spending time with her growing family in the great outdoors.
*Author photo credit due to FHSU*