Expats back in their country

I am back in Belgium now for a couple of weeks and it is hard to be back. First of all, and the biggest problem, is that I have to live with my parents.

People here in my home country don’t know anything about the life I am living abroad. They haven’t changed that much, but I have changed and I am not used to the Belgian life anymore.

I have been living more than 9 years in China now and China is my home. Already for years I have a reversed culture shock. I don’t know much about life in my home country anymore. I don’t know the recent developments and what the popular trends are.

It has been harder and harder to come back. But, it is also due to the fact that I have to live with my parents and that they live in a small village with no public transportation. The contrast between the village and Shenzhen couldn’t be bigger for sure.

My husband came with me this time, so it was a good excuse to sometimes take my parents’ car and drive to another city to visit.

Village life is, I guess, in most places all over the world the same. People don’t like change; they want to keep the traditional way of living. So, we have been eating traditional meals with a lot of fries, Belgian waffles and of course a lot of chocolate. But, it’s not all about food. I feel that I have evolved into a life that my family knows nothing or very little about. They talk about Belgian things and assume I still know, but I have no idea about it.

All this makes me go into a little identity crisis sometimes: am I still Belgian or am I becoming more and more Chinese? This is the most difficult question and I don’t think I can answer: I consider myself still as Western, but not as much as pure Belgian.

Even though, I know it is also because of this village that I feel this way. I have a friend who lives in a big city here in Belgium and I still feel more connected with her. It is difficult to stay nice to my parents, though. I want to have a great time with them while I am here but I am getting annoyed with their close-mindedness and they still treat me as the little girl they knew.

All in all, it is always good to be back in my home country, because it makes me realize how much I have grown over the years. I am glad I got out of the village and took responsibility to live the life that I want and not one that society wants me to have.

 

 

Advertisements

Challenge yourself

On 17 September we did an Elite Challenge in Dapeng Shenzhen. We – my husband, I and another team member – went to Dapeng on Saturday evening. At 5am on Sunday, 17 September we got up and went to the starting point.

At 7am, we started with kayaking and swimming. My husband and I kayaked and our other team member had to swim. We had to get something and bring it back. We were the first to arrive back! A great victory at the beginning, but nothing compared to what we had to do next.

The other activity was to run 7km with 5kg on our shoulders. We were walking the way, because the most challenging would be the trail into the mountains and we wanted to conserve our energy.

The trail in the mountains WAS the most challenging! It was more than 33 degrees and we ran out of water after 1 hour. The trail was 13km, but because we were so thirsty, we moved quite slowly. After 3 hours, we finally found mountain water. It was the tastiest we ever had! We were drinking, filling our bags and felt really good. You can’t describe in words how real thirst feels like and how heavenly it is to have water. WATER IS really LIFE!

After only half an hour, though, we ran out of water again and felt really thirsty again. The trail was long, the sun was just too bright and hot!

When we finally got out of the mountains after about 7 hours, there was a checkpoint where they gave us water and food. I drank another liter and ate some food. Then, we had to run another 8km, but we were all tired and just walked fast while keep on drinking water.

At last, we had to do some ‘fun’ activities, like climbing over a wall and crawl under barbwire, but we were so tired, we couldn’t really enjoy that. We finally finished in less than 11 hours.

We got a medal and also our pride to have finished it. It was a real challenge, but overall I enjoyed it and want to do this more in the future.

We always have to keep on improving ourselves. With this challenge I know what my body is capable of, but also where my weakness still is, so I can train myself to keep on improving.

With this article I just want to tell everyone that everyone can do it! 2 years ago, I couldn’t even run 5km. Now, I run marathons and do challenges like this. So, you can shape yourself in whatever you want to become!

Qi Xi Jie – Chinese Valentine’s Day

Today is Chinese Valentine’s Day. I already thought it comes quite late this year as this is July 7 on Chinese calendar. But, apparently, this year the Chinese calendar had 2 times the month of June. Every 3 years or so they have a leap month instead of a leap day. So, this year they have 13 months! Imagine you have your birthday in June, you can celebrate two times this year…

I also thought to celebrate with my husband: have a nice evening, dinner, wine, candles,… you know what I am talking about. Not in the traditional Chinese culture. His son is with us, which I am ok with. But then all of a sudden his father called and will spend the evening with us as well. It’s not that I don’t like his father, it’s just that I can’t picture celebrating Valentine’s Day with parents.

 

So mandouble seveny differences in culture that I need to understand and that are not always easy.

Western habits

I am teaching at a Chinese company now for a couple of months. They asked me to help them to practice their English, because they will have to go to a conference in London in November to try to attract new business partners.
I love to teach them as they are very eager to learn and they are curious about the Western life and mentality. I realize that I have much experience now about Chinese habits too and am able to tell them that not all foreigners are used to China, its culture and habits.So, we should always bear in mind that when we are abroad people are not familiar with our way of living.When they asked if they could invite potential business partners to dinner, I also realized that I will have to teach them about the Western style of dining and the table etiquette. I know this is now also big business in China! I love it that we can learn so much from each other’s culture.
At home, we are a bit in the same situation. Our tickets are booked to go to Belgium in October. It’s going to be the second time for my husband, but I can see he is already getting nervous and wants to eat more Western food and want to eat with fork and knife again just to get used to it again.
I, on the other hand, love to eat with chopsticks. Even when I was in Belgium I would sometimes eat the food with chopsticks, because I am so used to it and I love the feel of it. I am amazed to see on how it opened my mind to live in another country and in a totally different culture. I appreciate things from Belgium much more when I am there, but on the other hand, I miss things from China a lot as well when I am there.


I feel that I have one foot in Belgium and one foot in China. My husband thinks of moving to Belgium in the future, but I am not so sure. Although, I do miss the European life, because it is more relaxed and quiet, but I also miss China when I am in Europe. I think once you are familiar with 2 cultures, it is hard to choose which one you like more: you learn to love and hate certain things of each culture. I do think it would be good to move to Belgium for a certain period, so my husband can experience what it is to live in another culture and also so he knows my culture more. But only the future will tell where we will live permanently.

Being an entrepreneur is tough!

To be an entrepreneur, you take a deep plunge in the unknown and you have financial insecurity for a while. You never know for how long and that makes me want to go back to a J-O-B (Just over Broke mentality).

I don’t want that and I pursue my dreams and my passions no matter what. I listen to Robert Kiyosaki, amongst others and I feel that because of our education, I am still with one leg in the left quadrant (employee and self-employed) and am struggling and learning on how to be with both legs in the right quadrant (business owner and investor).

Slowly, by feeding my mind every day with personal development videos, books and tapes, I am learning on how to have a successful business.

Who feels the same? What do you to overcome those days where you feel like giving up?

7 day juice fast

My husband and I will start a juice fast for 7 days, which is about our new project.

My husband had a restaurant for about 8 months and he could see what restaurant life was. He was shocked at all the food additives that existed and he got the insight that a restaurant is all about making money and doesn’t care about our health. So, they take the low quality cheap meat and vegetables, load it with food additives to look, smell and taste nice.

This was against his and my values! I was more than happy that he sold the restaurant, because I was against it from the beginning as I know that it is hard for a restaurant to keep high quality and still make money.

Our new project is about healthy, natural food. We are reading books and watching a lot of documentaries about healthy food and maintaining a strong healthy body. Later, we will give trainings in these health matters and we are looking for farmers in China to cooperate with us to sell organic food.

Our body is the most important thing we have. When we don’t keep it healthy, we can’t do anything anymore. Money can’t buy health, but you can buy good healthy foods. Many people, Chinese and Westerners, go to fast food places and don’t’ think twice about what they are putting in their mouth.

With this fast I want to see how I will change over these 7 days. We have been eating unhealthy for a few months now, because of the restaurant, because of being too busy to cook at home. And I can feel it: my skin has pimples, I have less energy and my mood is not so good. Last year, I was jumping out of bed at 6am to do exercise. Now I stumble out of bed after 8am and need more coffee to just wake up and start my day. This is not who I am.

I am taking control over my life again by taking care of my body and giving it the food it really needs. I see so many people around me that are unaware of what they are doing and we want to teach people, Chinese and foreigners, here in China and abroad about why we shouldn’t eat at restaurants and what a healthy diet really looks like!