Have any of you relocated with your Chinese spouse back to your home country?
Probably mid-summer this year, my wife and I will move to America. This is of course a huge change for us, and to be honest, I worry about the culture shock she'll encounter, along with the usual stress comes from a big move such as this. I'm wondering if any of you have had a similar experience? Do have any stories? Do you have any tips? I would be very interested to hear them.
pretzellogicFebruary 13, 2011, 01:21 PM
I would be curious to hear other stories from other couples as well. I know a few American/Chinese couples as well, so it would be interesting to see what the experiences have been. Probably a mix of everything, good and bad. The one experience that I know of with a Chinese spouse with an American spousemoving to the US didn't end up so well, but it would be me on the outside looking in on what that couple did and didn't do.
Speaking as the outsider, It was observed that the Chinese spouse basically never went to the US prior to the move (or prior to the marriage), so there was basically no chance to even see if they would like it, or miss China so much that they couldn't deal with leaving China to move anywere, let alone move to the US. There was no point in the American spouse saying as often as she did that she thought her Chinese spouse had unrealistic expectations of what the US was like. It didn't sink in.
Oh, unless the both of you have infinite patience with each other, you might want to consider having someone else teach your wife how to drive if she doesn't know how and you do. P>
I have met quite a few people whose Chinese wives/girlfriends want to move abroad because they think it will be easier. Maybe it can be easier work-wise, but I think the culture thing, as you spoke of, really can slap them in the face. My wife lived for a few months in Canada, but I am worried that that exposure wasn't nearly enough.
I would take heart in your wife's experience in Canada. At least she's been outside China, and most parts of English speaking Canada are pretty similar to the US from what I've experienced. If she liked Canada based on her experience, then ok. If she liked Canada because she was in Vancouver with thousands of other expat Chinese, but you're planning on moving to Michigan (I thought you said you lived near Grand Rapids, but i'm probably wrong), and there are 10 Chinese at the local Chinese restaurant and that's it for 40 miles around, I'd be a bit more concerned.
I suspect that in the prior cases I know about, there was also not culture shock, but really moving from big city Beijing to small-town America. I wouldn't blame everything on culture. Moving from Big city to small town in the same country is still a big change as you know. Is your wife doing that?
Haha, no she didn't go to a huge Chinese immigrant destination like Vancouver. She went to Saskatoon, which doesn't have a terribly large Chinese population, but... she did know a lot of the Chinese who where there, which cannot be said of my hometown... yet. Luckily, she does know someone from Grand Rapids, and I know a couple of Chinese in my hometown who know others...
Actually, my wife is originally from an even smaller town than mine. I don't think the size of the city would be a factor.
chanelle77February 14, 2011, 05:10 AM
My husband and I just moved back to our homecountry (both Dutch) after having lived for years in China , I am told that moving back is the biggest shock for expats.Although neither of us (me and my husband) is Chinese, I think we will have similar experiences!
So far so good (only here for 3 days), but I feel like I am in a holiday / as a foreigner in "my" own country. Some repat guidelines are: give yourself time (to fit in / again) and keep up with the language, find friends with similar background. Pretty much the same as expat guidelines.
Have heard quite some stories about Chinese / Dutch couples moving back and one of the "issues" : Chinese women missed their ayi. I can imagine it is challenging if you start a new life (maybe kid, job etc) and on top of that have to start doing everything yourself (which is common in Holland for example) and don't have the social network around (parents / in law). To be honest, I am already looking for a Chinese help to keep up with my Chinese! This might sound awful, but for me it is extremely important.
In my hometime there are quite some Chinese expats and yesterday when I was walking in the city centre I ran into 2 Chinese ladies and accidentally followed their conversation : they were referring to "laowei" when they were discussing the Dutch around them. I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut! :-)
I can completely understand keeping your Chinese up being important. I am a bit sad to move back in some ways. I really am not homesick, and I like using a language that isn't my mother tongue and having an environment that is different that what I grew up with. But there are also advantages to moving back, so that is what I shall do.
kaixin_in_tampaFebruary 14, 2011, 10:45 AM
Maybe see if the city you are moving to has a Chinese Meetup group (www.meetup.com, blocked here for some reason). You guys can meet other Chinese that live in that same city and also keep practicing your spoken Chinese with someone other than your wife. ^_^ I met some really good Chinese and Chinese-American folk through that website, really great experience.
That's a really good idea. My wife has met online one Chinese person who lives in my hometown, and I have a friend that married a Chinese woman. Other than that--nobody. I really would be sad if my Chinese just slowly withered away. Thanks for the suggestion.
chrisFebruary 15, 2011, 08:36 AM
It's a good question xiaophil and one that I too will need to stop avoiding if my company ever stops just extending my SH secondment year after year (it was only meant to be 2 years originally)! I'm a Brit and have been married for just shy of 3 years now but have always lived in China with my wife. In addition to your questions above, I'm dreading all the paperwork that will presumably need to be completed. I already know that a Chinese marriage certificate carries full legal weight in the UK too, which is good, but what I don't know is how to deal with things like residency when we do eventually move back to UK for good. I'm currently paying a fortune in visa application fees each year to ensure my wife always has a visa should we need to go back to UK - but I'd like to think that now we've been married 3 years that this is no longer necessary and she should have permanent visa or residence status or something. Anyway, you've no doubt been through all this for US repatriation purposes already. I probably just need to go to the British consulate and talk it all through with them!
We indeed do go through all the paperwork for her to immigrate. When the time comes, I would definitely suggest your wife looks around for a online "moving to the UK" group. My wife did this, and the help and knowledge she got was indispensable.
zhenlijiangFebruary 16, 2011, 09:38 AM
I agree, good question Xiaophil. Actually it's almost strange this discussion hasn't come up here before. Maybe some people have brought it up, just not that I recall.
I guess you and your wife have been talking about this, but I'm wondering how she feels about raising kids, esp baby care and how that's different in the US from China. Does this worry her much, being a new mom and everything? If it were me I think I might be a bit scared, to move so far away from my own mom, with a baby still in her first year to care for. It seems very important to keep your wife assured that she won't be left alone to raise the baby (of course I know you're there. but you'll be leaving the house every day to work, right?). Stay-at-home moms with babies or small children can come to feel very alone without people they can turn to for support, and this happens today even to (nuclear) families living in countries they grew up in, not just new arrivals in a foreign land. We hear such mothers in Japan say things like, "I haven't spoken with another adult all day". And basically it's the same kind of day, Monday through Friday for them. I don't know of course, that she is going to be a stay-at-home mom. I'm only assuming she is, at least initially.
If your mother is living close by that's good of course, she can offer a lot of support. But it also seems very important that your wife has people nearby, other mothers ideally, who understand the Chinese ways in baby care and parenting, so that she can ask for advice, but really importantly have someone she can talk to with whom she doesn't constantly feel like she has to explain her "foreign" thinking.
Sorry, no tips from me. Just wondered, how you two were feeling about this.
Wishing you and your family the best!
Good thoughts here. I don't think that my wife is especially concerned about differences in raising children. The one major exception is I'm afraid she will not like how comparatively little my mother will be involved in taking care of our baby. My mother is in love with her granddaughter, and she will love babysitting and so on, but where my wife is from, the grandmother would move in with us to take care of the baby all the time. That won't happen, and to be honest, I don't want that to happen, but it is hard to say how my wife will feel about it.
hkboyFebruary 17, 2011, 06:38 AM
I'd like to hear some stories too. I've been here in HK with my wife for about 8 years and we talk about going back to the US at some point. My wife has been back for several visits and really enjoys it quite a bit. However, I don't really think she could leave her mother here. They are too close.
Did you say your wife has been back to your hometown? How was it?
Good luck on your move and keep us posted.
My wife has never been to Grand Rapids or America, but she has been to Canada, so that experience should have helped her a bit. She was quite self-sufficient there, amazingly so, actually. So many Chinese board up with other Chinese and hide from the rest of the population. My wife didn't really like the Chinese she originally lived with, so she moved in with a couple of Canadians (who always ate her food, hehe).
I think you mentioned you were a new father. My wife is also expecting. My question: Do you have any strategies/thoughts on how you will raise your child bilingually? My future child will have problems getting enough English exposure as he/she will be surrounded everyday with Cantonese.
Congratulations! That's great news.
We are just taking a simple approach for now--my wife will speak to my daughter in Mandarin; I'll speak in English, no matter what country we live. I'm sure she will have a preference for which language she'll like to speak in. To be honest, I don't care which one it is as long as she feels comfortable speaking and writing in both (although I would be slightly happier if she felt most comfortable in English). But yeah, I hope she can write Chinese characters, and I hope she can spell well in English and write in a professional way. I'm sure whatever country we are in at the time, we'll have to find a way to keep the other language advancing forward.
I wouldn't be too worried about your child speaking English. I have met lots of Chinese children that lived in an English environment but spoke Chinese at home, and that was fine for them. I guess it is all dependent on how much time you can spend at home.
Thanks for the kind words. Did you give your child a chinese name? We are in the process of trying to select one. Although it seems the Chinese don't really want to get one until after the birth.
xiaophilFebruary 17, 2011, 08:55 AM
The lack of response here by even one person that actually brought his or her spouse back to the home country is pretty amazing. In China, it seems like at least half the foreigner men have a Chinese girlfriend. I have met quite a few that have done what I have and got married to a Chinese woman. It seems that, at least in this forum, very few actually make it out of China. Perhaps once they move, learning Mandarin isn't very important? Perhaps this forum is a fluke?
I think you're right mate - in my experience, most don't seem to make it out of China! I hope you stick around on the site after you get back - and do please give an update on how it all went! I for one would be very interested. Thanks, Chris.