Tuesday, 23 February 2016 02:21

Pocket-Sized Chinese Menu to Make and Carry!

Ordering Chinese food in China can be extremely difficult for most people coming to live or travel in China. Whether you are an English teacher living and teaching in China, or you are planning a holiday to China, the chances are that at some point you are going to be very stuck on how to order food.
The problem is that most small to medium-sized restaurants in China (that's about 98% of all restaurants in China) will have no pictures to point at on their menu and no English to read from. Additionally, the waitresses in small Chinese restaurants will not be able to understand any English at all. This makes ordering food in a Chinese restaurant in China very tricky if you don't speak or read Chinese well.
Download our Pocket-Sized Menu to Make and Carry!
We have made a really cool pocket-sized mini-Chinese menu for you to print, make and carry. The mini-menu is free and has all of the main dishes you'll like from rice, noodles, meat dishes, vegetarian choices, spicy food and non-spicy foods as well as beer, tea and other beverages. 
Simply download the free printable pocket-sized menu below, print it, fold it as instructed, and then you'll have a super handy Chinese menu to carry in your pocket, bag, wallet, purse or rucksack!
The menu comes in English, the Chinese next to it to show the waitress and also in pinyin so you can have a go at saying the dishes too if you want. Download the free Chinese menu below and always carry it with you! Job done!

by Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen China
Published in Articles about China
Po is an overweight panda, who works in his uncle's noodle shop in China. He is a martial arts fanatic and dreams of one day leaving his boring job in the restaurant and becoming a Kung Fu master! He eventually leaves his job selling noodles and goes to a mystic temple, high in the Chinese mountains to study Kung Fu with the grand master.

Up high in the mountains is a mystic scroll, and legend has it, that whoever has the scroll and reads its contents, will be endowed with supreme knowledge!

Kung Fu Panda is fantastic for children and in this ESL craft activity for writing, your students will be making their own aunthentic-looking ancient scroll (with real ancient-looking paper!) and writing their own 'mystic message' inside. This Kung Fu Panda craft activity lends a perfect platform for your students to do some creative writing and then can give their scroll to their parents after; perfect for English school activities.

Want to instantly download Kung Fu Panda movie file for this craft activity? Click here - you'll be helping this website to keep going.

For the English Teacher

Aims: Students have to make their own mystic Dragon Scroll with their own poem to show and display
A large bowl of strong tea (cold)
A4 paper (one per scroll)
Lots of sticks/chopsticks (two per scroll)
Kung Fu Panda Craft Activity: Getting Ready

The night before, prepare your ancient scroll paper by soaking the A4 paper in the tea for 30 minutes and then allow to dry. This will leave you with really authentic ‘ancient’ paper! This part is optional, of course. You will also need two sticks for the top and bottom of the scroll, chopsticks or paintbrushes will do, but real sticks look better!

What to Do in Class
Show the following clips to the students. This will set up the background of the film, how special the scroll is and make them ultra excited about making it! It will make them feel like their own scroll has an ‘aura of magic’!
First scene shown (05:05 - 07:30)
From when Shifu is playing the flute and the temple is first shown. This scene introduces some of the characters in the film and, more importantly, introdueces the fabled Dragon Scroll. It tells that the holder of the scroll will have limitless power and only the Dragon Warrior can hold it.
Second scene shown (18:55 – 25:50)
Po enters the Secret Hall of Warriors. The scene develops the feeling of magic and sorcery in your students. It shows Po checking out secret weapons and generally getting into mischief. The story of the Dragon Scroll is furthered and Po gets into trouble when first trying Kung Fu. The students will love this scene!
Third and final scene shown (1:00:00 – 1:03:52)
This scene shows Tai Lung, the evil snow leopard, defeating the other five warriors. The scene moves on to the temple where Po finally takes the Dragon Scroll. Master Shifu tells Po that the poem on the scroll holds the secret to limitless power and will help Po to defeat Tai Lung.
Important! Be sure stop the movie before the scroll is totally unravelled (just before Po gets the shock)! There is nothing on the scroll and your class won’t be as good if the students know this! 
Teaching tips
As with any movie lesson, try to watch the scenes of the movie well in advance. This will help you to get your mind ready for the class and you will feel far more comfortable teaching the lesson. 
With this particular lesson, don’t feel under pressure to make the special paper beforehand. It is a nice touch and the scrolls will look better, but it doesn’t enhance any language skills, so don’t get too worked up over doing it if you haven’t the time or materials.
Before you start making the scrolls, talk with the class what kind of things will be in the poem on the scroll. Write any student ideas on the board as they throw them at you. This part is crucial to give students some clear ideas on how to write their poems on the scroll. Don’t rush this part, even though the students will be eager to get started making the scroll. Stay in control of what goes on.
Make sure the students write the poem (or whatever they can write according to ability) first before attaching the sticks at the top and bottom. The students will be keen to construct the scroll first and then write the poem (kids are kids!), but it will be difficult to write on the paper after the sticks are attached! Kids usually aren’t that practical!!
There is no need to show the clips in 100% English (without the help of first language subtitles). Having first language subtitles aids their understanding and enjoyment of the movie. The main language aim of the class is the poem writing; the students will miss the ‘feeling’ of the class and the whole lesson won’t be as stimulating if you insist of doing everything in English! 

Lesson by Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen

Published in Movie lessons
Thursday, 28 January 2016 09:48

Hash House Harriers: Xi'an, China

"On On!" screamed Stuart (Hash name: Foot Fetish), as he spots another discreet arrow on the pavement running towards Da Ming Gong Park!  "Follow the Arrows marked out on the pavement, while being aware of any trick arrows, and most of all... don’t get lost!"

Myself (Hash name Tiny Tim from Australia), and Luke (Sheep Shagger – New Zealand), both Kindergarten teachers during the week in Xi'an, spent the morning as the ‘hares’, marking the arrows for all runners and walkers to follow that afternoon.

Which Way to Run??

The crowd of Hash Runners come to an ambiguous hault as two arrows point separate ways at the top of a hill, one way being a dead-end down the hill. Written in white chalk is 'MAN' for a left turn 'OR MOUSE' for a right. There is laughter among the crowd, others looking nervous as they ponder looking deep in their souls which way they will run.

"I’m a man!" yells one young American student proudly, "I’m a mouse, so I’m turning right", whispers a local student to her friend....talk about getting people out of there comfort zones! The correct way to run was actually 'Mouse', and all the people who ran the wrong way have to come running back up the steep hill!

Who are The Xi'an Hash House Harriers?
No, it’s not a drug run from province to province across China, rather the Hash House Harriers (HHH) started in Malaysia in 1938 for British expats. HHH is a ‘Drinking club with a running problem’ and now has chapters in London, New York, Xi an and hundreds of other locations all around the world. 

Each week (or month, depending on the city you are in), members of the Hash House Harriers, or H3, meet at a set time and place to run a secret trail that a 'hare' has laid earlier in the day. Each run is between 5-10km, and there are always cold beers to be drunk at the end of each run.

In Xi'an, the Hash House Harriers, meet twice a month; once on a Saturday and once on a Monday. We run in different places all over Xi'an, so whether you are new to Xi'an or an old head, you will discover new and unknown places in Xi'an...from dirty back streets, to cool parks, ancient temples to upmarket shopping malls...no place is off limits for Xi'an Hash Runners!! On! On!

The Da Ming Gong Park Hash Run
So here we are, 30 or 40 people, all limbering up outside Da Ming Gong Metro station, with beer or water in hand at 3.30 pm on a sunny Saturday afternoon (it’s like we are ready for a Rugby World Cup decider, the anticipation is too much!).

Foot Fetish starts proceedings for all the new faces: "Make a circle, if you're new stand in the middle and introduce yourself, say where you are from and what you do". A cross-section of people has arrived: different ages, professions and nationalities; all joined together once a month on a Saturday and Monday (the Monday Hash Runners for people who work weekends, Saturday Hash Runners for those who work during the week).

The introductions are done and we are about to make a move, before an American accent announces that its ‘selfie time’- Elysia from Kansas takes the photo only for Stu to murmur "this could be a definite infraction..." with a little grin…We begin jogging, the Xi'an Hash Run is officially underway. 

Hash House Harriers Xi'an: Half Way Point
"There will be a special half way meeting point, for you all to have a rest, catch a breather, have a chat for half an hour or so....and drink a cold beer!" explains Stu. The half-way point provides beer (Hash running and drinking beer are closely connected world wide!) and time to relax on top of a stone heritage landing overlooking the Park.

A high enough point to gaze out through the clear day and blue skies to see the mountains which surround Xi an - quite a rarity this time of year. The strong turnout of Hash Runners enhances the energy and overall vibe of the Xi'an H3.Soon we break out into song, rap, and beat box…. "hey baby", the Hash Run theme song. It is rare everyone makes it to the half-way point together after 4 or 5 kilometers of running or walking, and others just get lost...having missed a few of the arrows on the way, so we are still waiting on a few individuals.

The challenge of the Hash Run is to follow the arrows correctly (sorry Foot Fetish and Blow Fish better luck next time!)

The stragglers arrive and the crowd poses for a photo, and of course another rendition of "Hey Baby!" before continuing the Hash run.
Continuing the Hash Run as the Sun Sets
The sun is getting low as we pull in to the end point. Foot Fetish calls for a circle again: "It is the end of the run, but not the end of the fun". It is time for the Hash Run rules to come out to play, "the most popular and everyone’s favorite part of the day" says Blow Fish, an experienced hash runner.

The Hash House Harrier Rules are as follows: If you turn up for the run wearing new shoes = must drink from your shoes (yes drink your beer from your dirty smelly ‘new’ shoe).

First Hash run = finish your drink.

After attending 5 Hash runs you will be given a 'Hash name' = beer poured over head by everyone.

What are Hash Names?
The Hash names usually involve a raunchy, sexually-orientated theme. Enter Sadeek: a student from Bangladesh, who had his fifth run. After various ideas, names like ‘Suckdeek’, 'Too Much Sun', everyone decided on Bangladick, boom! Another successful hash run name....Sadeek will now be called 'Bangladick' at every Xi'an Hash Run (or any other Hash Run he goes to globally)...Hash Names are forever!

Accusations or Infractions in the Hash Circle
Finally it was time for the 'infractions'...

Infractions mean runners can call out other runners into the middle of the circle and vilify them for any reason (they may be called out for arriving late to the run, or maybe just not liking their haircut or colour of the T-shirt!). So it was only fair I gave Elysia from Kansas an infraction for holding up the whole run to take that selfie at the start of the Xi'an Hash Run! Harsh but fair.

She finished her drink in good spirit. We finished with a Kao Rou BBQ dinner within walking distance which topped off a brilliant afternoon and night. Join us next time on the Xi'an Hash Run!

Join the Xi'an Hash House Harriers

Join the group on WeChat. Also in 2016 there will be an inter hash in Bali, join the We Chat group to find out more. If you are reading this and are either new in Xi'an, or coming to Xi'an on holiday and want to Hash Run, then please email stuart@rayenglish.com and we can help you to find the Xi'an H3! On! On!
by Tim 'Tiny Tim' Synnott
Published in Articles about China
Monday, 25 January 2016 04:11

11 Things to See and Do in Chongqing

Chongqing is one of the four large municipalities in China, after Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. It is the largest city is south-west China. Chongqing is a river port city, where the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers meet. It is also a ‘mountain’ city and a stunning place to live and teach. 
As a traveler, Chongqing is the ideal location, as it has a number of world class tourist spots and also has borders with Hubei and Hunan to the east, Guizhou to the south, Sichuan to the west, and Shaanxi to the north. Besides Han Chinese, which makes up the majority of the population, Chongqing and the surrounding area also has a number of Chinese ethnic groups.
Fun facts about Chongqing
- Chongqing has a large monorail system to get around the city on!
- Newcomers to Chongqing often get lost because of the numerous hills and confusing streets in the city!
- Chongqing was the capital city of China during World War II because the Japanese controlled the east coast of China!
- There is a harbor area in Chongqing called Chaotianmen Harbour which has a large number of interesting and unusual fleamarkets!
11 Great Things to See and Do in Chongqing
#1 - Foreigner Street
This is an entertainment, shopping and amusement park area in Chongqing where foreigners have been encouraged to open shops and bars. Here you can discover an ‘upside-down house’, a church, the world’s largest public toilet (!) and some great people.
#2 - Underground Arcade and Outdoor Beer Gardens
These areas have countless bars and restaurants, and after a long day of teaching, many foreign teachers and ex-pats living in the city will head over for a much needed cold beer and some good Chinese food. A wonderful place to chill out and relax. Very cheap.
#3 - Chongqing Jiefangbei Pedestrian Street
This is the heart of the city and contains a large number of malls, restaurants, hotels, banks, trade, telecommunication services and over 3,500 shops of all kinds. This is the uptown district of the city. At the centre is the tall Peoples Liberation Monument, which commemorates victory in the Sino-Japanese war.

#4 - Ciqikou
This is an ancient port village near to Chongqing which is known as the ‘Porcelain Village’ because porcelain china used to be made and traded from this area. Coming to this village is like stepping back in time to a forgotten China.
#5 - Forest Park Shengdeng
This tranquil forest park full of flora and fauna is located on Shengdeng Mountain, close to Chongqing. It is over 1000m above sea level and it is said that the Ming Emperor, Jing Wen, took refuge up this mountain.
#6 - Yangtze River Cruise
This peaceful cruise will take you through one of the cradles of Chinese civilization. Read a book and take in the stunning local scenery from the water.
#7 - The House of Zhou Enlai
For those interested in history, this will be of particular importance. Zhou Enlai was a senior member of the Communist Party during the days of Chairman Mao. He was a hugely popular man and genuinely tried to help his country at every turn. His former home is now a museum and for a small fee you can go there and see how he lived.
#8 - Chongqing Hot Springs
Deep under Chongqing lies a labyrinth of natural volcanic water systems. These bubble up to the surface, meaning Chongqing has some of the best hot springs anywhere in China. When you aren’t teaching, why not head over to one of the hot springs, immerse yourself in hot volcanic water for the day and ease all those aches and pains away?
#9 - The Yangtze-River Cable Car
For only 5RMB, you can take a cable car over the Yangtze River. The ride gives spectacular views of Chongqing.
#10 - Chongqing Hua Yan Tourist Spot
This is a large temple which includes a Buddhist monastery and a huge golden Buddha. This temple complex is tucked away within a lush valley on a small lake. It is amazingly right in the centre of an urban built-up area of Chongqing.

#11 - Eat Chongqing Hot-Pot
Before Chongqing became a municipality in 1997, it was culturally and geographically part of Sichuan Province and so shares its hot, fiery food. Hotpot is famous and wildly popular all over China, but all people in China recognize Chongqing as being the top place in China for the best hotpot!
Teach English in Chongqing
www.rayenglish.com has some excellent teaching positions available in Chongqing. To check out our Teaching jobs in Chongqing click here
Published in Articles about China
Monday, 25 January 2016 03:33

Things to See and Do in Xi'an China

Xi’an in China was one of the four great ancient cities in the world, along with Rome, Athens and Cairo. The city has a wealth of cultural artifacts and jaw-dropping places to visit. Xi’an was the starting point of the old Silk Road to the west, and so the city enjoys a unique mixture of history and heritage not found anywhere else in China, as the customs, religions and ideas from the west all had a distinctive influence over the years on the city and its people.

Xi'an: The Home of The Terracotta Warriors
Xi’an is the home of the Terracotta Warriors; the hidden clay army which lay undiscovered for two thousand years until a farmer digging a well in his field discovered a single mysterious statue many metres under the soil. Xi’an also has an ancient city wall with battlements which still surrounds the city centre today.

Xi'an City Centre

The city-centre itself is built around the famous Bell Tower, well over a thousand years old, which had bells which rang out to wake the citizens of Xi’an and to signal the opening of the city gates to allow in traders. You can still go on the Bell Tower today and for a small fee, you can ring the bell – thousands of people will hear it! Xi’an has a wonderful mix of ancient delights and a modern cosmopolitan buzz(depending on where you are in the city), and so there is plenty to amaze and stimulate anyone coming to teach English in Xi’an.
Finally, the central location in Xi’an makes it a great place to be located if travelling around China is of interest to you. The airport has direct flights to nearly all major Chinese cities.
The Xi'an City Wall
The Xi’an City Wall is the largest city wall on earth and the present wall as it is dates from the 1600’s. It is 15m wide at the base and about 13m wide at the top. The total length of the wall is over 13kmand it will take you about 4-5 hours to wander around the whole length. Should you not want to walk the whole length, there are a number of places to get on/off early. You can also rent bicycles and tandem bikes for around 80RMB for 90 minutes. At the night, the wall is lit up with lights and you can stroll through scenic parks around the wall and get snack foods. Each year, there is a mini-marathon around the wall which you can join. From the top of the wall, you can get a birds-eye view of quaint and hidden back streets teeming with everyday common Chinese life.
Beilin Art Street Xi'an
Just inside the south gate of the city wall, there is an art and culture district full of old folks doing Chinese calligraphy and all kinds of painting shops, jade stores and wood carving places. There are alsosome great bars in this district to be discovered.
The Muslim Quarter and Great Mosque, Xi'an
Running off from The Bell Tower are four major streets running like the points of a compass; North Street, East Street, South Street and West Street. In the quarter between West Street and North Street is the Muslim Quarter. This is where the large Chinese Muslim population of Xi’an lives and works.
You could spend weeks here and still be finding quaint back streets, places to eat and places to explore. There are markets here to buy all of your touristy things to send back home and remember to take your camera, as you’ll get great photos to keep and share for a lifetime. In the centre of the Muslim Quarter is the great old mosque which was built centuries ago for the Muslim population that came through as traders and inhabitants from the Silk Road.
The Terracotta Warriors Xi'an China
About 20km away from Xi’an (there are frequent buses) is the world famous Terracotta Warriors. The Terracotta Warriors were built on the command of the great Emperor Qin Shihuang, who wanted to have an army of soldiers for the afterlife.
The Terracotta Warriors comprise of thousands of soldiers, generals, archers, horses, chariots and weapons. There are three separate pits to see and a museum to learn more about the history of the soldiers. A 3D cinema brings to story of The Terracotta Warriors to life. The faces of the warriors are all unique and different. If you are an English teacher in Xi’an, then you must make visiting here a priority.
De Fu Xiang (Bar Street), Xi'an
De Fu Xiang is a narrow street within the city walls about a ten minute walk from The Bell Tower. Twenty years ago, this street had a different nature altogether – it was the Red Light District of Xi’an!
Today, De Fu Xiang is a really rocking place, with bars on each side of the road, side by side from top to bottom. If you are looking for a brilliant night out after a busy weekend of teaching, hit De Fu Xiang for a brilliant night out, with quiet bars, loud bars, coffee shops, niche corners or live music. It has it all.
Just around the corner, is South Street with an assortment of top quality night clubs if you want to keep going until the early hours.
Huashan Mountain
A few hours away from Xi’an is Huashan Mountain. In China, there are five ‘holy’ mountains, and each one is meant to represent the body, arms and legs of Pangu, a giant God-like creature from the old Chinese creation story. Huashan is one of these five mountains.
Carved into the granite mountain are literally thousands of steps which one climbs to reach the summit of the mountain, which is over 2,400m above sea-level. The climb is very arduous (and it takes nerves of steel!) and for those that can’t make it, then a cable car to take you most of the way is available. Top tip: Stay on the mountain overnight and wake up early to watch sunrise from the top of the highest West Peak.
The Big Goose Pagoda, Xi'an
Ever heard of ‘Journey to the West’ or seen ‘Monkey’? This is the story of a monk who travels to India, finds Buddhism, and then returns to China with the holy scriptures and then Buddhism becomes the dominant force in China, influencing the life and development of the Chinese people and the China story. Well, this event actually happened, and where did the monk leave from and return to? Xi’an. The Big Goose Pagoda is one of the most important religious buildings in all of China and for many years the actual scriptures which came back from India were housed here. You can still go into the temple and the parks and water parks surrounding are an absolute joy to visit.
The Small Goose Pagoda, Xi'an
Less well-known as the Wild Big Goose Pagoda is the Wild Small Goose Pagoda, also situated in Xi’an. This pagoda is 13 storeys high, but the upper most were destroyed in an earthquake centuries ago. You can also go up inside this pagoda, and the final few levels are quite fun and tricky to access. This is my favourite of the Xi’an pagodas.
The Qinling Mountains
They say that China is divided into two halves; the north and the south, and the Qinling Mountains are the border, running across nearly a thousand kilometres of China. This is a stunning mountain range is a 30 minute bus ride to the south of Xi’an and there are numerous National Parks, Panda Reserves, camping spots and areas of stunning beauty. Catch a bus, ride a motorbike, or feeling like a challenge, ride a bicycle out there!
The Tang Paradise, Xi'an
During the Tang Dynasty, Xi’an was unquestionably one of the most powerful cities in the worldand was at its peak of cultural grandeur. One of the original play areas for the Emperor and his concubines was a park and lake area strictly forbidden to be entered by commoners by pain of death. This was a private retreat for the most powerful man on earth and selected friends and lovers. Today, Xi’an has recreated the park to its former glory and it is now open to all. Tickets are around 60RMB to go in and you needn’t worry about losing your head!
Eating and Drinking Out in Xi'an
Xi’an is a very large city with numerous choices of many different styles of Chinese foods and also countless western options. Xi’an is famous for its street foods, and you’ll always be able to get good Chinese food at 3am or 4am!
There are also countless places to get a drink in the evening/night time. Xi'an is awesome at night!!
Xianease Magazine
Xi’an has a thriving expat community with lots of special events going on nearly every day of the week, every month of the year. The city has an ex-pat magazine named Xianease with events, restaurant guides, pub and club guides, reviews, cinema listings, pub crawl events, running clubs, quiz nights, movie nights, trips away, etc. You can check out the Xianease magazine here.
Teaching English in Xi’an
If Xi’an sounds pretty cool, then why don’t you apply for one of our Xi’an teaching jobs? Teaching English in Xi'an will afford you to actually live in this wonderful city on an excellent salary!

by Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen has been an English teacher since 2002 and has taught Chinese, French, Italian, Austrian, Korean and Spanish students, both in the UK and China. He runs two successful TEFL blogs in China and is a well-known voice in the China TEFL industry. Stuart is the founder and owner of www.rayenglish.com
Published in Articles about China
Welcome to the download page of our award-winning Guide to Teaching in China! To download our free Guide to Teaching in China PDF, please scroll down to the bottom and click the download link.

The Guide to Teaching in China has everything you need to know when first coming to teach English in China. How you might get culture shock, the type of Chinese food available, getting around and exploring your new city in China, how much things cost in China, learning the language, what kind of English schools you can find in China, getting a Chinese working visa, and loads more!

The www.rayenglish.com Guide to Teaching in China is your indispensible guide to living and teaching in China and is free to download as a PDF.

Just find the download link at the bottom of this page to download the Guide to Teaching in China.
Published in Articles about China
Monday, 11 January 2016 21:05

Traveller's Syndrome: Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse Culture Shock

Traveller's Syndrome: Reverse Culture Shock.

Ask any traveller what the worst part of travelling is and many, if not most of them will tell you: “coming home.” After all the adventures, excitement and new horizons, the thought of returning to a normal everyday life, can be pretty uninspiring.

Sure, you've missed your friends, family and pets, but going back to normality can be in itself a type of culture shock.

What is Reverse Culture Shock?

First, I don't actually agree with the official name given to this condition, because I believe there is much more to it than simply a Culture Shock in your native country, I myself call it Traveller's Syndrome, because I think it's much more universal and the condition only really applies to travellers.

Reverse Culture Shock applies to anyone who has lived or travelled in one or more different countries for an extended period of time. It typically applies where people have been in a country which has vastly different culture and speaks a different native language, additionally the more time you've spent in the country and grown accustomed to it's culture, the worse the feeling will be.
It is quite simply the shock of returning to normality, whatever that may be.

Reverse Culture Shock - a serious condition

Reverse Culture Shock has many symptoms; boredom, reverse homesickness, loneliness, disorientation, depression, helplessness, a yearning for more travel or simply the want to be anywhere but where you are and an increased irritation with your own country and culture.

Reverse Culture Shock can be a very serious condition, with many travellers seriously struggling to reacclimatise to their native surroundings, in some cases the effects can be irreversible.

I myself have seriously struggled with it in the past. Upon returning from Eastern Europe, I came back to my family and friends and expected them to want to hear all about my tales and experiences. My family listened to them, but were never really interested and my friends couldn't have cared less and in some cases, were very jealous of what I had done. This made me feel extremely isolated and alienated. The feeling became worse, as the novelty of being back home wore off. I tried to settle back into my Masters course, but I began to feel extremely bored and lethargic.

On one extremely bad day, while I struggled to complete some part of my thesis, I realised I had spent about an hour not reading a book as I had intended, but actually reminiscing about my time in Eastern Europe and subconsciously planning my next trip. However, my next trip would not be for at least another two years. It was exactly at this point that I marched to my supervisor and told him I quit, signed the papers and left. I had realised the rather painful truth, that I was homesick at home.

Missing the Mundane Things

From the research I have done on this matter, using internet blogs, talking to travellers and also my own experiences, I have come to a slight conclusion. It's not actually the big things that travellers really miss while they are stuck back at home, but actually the more mundane times of life, which while they are being completed in a different country are more exciting and exotic.

I quite like the example of public transport in Indonesia. Indonesian Public Transport is an experience in itself, crowded angkots and the death traps that are bajais, combined with a completely unmaintained road network make almost all journeys, no matter how great or small extremely interesting and never dull. Imagine being used to such trips everyday and returning to the pristine roads and relatively non-crowded buses and trains of the UK. All of a sudden a typically exciting and invigorating event has become dull and boring, it can be a hard pill to swallow.

Getting Used to the 'Norm'

Of course, the condition doesn't just materialize in emotions or boredom, in some instances it can be a serious struggle of adaptation. After constantly living in a country which drives on the different side of the road to your native land, returning to the “norm” can take time and means careful consideration must taken every time you cross the road. To add to this, coming back to a more technologically advanced country can bring in itself new challenges, as you attempt to get used to things which have changed since you were gone and all the new gadgets, which are “supposed” to make your life easier.

Coping with Reverse Culture Shock

The question is of course, how do you cure or cope with Reverse Culture Shock? Well, I'm afraid I can't really answer that.

During the time between the ending of my Masters course and the flight to Jakarta (six months), I still had to deal with the effects of RCS. One thing which I felt really helped me during this time, was attempting to make friends who were of the same nature as myself. There are numerous hospitality websites out there, which bring travellers to your doorstep and vice versa, utilizing these websites allowed me to talk about my experiences, make new friends and get some new ideas. These hospitality websites really can be like travelling without leaving home.

Travel is the Cure

Hospitality websites may help put off or reduce the feelings gained by reverse culture shock, but it will never make it go away. There is only one real cure for it, which is to travel.

Like most travellers a few months after returning home,  I have often found myself stuck between the insatiable urge to travel and the lack of money to do so. I truly thank my lucky stars for stumbling upon TEFL, because I found a way to work and live in a foreign country. It has opened so many countries to me, which I may never have been able to visit due to a lack of money.

Take the TEFL Route

If you have a love of travel, new countries and cultures, I truly believe that TEFL is the best way to solve the age old problem of travel vs money. I can't promise you'll ever be able to fully readjust to your native country, but you'll certainly find a way of putting the issue off to a later date.
By Peter Whitfield

Peter is a born traveller having spent time in Brazil, Latvia, Germany, Spain and Zambia. He hiked 800km through the Pyrenees (carrying all of his own supplies) and conducted scientific research in Brazilian rainforests. He is currently teaching English in Indonesia. Peter welcomes connecting with all new people and you can check out his profile and get in touch with him here or on Twitter - @PeterWhitfield2.
Published in Articles about China

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