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Finding Your Balance: How to Manage Life in Two Countries

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Time is a magnificent creature.  It is one of the rare constants in our world, and yet is itself a vessel for so much change.  Friends get married, babies are born, people pass away, another birthday comes and goes, and holidays are celebrated with all your family and friends at home.  But you aren’t at home.  You are halfway around the world, experiencing and celebrating much of these same things, but with new friends, and maybe a significant other, that you’ve met along this crazy journey called life.

There is a phrase thrown around a lot which I quite like actually, that tells us to “live in the moment”, yet what happens when there are too many moments, when living in one moment, means missing out on another?  When your dream of traveling the world, or living abroad, splits your life in two?

You become a person of two worlds, two cultures, two different families.  This is the life of an expat.  My expat community is wonderful.  I’ve met some of the most kind-hearted, funny, crazy awesome people in the past year and a half from all different countries, cultures, and lifestyles, and we’ve all converged in the most unlikely of places: China.  We’ve bonded over shared interests, personalities, and just the shear craziness of life in this insane country.

In a land where you are not only referred to, but actually feel like, a foreigner, a good group of expat friends is an amazing thing, but it’s not everything.  Because while you have branched out, gone to new and exciting places, made new friends, and learned a new language and culture, your roots are still planted back home.

Bridging the gap between your home life and your life abroad is no easy task.

At some point during your expat journey you realize that both of these two distinctly different, and in my case completely opposite, worlds, have become normal.  But yet, we still cannot be in two places at once, as much as we would sometimes like to be.  Unforeseen situations arise that pull our attention out of one moment and into another and we rely on our friends and family around the world to be there when the distance simply doesn’t allow for our presence.

As amazing and exciting as this experience is, it means a lot of hard work (and long hours at work), and sacrifices in important areas of your life.  It’s not all travel selfies, coffee dates, and dinner parties (although the moments when it is are pretty freakin awesome!) but if done right you will end up fostering relationships across the globe.  Family and friends will come visit you, and you will go back home to see them, all the while picking up right where you left off, flowing gently from your new life to your old and back again.

Living in a foreign country changes you in ways you could never imagine.  It opens you up to different ways of thinking and living that, while they may seem crazy to us, they work, sometimes really well in fact.  During our time abroad we make new memories, gain new experiences, knowledge, and skills that allow us to evolve in ways we previously had never thought possible, but throughout this journey our old life is still a part of us every step of the way.

What is a breathtaking view, a new accomplishment, or an amazing experience anyway, without someone to share it with?  This is, in fact, part of the purpose of this blog, to share with family, friends, and hopefully even some strangers, our unique experiences living in a foreign country and traveling the world.  To link near and far, strangers, and friends, and stay connected to all those we care about around the world.

“So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.” – Dr. Seuss

How can you stay in touch with family and friends back home from China?

  1. Download Skype and video chat with anyone from home via the internet.  The service is free and works without a VPN.
  2. Download Wechat, and have you friends and family back home download it as well.  Wechat is a free Chinese texting service that works via the internet.  Text your family and friends anywhere in the world using wifi or data.
  3. Lastly, install a VPN to get access to social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter which would otherwise be blocked in China.


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