Last year Tina Liwen Jiang came to us as an intern from the University of Oulu in Finland. She originally comes from Shanghai, China, and studies Third Culture Kids. Although Tina was with us for only a few short months, we still miss her, and were recently delighted to receive this wonderful account of what she has learned on her expat journey.
2nd July, 2016
I am not afraid of…
It is raining cats and dogs now in Shanghai; I am sitting in front of my computer and trying to write something about my experiences for the past two years. I have been back for a while but I feel like I don’t want to think about the past, maybe I still don’t want to admit that it’s done – I got my degree certificate. It’s just over! But the life in Europe was just like yesterday. I had lots of ups and downs, lots of laughs and tears; I met lots of people, some stay in my life and some left. I got a lot of support from family and friends when I was sick and depressed, without them, I can’t be able to finish my master’s thesis. I have learned so much during the past two years; the experiences made me stronger. I would say…
I am not afraid of giving up and starting over. I stayed in three countries due to studies and internship. Moving from one country to another is not easy, and I moved frequently. Friends told me that they want to see different places as well and I am very lucky to have the opportunities. Well, I appreciate that I have the chance to do so but to be honest, I hate packing and moving! Using the word ‘hate’ shows pretty strong emotions, but it is true. I packed everything into boxes; they were not just boxes because they were full of memories and emotions. I left friends behind, it broke my heart to say goodbye to people that I love; I had no choice because I had to leave. I keep the love in my heart and try my best to stay in touch. However, the moving experiences have showered me that I am not afraid of giving up and starting over. I don’t see giving up as a negative thing; it is just how life goes and I can’t be too greedy to have everything. Moving into a new country that I don’t have friends used to be scary for me. I didn’t know the culture, people, and language! It was ‘Oh, my God’ for me. But now, I don’t mind starting over. What will I lose? Nothing, I will get a lot of things instead.
I was chatting with a friend last night and I told her that I used to keep one light open all night for half year when I was living alone in Finland. I knew the place is safe and I had classmates living upstairs and downstairs but I just couldn’t turn off all the lights. I was a crying baby and the darkness creates the environment for being emotional. I am much stronger now; I think over, make decisions and stick on it. Faith is something that magical and important for me.
I have learned to appreciate little things - Smiles from strangers, little help from friends. I got loads of help from people I know and I don’t know which warm my heart. I still feel it. I also try my best to help people if I can. Love is a circle, it passes around. My family gives me unconditional love and I know that I will always have a place to go back. I am also blessed to meet so many nice people; I appreciate everything they have done for me. Maybe we are not in the same place right now, but I do remember them and I know we will meet again in the future. Somewhere. Meeting those amazing people is one of the best things.
Being back home is not easy, yes, repatriation is not easy. My city has changed so much, and I have changed so much as well. My parents need to get to know a different me and I need to help them get through that. We are having arguments from time to time, but I explain to them why I think like that and they try to understand. It is my home, but I am starting over again. There are a lot of uncertainties but I am not afraid of them anymore.