322: How Moving Back to China Made Me See Things with Different Eyes
I was born in China to Chinese parents. They sent me to an orphanage, and by a twist of destiny I was adopted by two foreign people and moved to Norway when I was 11 months old. My dad is from Norway, and my mom is from England, so I’m bilingual. A big event happened in my life at the age of four. Our family suddenly went back to live in China, because my parents started a business in Shenzhen. This change in my life had a big impact on how I viewed things in my life.
When I was living in Norway, I was the center of attention, because I looked so different from the other kids. When we moved to Shenzhen in China, I looked the same as 1,300,000,000 other people in China. I was just another girl here. I learned that how people treat you depends on how you look.
In China, when people see me they expect me to speak, write, and read Chinese. They expect me to have Chinese parents, and they expect me to know Chinese culture, and many more things related to China. I didn’t know why I didn’t fit in with the other kids from China. It made me feel like I was the odd one out.
This experience taught me that when I meet someone new I shouldn’t judge them on what they look like. I should try and socialize with them, and find out more about them.
In Norway, there’s lots of open space, there isn’t much traffic, there’s clean air, no people begging on the streets, and there aren’t that many citizens. In China I found out what “crowded” really means. Lots of traffic, polluted air, beggars begging on the streets, so many citizens everywhere. The differences I have seen has made me see how fortunate I have been to experience beautiful nature, no traffic, no crowds and no queues.
On the bright side, Shenzhen has a lot of people of different nationalities. I have a few friends and most are not from China. My friend Krystal’s from Hong Kong, another person in my school called Noya is from Israel. Momoko, a person in my class, is from Japan, and there are some kids from Korea. I learned how to socialize with people from different places, and learned about their culture. Every day I have some new experience. If I only lived in Norway, I might not have learned about how to socialize with people from other places.
In Norway, we spoke in Norwegian and English at home. Here in Shenzhen, Norwegian is useless for talking with friends! You have to learn how to speak Chinese if you ever want to get information from a Chinese person. Learning the language helped me make local friends, made me experience more exciting things, like catching marbles with chopsticks. It made me find out how important it is to understand the Chinese culture, like Chinese people are respectful to people older than themselves. That’s really nice.
In Norway most of my friends have at least one sibling. In China most of the people don’t have siblings. I now think how it’s sad that you have to grow up without a sibling, uncles, aunts, and cousins. My family is large. My grandma has 13 siblings, my mom has 3 siblings, and my dad has 2 sisters. It’s nice having a large family, as you can visit all your family members. It would be sad to have a small family, because then you wouldn’t have people to visit. What I learn from this is that I should stop fighting with my sister, and I should start to appreciate her more.
When I was little we travelled to a lot of different places. It was easy to just get on an airplane and go someplace else. After coming to China I learned that until now most Chinese people could not leave the country. Many have not ever left the town they were born in. I understand now that I’m very lucky to be able to have all this freedom while many people don’t. Travelling to other countries has made me understand that not all people are as lucky as we are.
When we go home to Norway each year, almost nothing changes. You always know where something is and how life will be. In Shenzhen there’s always at least something being built every few weeks. In Sea World there’s always something new to see on every visit. Life is filled with surprises, and you never get bored.
Experiencing moving back to China opened my eyes. It made me see things from a different perspective. It made me grow up quickly and think about things. I’m lucky to enjoy both of these worlds.