Why we’re leaving China…

I’m feeling sad today. I took bubs out for a walk this morning to run some errands. And I was walking to the market, I ran into so many grandmas who wanted to say hello to bubs and exclaim over her. Then, a lovely lady started chatting to me, and we walked and talked for at least 5 minutes. No agenda – just a general chat about life. We parted ways as I headed downstairs to hunt for some buttons and she wandered off in search of cheap vegies. Why is this sad? Because a thought kept sneaking back into my mind… we shouldn’t be outside… the pollution is too high today… I should be walking faster so we’re back inside sooner.


So yes, it’s sad. We’re sad. Super sad. It’s been a really hard decision. The hardest we’ve ever made. It’s weird. It should have been harder to leave Australia and move over here in the first place, but it’s not. It’s much harder to leave. We’ve created our adult lives here. We have a home and careers. But it’s time.

This year has been tough. We’ve put up with three months of intense pollution. Intense. We didn’t really have a break. In the past six years that we’ve lived here, winter has always been beautiful. Blue skies and winter sunshine has always dominated, despite the cold temperatures. But this year was different.

When we think back to our childhoods, we both played outside, in the backyard, on the beach and in the playground. If we stay, I fear Adella will be stuck inside an apartment too much. She loves going outside so much and I’m tired of that being dictated by the pollution report.

I also don’t feel like we’re living the same adventurous lifestyle that we were before. Yes, we have a kid now, but we no longer eat street food and we search high and low for organic, clean food. And I feel that more and more we are living a western lifestyle in China, rather than embracing the wonderful culture that surrounds us.

Speaking of surroundings, we’re going to miss our Beijing family so much. We’ve built such a wonderful, supportive community here. We’ve had some amazing adventures and we have been so lucky to have ayi for Adella’s first year, which has allowed us to go back to work knowing that she was being looked after so well.

How are we dealing with it? I’ve been busying myself with a lot of sewing, studying for the HSK and in the evenings, we’ve been working our way through 7 seasons of American Dad. Living slightly in denial…

I know that once we arrive back in Australia and are surrounded by family and friends, we will feel different. We get to enjoy the sunshine, go to the beach, eat amazing food and start a new adventure. It will be fantastic. I know that.

But today, I’m sad.20130328_075839

Because sometimes it looks like this…

…but other times it looks like this.

(Same bridge, two different directions, obviously two different days).


6 thoughts on “Why we’re leaving China…

  1. Six years is a long time. Sounded like you built a lovely home in a supportive community. Moving would be hard, trust your maternal-instinct. Good luck with the move and on your new adventure!

  2. cvheerden says:

    I find that coming back is always harder than leaving. 8 years in Africa now, and every time I come “home” (?) to Germany it feels harder than before. Like i am more the outsider there, because I have seen different things, adapt to different standards, been judged by different standards etc etc … Your point of giving your child the experience of freedom is a very very valid one. South Africa doesn’t have the pollution, it’s the crime that keeps our kids from going out as they wish. For that reason I would also go back and work in Germany for a bit …

  3. PJ Hayes says:

    First I’d heard of this news! I wonder what your time frame for leaving is? Shamefully, a selfish side of me feels glad we visited you when we did- but of course, the pollution we saw was a novelty and nothing like what you must be enduring on a sustained basis, and with a child, everything changes. Really understand your conflicting feelings. Home is ultimately a subjective, fluid concept which you take with you as you travel or construct from where you happen to be- which can sound easier than it is to accomplish. Don’t forget too that you are taking a lot of your China experience with you. I’ve been doing study this year on loss- its inevitability, prevalence and layered nature. It is helpful- for me anyway- to be mindful of the choices that are in your hands amidst what can feel like a situation of powerlessness- eg you can’t change pollution but you can(and have) decided to move to a better environment. Anyway, I wish you all well as you work through such matters.

    • Yes, the power of choice is such a strong one for us right now. However, I feel quite distraught that we have the privilege of this choice. We CAN pack up and leave, unlike the millions of people we leave who must suffer on. But we must also be incredibly grateful for this privilege and make the most of it. Look forward to seeing you guys soon!

      (Sorry the news took so long to filter through… I guess we rely on social media so much these days to spread the word.)

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