A mountain of salt

Whenever anyone moves abroad in order to build up a life, study or travel, they end up dealing with cultural differences that sometimes seem to be unbridgeable. We’re so focused on our own environment that many people lack the ability to look beyond that frame of reference and implant themselves in the culture they visit. Now, I am aware that this is a blunt statement and a little bit overgeneralising, but I base it on my own observations while I lived in China.

Anyone who moves abroad essentially experiences four distinct phases during their stay. At least, they eventually would unless they get stuck in one mindset.

  • Phase 1: The Honeymoon.
    It’s like as if you take your newly wed wife on the honeymoon, it’s amazing and everything is fantastic. You can’t get enough of each other and keep covering eachother in the presence of the other. All is good, you’re happy.
  • Phase 2: The Hangover.
    So you had an amazing wedding celebration, and you drank a little too much together on your honeymoon. You get hit by the negative effects of too much and start to get irritated by things. In a foreign culture this festers like a dislike/hate for all the odd things and can really lock a person down in a negative spiral.
  • Phase 3: Recovery.
    You’ve realised that things are doing to be different for you when you’re there, and while it still hurts, you accept that some parts of life will be like a hangover.
  • Phase 4: Accepting.
    At this point you’re so ingrained in the culture that any of the oddities that you spotted earlier has faded to nothing special. You’ve assimilated and got used to the place so much that it feels like you’re home.

The problem that I see both from students that went to China, and from reading experiences of people going elsewhere is that a majority seems stuck in that second phase. They are so disgruntled with the place that they live in, that they grab anything and everything to voice that displeasure. And that sucks, honestly. It’s really annoying to read about a country you might have an option to study in, and see very salty people bashing that country non-stop. It feels like they get stuck in the second phase, where all they see is the negative. Now I understand that it’s difficult but you don’t help it out by raging at/with every foreigner that doesn’t sit in the same phase. Reddit’s a good example. There’s plenty of useful information available but you really want to avoid the vocal minority. A vocal minority that usually comes to a country like Taiwan, China, Vietnam etc with massive expectations and then get disappointed when it’s not matching up to their ideal.

The thing that I do not understand is the following:

If you aren’t happy somewhere, what makes you stay instead of moving on?