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Author Topic: Do you suffer from expatitis?  (Read 9684 times)

richardsaintcyr

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Do you suffer from expatitis?
« on: March 12, 2010, 08:08:52 AM »
Hi everyone, it's me again, that Beijing doc who drops by every few weeks...to let you know about relevant posts on my expat medical blog that y'all may be interested in. Please don't flame me again! No one's being forced to click on it. Anyway, I started a series of posts regarding the very relevant expat topics of mental health, alcoholism, stress, smoking/drinking -- all the fun stuff. To make it more fun to read, I called it "expatitis syndrome". Here's the definition:

Expatitis (Expat from expatriā “to leave native land” +itis “inflammation, abnormal states, excesses, tendencies, etc”) – a syndrome of multiple physical and mental illnesses brought on by maladaptive coping mechanisms to the stressors inherent to living abroad.

I've been getting a lot of good feedback from expats all over China and I wanted to share with you as well, as I think that expats often don't take seriously enough the lifestyle stressors here. If you want to read more, here's the link:
http://www.myhealthbeijing.com/wellness/expatitis-syndrome-are-you-infected/
Richard Saint Cyr MD
MyHealthBeijing.com

George

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2010, 08:49:04 AM »
Very interesting, Doc. I have been an "expat" in three different countries, and the drinking "problem" is the same in all of them. The stress factor is different, because the other two countries were not China..we had plenty of sports outlets to keep us relatively fit and sane, unlike China.
The higher they fly, the fewer!    http://neilson.aminus3.com/

richardsaintcyr

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2010, 09:23:31 AM »
I'm curious, since you're a seasoned expat in 3 countries; is it worse here in China? Do people cope less well in China? I think the business climate is a huge factor, everyone is here in China like it's a gold rush -- and you get the same Wild West anything-goes mentality. Plus, people are working their arses off, always thinking to rake in the $$ for a few years in China and then take off. In other words, putting off good health decisions short-term, for a long-term $$ goal...
Richard Saint Cyr MD
MyHealthBeijing.com

kitano

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2010, 09:48:30 AM »
it's hard to judge how much of it is related to being abroad

all of the stress related illnesses you list as symptoms are also steeply on the rise in western countries

i would say that it is in the eye of the beholder to a large degree. personally i've found it easier to have a stress free life here than i did back home due to having a feeling of employment and financial sercurity i never got in england

i'm a teacher not a businessman tho....

George

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2010, 09:53:53 AM »
My experiences mostly revolve around teachers, and expat teachers are pretty much the same wherever you go. Those involved in business are horses of a different colour, or a different kettle of fish...take your pick! ahahahahah In China, I think you are right about the mad money making scramble. Make as much as possible, as quickly, and cheaply as possible, then get the hell outta Dodge. They live in Hotels or gated communities, mix as little as possible with the locals, and don't learn anything about China. It's all about making money.
The higher they fly, the fewer!    http://neilson.aminus3.com/

dragonsaver

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2010, 10:00:33 AM »
I suffer from less stress here than back in Canada.  I was an Engineer in Canada and man is that stressful.  I am much less subject to anger and frustration here.  It still exists but to a significantly lower degree.  I don't smoke and rarely drink. 

I do work excessively though, trying to get out of debt so that I can retire before I reach 90 (I am 66).

There aren't the easily accessible swimming pools or gyms here that we have back home.  I wouldn't use a pool here.  There are gyms but not close enough for me.  However, I do a ton more walking here than I did back in Canada.
Be kind to dragons for thou are crunchy when roasted and taste good with brie.

richardsaintcyr

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2010, 10:06:31 AM »
I'll be honest, partly me staying in China is also making money (more than I'd make back at home with this recession). But most of us are also here because China is just a supercool country to be in right now, and we all feel that it's a historic moment and we want to be part of the excitement and change. I think it's invigorating to be here. But I'm also lucky to be grounded by a Beijing-born wife and lots of local family. It keeps it real for me; expats with no family here, just new expat friends, must find it harder to stay balanced...
Richard Saint Cyr MD
MyHealthBeijing.com

Borkya

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2010, 10:26:16 AM »
personally i've found it easier to have a stress free life here than i did back home due to having a feeling of employment and financial sercurity i never got in england

I would absolutely agree. I feel such a sense of relaxation living in China but I am a teacher not a businessman as well, so maybe it does't count in your theory. Honestly, just the stress of not having to pay rent, or work a job I hate, or even do simple things like shopping at a giant supermarket once a week is so freeing. Before I left America I was pretty worn down physically and emotionally and I've felt so much better since coming here.

I even started eating a lot of junk food that I never ate back home yet I lost about 10 pounds. (I could lose a lot more if I stopped buying oreos!)

Also, by the time our first year is up my husband and I will have saved more money working 16 hours a week then we did after a year of working 80+ hours a week in america. That sense of financial relief also contributes to my inner peacefulness.

 

James the Brit

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2010, 11:05:45 AM »
I'll be honest, partly me staying in China is also making money (more than I'd make back at home with this recession).
 llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll aoaoaoaoao

*edited by Nolefan*
« Last Edit: March 12, 2010, 12:21:06 PM by Nolefan »

Fozzwaldus

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2010, 11:22:30 AM »
@jamesthebrit: unfair and rude. out of order. who doesn't work for money? medicine is a career like any else.

***

Otherwise, I've found the stresses in China don't arise from work, but from isolation. Being stared at and talked about for 4 years wasn't good for my mental health and it really stressed me out.
I drank more than I should have (easy in a boozy expat community) and put on lots of weight. My lifestyle and weight have only now normalized after two years at home. I'm determined to learn from my experience when I return this year. Self-control, exercise and a "serenity now!" approach to keeping cool when China gives ye lemons are the order of the day. Wish me luck!
两只老外, 两只老外,跑得快,跑得快,
一个是老酒鬼,一个是老色鬼,真奇怪, 真奇怪

AMonk

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2010, 11:33:13 AM »
James, doctors need to make a living, too.  And we (all) know that the economy on both sides of the Atlantic is baaaaad right now. ananananan

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a National health servce system and/or health insurance.  A doctor (especialy one in General Practice) could easily lose money if s/he sees less patients.  People will often put off the "luxury" of regular visits to their physician - or dentist - when ca$h gets tight; they will only go in emergencies, or when they are extremely ill and in pain.  Then they don't pay their doctor's blls in a timely fashion kkkkkkkkkk  

Besides, Richard said that money is only part of his reason for staying in PRC.  Another (maybe the biggest?) part is his Chinese akakakakak wife.

« Last Edit: March 12, 2010, 11:40:20 AM by AMonk »
Moderation....in most things...

George

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2010, 11:40:28 AM »
Not nice, James. We all need money, we just have different ways to get it.
The higher they fly, the fewer!    http://neilson.aminus3.com/

harry_aus

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2010, 12:59:15 PM »
Last year in Jiangsu I spent the first few months
mixing only with expats - and I drank a great deal.
Then I found a wonderful Chinese lady, and spent my non-teaching time
with her, the family, and the locals. Curtailed my drinking considerably.
But then, the FTs I worked with, accused me of "going native" !
(they used those exact words)
They jeeringly reckoned I'd become aloof and unsociable.
I couldn't find a 'middle ground' there anywhere......I wonder if
there is such a place?
Have since read that the weird feeling that gave me was
called 'identity loss' - a similar cousin to homesickness.(according
to those learned-folks in the m.kingdom life booklet   mmmmmmmmmm)


BTW, Australia right now has a health crisis - the Prime Minister
yesterday announced the urgent need to find doctors and nursing staff...
so if you want to be a registrar in a public hospital, Richard, come on down!  We also desperately need more
private practitioners, too. Only yesterday my GP told me that he is working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. Please come and give the poor man a hand - I mean, he barely has time to sip on a Moet these days!!
« Last Edit: March 12, 2010, 01:35:24 PM by harry_aus »

James the Brit

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2010, 02:33:29 PM »
You don't become a doctor to make money. I'm sorry. You may say, that doctors money to feed their family. Yeah, I completely agree.

However, their wages should not be determined by how many examinations/X-rays/consultations/prescriptions they give to their patients. I have been to the "private international health care centres" in Beijing and Singapore, and on numerous occasions, I felt like I was ripped off. 600 RMB to see a doctor for 10 minutes? Come on. Every doctor in the UK and France (can't speak for other contries) has to take the Hyppocratic Oath. I wish to quote a few passages from the aformentioned oath:

"I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability."

"I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required,"

And finally, "that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug." Now, I would like to ask the doctor, if he would turn a patient down were they unable to pay the "fees"?

PS: I apologize for what I wrote this morning. However, I remain and will remain unapologetic for my opinions on health care and how the private healthcare industry. I find it quite shocking that a lot of people on this forum say "doctors, need their money in these hard times". What about the people in the American rust belt who not only have lost their jobs but can't afford their kids heathcare , if they fall ill. That doesnt matter, as long as the doctors USD 150 000 p.a. salary is still intact.  llllllllll llllllllll asasasasas asasasasas
 


HEALTHCARE IS A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE.

pps: I rarely say this but I'm proud to be British.  bnbnbnbnbn

Lotus Eater

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Re: Do you suffer from expatitis?
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2010, 03:09:01 PM »
I'm with a number of other voices here.  In the 6 years I've been here, my stress levels have almost totally disappeared.  I teach, do some part-time work for a Chinese company (management and PR, not teaching), do some freelance writing, and top up the coffers whenever I can with some editing.  I'm as busy as I was in Oz, but without the 20-60 minute commute each way depending on traffic, without the serious pressure.  Here, if I want to cut back, I can.  I certainly made a hell of a lot more money in Oz, but my sanity is worth every cent I dropped in wages  And given the cost of living here, I can afford more massages and hole-in-the-wall meals than I ever could in Oz.  And no matter how busy I get with teaching, coaching etc, 4 months holiday a year makes it great.

I am a member of a gym, with a swimming pool, but am generally too slack busy to get there as often as I like.  But I have plenty of other leisure activities  that have me out and mixing with a wide range of people.  I don't smoke and although I'm good at enjoying a few drinks, I don't drink as much as I did in Oz, and it's usually beer rather than the sambucca, vodka cruisers, champagne and red I drank weekly before.  Most of my friends are Chinese and for me this makes it easy to stay pretty sober (until the baijiu dinners!!).  

I don't feel isolated, in fact, carving out the space I need for me is more my concern.  

I also feel that it was easier for me to adapt to being here because I didn't have to worry about anyone else.  I don't have a partner or children that I need to be concerned about, how they are liking it, how they fit in.  All I had to do was think about what I wanted out of this.  I moved from a university with 50+ FTs to where (when I arrived) there was only one other - the Japanese teacher.  This allowed me to find more Chinese friends, become more involved in the community I live in rather than the expat community.

I think I'm extraordinarily lucky to be here at this time, because of the changes occurring.  I also feel that the longer I've stayed here, the more interesting opportunities have come my way, and most of them have been through the Chinese friends I've made.

It's been a pretty magic learning curve, and I'm as grateful as possible for it.