I Left China Before It Was Cool to Leave

Over the last couple weeks, my Twitter and Facebook feeds have been filled with blog posts proclaiming, “I’m leaving China.” These are mostly from long-term expats, not the English teachers who stick around for a year or two and move on.

Shenzhen Government Building
Shenzhen Government Building

Why is everyone leaving China?

Other expats have expressed a mixture of disappointment and anger at these posts. Some are upset to see friends and acquaintances leave the Middle Kingdom. And others are just angry at the seemingly self-indulgent posts that vaguely state reasons for the departure without actually providing any interesting details. There are also jokes about all the expats leaving — yes, this is apparently a trend. There’s even a parody post on how to write an “I’m leaving China” post.

Air pollution in Shenzhen, China
I saw too many days with pollution like this

I thought this would be a perfect time for me to state that I left China before it was cool to leave China.

I’m a China departure hipster

That’s right, I was the trend setter here for all those departing hipsters. I left back in 2009. I got the idea from thousands of expats who left before me, but who weren’t cool enough to blog about it (or maybe they left before every expat in China had a blog). Of course, when I left China, I didn’t write a long post about my reasoning — I also didn’t say, “So long and thanks for all the fish dumplings.” I did have a going away party that included a 14-lb. roast lamb, beer, and foot massages.

mmm...Xinjiang lamb

My favorite leaving China post is Unbrave Girl’s Dear John letter to China. Much more entertaining that than the mostly dry posts from the long-time expats with Chinese business interests.

Update: Even The New York Times picked up on this trend: Heading for the Exits in China. (Thanks to Unbrave Girl once again for this.)

4 thoughts on “I Left China Before It Was Cool to Leave”

  1. Thanks for mentioning my post, Matt. I’m glad you enjoyed it! And I had no idea I was part of a trend. I’ll be sure to leave my next country way ahead of the curve… :)

  2. I never even went to China because I knew a time would come when I needed to leave. Despite all I had gone through and all that I’d learned, I came to the conclusion to never even go at all.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top