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Suffering From Burnout

Suffering From Burnout

Asia, China

This past semester has been one of my most exhausting semesters of my life. It’s definitely had its highs and lows. And unlike my first venture around the world where everything was exciting and new, my time living in China hasn’t been easy and always fun.


I’ll start off by saying that unlike a lot of people, I love change. I thrive on change. Transitioning from high school to a world traveler was the best time of my life. And then coming back home and taking on the role of college student was also super fun and rewarding. I had no reason to think that coming to Taiwan and China would be any different than before. I expected to see and do a lot of cool things, make a ton of new friends, and have some internal transformation that would help to develop me as a person.


These things have happened (well, who knows about the great transformation). Two months working with the Siraya people in Taiwan taught me a ton: about problems indigenous people face, implementation issues, globalization, and Taiwan itself. Similarly in China I’ve done some pretty cool things, including going to Tibet. And I’ve definitely met some great people. However, for the first time traveling, I’ve also suffered a lot more loneliness than usual.


A big part of this is cultural differences. I love traveling alone. However, traveling alone in China doesn’t always translate into new friends to travel with-especially as the Chinese have different travel styles. Making Chinese friends who share very different values and concerns also isn’t the same as making friends with people who can relate to you. I’ve found that I need other Westerners around, at least sometimes, who can understand my culture too.

These aren't Oreos...
These aren’t Oreos…

Being an obvious foreigner has also taken its toll as standing out means I suffer from pointing and stares. Something that doesn’t bother me but does make me feel strikingly out of place.

Travelings not always so glamorous
Travelings not always so glamorous

Then there’s the fact that I miss Texas. The more I travel, the more I realize what a truly remarkable and special place the Lone Star State is. Texas is beautiful. Wide open spaces couldn’t describe it better (thanks Dixie Chicks). I miss good ole Tex-Mex. Whataburger. Shiner. I miss country music (something high school Phyllis would cringe at) and other people who actually like country music. Josh Abbott Band anyone? But most of all, I miss Texans. Everyone at home is so friendly and polite and laidback. Definitely not characteristics the Chinese are known for.

Beautiful West Texas
Beautiful West Texas

Then there’s my program. I absolutely love the Alliance program. And my teacher is awesome. However, Chinese class at 9am everyday for three hours is starting to take its toll. It’s not that the language is hard. It’s that I don’t feel like I’m learning anything new. And studying a language can be a bit boring as your routine is always the same (learn more vocab, study more grammar).

Needless to say, I’m going through a period of suffering from burnout. While I’m really sad that my current program is ending and that I have to say goodbye to a lot of fantastic people, I’m also really excited to get a break. Not just from Chinese classes, but from China itself. I think a bit of an adventure and a break from my routine in China is just what I need right about now.


On a totally unrelated note, probably totally late on the new Taylor Swift album 1989 but…so good!




What are your methods for dealing with burnout? Am I crazy for needing a break from China after only a few months?

About the author

Vegetarian foodie and tree hugger over here. I've got all the blog tips on traveling sustainably. So follow along for epic hikes, savory food, and all around ethical travel.


  1. Richelle @Adventures Around Asia
    December 8, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I felt the same way around this time when I studied with the Alliance in Beijing. I had an internship on top of 3 hours of Chinese a day, plus we had to meet with our language partners 3X a week because we didn’t have Chinese roommates. One day I completely crashed during a language partner meeting and had to go home. I was so exhausted I felt nauseous! After that we rearranged our language partner meetings so that we didn’t meet on days I had my internship, and things got a lot better. With such little time left in the semester, try focusing on all the things you love about China. Trust me, you’ll miss it when you go home!

      December 8, 2014 at 10:25 am

      Yeah I never anticipated language being so exhausting! Thanks for the advice-definitely trying to keep up a positive attitude for the next few weeks

  2. YoMomma
    December 8, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    End of semester burnout is a universal
    the next part, while still needing to finish up what you have been working on for FOREVER! It may happen again during your senior year, especially right before Spring Break. Sorry I can’t send you a care package, altho I guess I sort of did (thanks to gpa). Miss you lots, love you more XOXOXOXXOXOOO

      December 9, 2014 at 6:05 am

      Good point! And thanks for the medicine xxx

  3. MamaHarris
    December 16, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Glad I made my debut in this article! Miss ya tons. You’ll find some change again soon!

      December 16, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Your debut is just a preview of what is to come I can tell. Miss ya too. <3

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