How do we do it? That was the question I kept asking myself this time last week as I packed up what was left of my life in Shanghai. After weeks of being busy sorting things out, spending time with friends and doing some travelling, the enormity of what I was about to do by leaving China hit me. Until then I had busily changed the subject, putting a positive spin on things and evading talk of how sad things would be every time a  friend looked at me bleary-eyed. It was far easier not to think about how distressing it would be when the moment came to say goodbye. And then it hit me.


It seemed non-sensical on so many levels to be leaving a city and group of people I love so much. I felt like my head had written a cheque that my heart couldn’t cash. I felt the same way before I left England for China in 2007. I kept thinking about it. Humans surely aren’t supposed to travel such long distances and be apart from those we love. If we were it would be easier. I tried to think of how I would feel if my trip home was going to be taken away: if I were told I could never return to England, see my friends and family again and start my new job. I would have been devastated. But still, mental trickery provides little comfort when you are preparing to leave a place you’ve called home.

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