The Homesick-o-Meter

Published 2007-03-26

Think you might be homesick? Unfortunately, expatriate life in China means living with constant homesickness, so gauging the severity of this emotion is essential to regulating your well-being. We have devised the following test to help in this regard. Please circle one statement that best represents what you miss from ‘back home.’

  1. “I don’t miss anything at all. Everything about China and our lives here is an improvement over Oregon”
  2. “I miss items specific to our particular lives ‘back home’: my Vanilla bicycle, our Subaru Impreza, my friends and family, etc.”
  3. “I miss aspects unique to my hometown and state: Stumptown coffee, Powell’s Books, long empty beaches, spruce trees, etc.”
  4. “I miss generalized features of life and culture in my home country, such as American landscapes, American shopping malls, and pale American faces.”
  5. “I miss exposure to any non-Chinese place or cultural artifact. For example: Croatian wine, Hungarian architecture, Singapore.”
  6. “I miss the year I lived in Los Angeles.”


The number you circled indicates the severity of your homesickness:

  1. You are not homesick at all. You have probably been replaced by some kind of replicant or alien pod creature.
  2. You have acute homesickness. The application of appropriate local substitutes such as Qingdao beer and Szichuan food may temporarily relieve your unhappiness.
  3. You have chronic homesickness. Local substitutes may not prove effective. We recommend locking yourself in your apartment all weekend and watching giant-robot cartoons from your childhood.
  4. You have terminal homesickness. A vacation away from China may provide a temporary improvement in your condition.
  5. You have reverse homesickness. There is no cure for this condition other than total removal from the Chinese environment. Even remaining locked in your apartment will prove futile as you’ll realize your appliances and furnishings are all constructed in that particular half-ass way where they appear to be of a fine quality but said “quality” was applied post-manufacture, like some kind of electro-plating, and that only Chinese people would be perverse enough to make things like this.
  6. Be afraid. Be very afraid.