Parting is such sweet sorrow: advice on leaving home

Zhang Ciyun
Friends and some savings soften the blow of going out into the world.
Zhang Ciyun

Quite often, people, especially the young, would leave home to study or make a living elsewhere in the country or even abroad. In the Chinese language, there are two common sayings offering advice on such departures.

One says zaijia kaofumu, chumen kaopengyou, which means “at home, you can rely on your parents; away from home, you count on your friends.” It emphasizes that it’s very important for one to have friends, particularly when he or she is away from home.


zài jiā kào fù mǔ, chū mén kào péng you

Lu Xun, a renowned Chinese writer of the last century, quoted this saying in one of his stories.

The tale describes two ordinary street magicians who, at the end of their performance, bowed to spectators and shouted the common saying: “At home you count on your parents; away from home, one has to rely on friends.” It’s a covert way of begging anyone who had seen through their poor tricks not to disclose them to others.

Another proverb is qiongjia fulu, which translates literally as “poor family, rich road,” meaning one should practice thrift at home but should be amply prepared for traveling expenses.


qióng jiā fù lù

This is because, when traveling, one may confront unexpected problems, needs or even emergencies. In that event, ample provision may help bail one out.

So, next time when you prepare to leave home for some time, please remember the advice provided by these two Chinese proverbs.

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