We have survived the first month! The good news is, I think we will survive all of the ones to come too. The McClintocks are going to be just fine. We have learned a lot already, but we have much more to conquer.
What are my general impressions so far?
*China is growing and changing right before our eyes
*There is a strange balance between the new & old: There are ultra-modern buildings that are being put up left & right, but you'll still see men tearing down buildings by hand or making deliveries with a hand cart
*New and glittery is appealing to the Chinese, but it does not mean that the quality is great.
*Suzhou is definitely "China-light", if you don't want to learn Chinese you could survive here without it, but a person would miss out on so much.
*The people are fantastic and no, they don't all look alike.
*Our family has already benefited having to work together and rely on each other.
*The other expats are just phenomenal. It's like an amoeba, they just reach out, grab and pull you in, no questions asked. Everyone is in the same boat (without extended family, close friends, comforts of the home country) and it's not uncommon to exchange numbers after talking with someone for five minutes (I did it yesterday when I was looking at a preschool for EBean). It's okay to go right up to someone and introduce yourself and say you're looking for a friend. I don't know if people who volunteer for international assignments have a common personality trait that makes it work or the realization that "we're all in this together" strips away any desire to be introverted.
*Our girls are receiving an education that I wouldn't trade for anything.
*The Spirit is moving here, I've never been surrounded by such faithful people in my life, it's incredible.
*This will be an adventure of a lifetime.
I have figured out where to do most of our food shopping and I hope to start cooking more meals soon. I would like to experiment with the free home delivery that several places offer; I've just been too afraid to try and ask about it. I have a favorite fruit stand and we get some free fruit for being regulars. I also have a favorite vegetable stand because the lady has the warmest smile of anyone at the wet market.
I have made goals for myself as school is starting and our schedules will start to fill up. My top three priorities are to 1) learn some basic Chinese, 2) volunteer at LBean's school, 3) volunteer at a local orphanage. This is my opportunity to learn more about what our future adoptive child's life was like before joining our family and I can try to be a positive impact on other children's lives.
Those that know me well, know that I am a crier by nature. I've called it my "spiritual gift" and I really can't help it. I made a deal with myself that I could cry 6 times in the first 6 weeks. I had to evaluate whether something was worth crying over because I only had 6 cries available. So far, I've kept it together (and the breakdown might still come) and I certainly can't take credit for holding the pieces together. I'll give all the credit to Him because I had nothing to do with it!