It’s official, we’ve been here for 3/4 of a year now and I thought I’d take a moment and reflect back on the first nine months.
- I have not ridden on the bus again since that very first time (read my post here "Small Triumphs")! It’s not that I don’t like the bus or the bus system, I just haven’t felt like I have had an entire morning, or day, to really conquer riding the bus. Oh well...
- Our fruit and vegetable purchases have grown less adventuresome. In one post I mentioned that I tried to buy a new fruit or vegetable every time I went to the market. We still try new fruits, in fact I bought what I thought were blackberries yesterday, but my fruit man said they were mulberries. However, I am sending my Ayi to get our fruits & veggies most weeks, so I’m not at the market to be tempted by new things. As for the veggies, we’re just in a rut.
- We are on our second driver and our second Ayi and it happened all around the same time. There are many reasons why we chose to do this and I won’t go into a lot of detail as to why, but I would like to say that I am very happy that we did. Both are fitting into our family and our routine here very well. Although it was a bit chaotic for a few weeks, it was a good decision. Before we moved, Jamie and I were participating in a day-long cultural training in our home to get us ready to move overseas. The training was excellent and we both really enjoyed it. However, looking back, I would suggest that they also include a portion of the training on how to be an employer. In the US I had a housekeeper that came once or twice a month and she was a friend of a friend. Other than high school babysitters, Jamie and I have not personally employed people. How do we know when it’s time to let someone go? How do you fire someone properly? How do you show kindness and compassion, but not allow yourself to be walked all over and taken advantage of? It’s even harder when the people are working in your home and so closely with your children. These are lessons that we hadn’t anticipated learning.
- We have not been back to the Hope school yet. Jamie and I were so moved by the new school his company is building for a small village north of Suzhou (read about it here "Leaving the Bubble") and we had hoped to be more involved, but the opportunity hasn’t presented itself. Maybe when the building is finished we’ll be able to visit again. We did get to see some of the students perform at Jamie’s Chinese New Year dinner ("Enter the Dragon").
- Life has been running at a much slower pace. Before we moved, a friend (who had lived abroad growing up) told me “the first 6 months don’t count.” I think that can mean several things...give yourself a chance to adjust and don’t judge your new home entirely on first impressions...it will get easier, give yourself time to make friends...and for us, the first 6 months were all about experiencing and saying “yes” to almost every opportunity that presented itself. For me, that meant doing lots of day trips to the pearl market, grocery shopping with friends, meeting for lunch, volunteering, seeing all of the Suzhou sights, etc. Now that some of the newness has worn off, the pace of life has slowed down drastically. Part of that’s because it’s cold outside, not to mention that it’s cold & flu season, and our weekends have been spent in our warm apartment, resting up from the week. As it warms up outside, I’m sure we’ll start to do more things, but I’m enjoying this new pace of life.
- We brought too many kitchen things. Just a side note...had to throw that in!
- It is nice to not be the newbie! By no means do I have it all figured out, but it is nice to have some of it figured out so I can now share that with the new people that arrived in Suzhou.
- I do daydream about “moving home”. I am enjoying life here and I haven’t had a “China day” in quite some time. But, it is possible that at this time next year, plans will be in full swing to get our family moved back to the US in the summer or at least by Christmas. I do think about what home projects I want to tackle, which preschool I want EBean to attend and when I need to register her, what special China “momentos” I want to make sure I bring back, and about friends I want to reconnect with. Time will fly, I am certain of that!