A year ago today, my husband and I were traveling home after a week in China. We had decided to take a leap and accept an expat offer for my husband to work at a new factory a couple hours from Beijing. CHINA! We had been interested in living abroad, and here was our chance. And so the whirl-wind began. I had never heard the term "expat" until my husband and I had moved our family from Canada to the US with his work 5 years earlier. And here we were... expats again!
During the week in China, we had a chance to find a home.. .which happened to be an apartment building on the 24th floor of a high-rise. Much different from our beautiful, but modest family home in Iowa.
We had a chance to explore the city. I visited some local markets and grocery stores, so I would know where I would soon be shopping.
We visited the International School that we planned to enroll our children in.
And we stood out like a sore thumb! You find foreigners in parts of Beijing and Hong Kong, but there aren't many NON-Chinese people roaming around China. I have yet to learn just how many people live in the city we are living in now. The neighboring city, Tianjin, has 18 million people. My husband and I both grew up in small towns of 1000, and 1500 residents. Never before have we been minorities. Never before have we lived so close to so many people!!
I was concerned about how we would be received as Americans in a foreign country. Especially, a country that we are greatly indebted to! However, we quickly learned that the people here are very curious about us. In a way, I feel we are idolized. They ALWAYS want to admire the children, and often are taking photographs of them (sometimes they ask, but often they don't). They want to hold the children's hands, and always want to hold my youngest.
So in July, our home in Iowa was packed up. My family of five sat on a 13 hour flight (and were AMAZINGLY so well behaved), got over the jet lag, and adjusted to the new time zone. And here we are, already 10 months in China, and I haven't shared much of any of this experience with you. I think I am now ready.
After being here for 10 months, I believe I'm really starting to understand what this experience has offered our family, and what we are all learning. We are learning a lot about ourselves, as well as another culture. We have our ups and downs. Some days we are all very happy and content here, and some days we want nothing more than to be back "home". It is rough, but over all, I think it has been a great opportunity for all of us. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful expat community where we live too. In China, we enjoy our time with friends from around the world.
I am not sure how much interest my readers have in knowing about our experience as expats, or our life here in China. I thought that I would begin by sharing once a month with all of you. If there is anything you would like to know more about, please let me know... I'd love to hear your thoughts.
So here is the introduction! I will share more with you in the months to come. We have another two years in China, so I am sure I will have lots of stories to tell in that time.