Sunday, May 6, 2012

The eXpat Files, Vol. 1

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.

再见

22 comments:

  1. Very interesting! Would love to hear more. I am especially intrigued about your reaction to them taking pictures of your kids without first asking and holding your kids. I would find this kinda hard to get used to!
    Angie

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very cool!! I grew up in the Philippines and the market place looks very much the same, in a way, I miss it :) What's fascinating to me is that you live on a high rise building. That must be such a neat experience!! Thanks for sharing a little bit of your life with us!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Rachel, This is so fun to read. You know we live in Turkey and so of course my interest is peeked. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed the pics and look forward to hearing more of your stories/story in china.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'd love to hear more about your day-to-day too!
    My husband and I toss around the idea of living in Portugal or Brazil (since we both speak Portuguese) but I'm not sure we could pull it off with the kids and being farther from family than we are now :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Facinating, I've worked with a few Chinese people and know that they are mostly lovely people with a culture that is very different, do tell us more.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a fantastic opportunity you have given your children! I am excited to read about your everyday experiences in such a different environment.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'd love to hear more. We traveled to China to adopt our daughter four years ago and it was an amazing experience. Such a beautiful country with rich history and customs. I could do without the pollution though. I can't wait to go back someday. Please share more.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I for one definitely want to hear more! I find it fascinating to learn about other countries, especially if someone can give a first hand account and compare it to what I know as daily life! I would love to know about shopping (groceries and what not), cooking, every day experiences, etc. Whatever you are comfortable sharing I think we would all be interested in learning. What an amazing opportunity for your family and your children! Thanks for sharing with us!

    ReplyDelete
  9. What an exciting adventure! I love that you are embracing it together. My family spent 2010 as expats in Taiwan. We treasure those memories and dream of our next international adventures together, be they short or long. I just found your blog and stumbled on this post. Share more! It will bless us and be great as this experience of adventure shapes your family. Love it! Jai yo!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wonderful! I teach second grade and we study China. It is great to hear your day-to-day experiences and would love to know more to share with my students.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love hearing about stuff like this! I know several people now that have lived in China. It would certainly be different. I hope that you share more about your time there.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My sister, her husband, and their baby are all in China, too - in Shenzhen. Everyone ADORES their little baby boy - I think he sometimes feels a bit celebrity-ed out!

    I would love to hear more about your adventures :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for all of your comments. I am excited to know there are several of you that are interested. Now I'm motivated to make something meaningful out of my stories to share with all of you. Thanks for taking the time to leave me a note! You'll be hearing more soon!

    ReplyDelete
  14. What an awesome experience to be sharing with your family. I can't wait to read more about it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I know how you feel being the minority. When we went to pick up our son in Korea, we stood out everywhere we went. Seoul is not exactly a vacation spot, so there weren't many tourists. I guess we got a little dose of what our son will experience as he gets older. I can't wait to hear more about your journey!

    ReplyDelete
  16. wow! what a unique experience. i never knew how you came to be over there! i think it would be so neat to experience {and have our kids experience} life in another country. i also didn't know that you were a fellow midwestern girl!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. What wonderful memories and experiences you have shared! I am excited to read more!Thanks so much for sharing with us!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ni Hao! We returned from China in 2009, so I understand what you mean about highs and lows. It is an amazing experience, but sometimes doing the little stuff like fixing the washing machine can seem on par with moving a mountain! I look forward to hearing more of your adventures!

    ReplyDelete
  19. How exciting! What a wonderful experience for your family. Can not wait to read more.

    ReplyDelete
  20. How exciting! What a wonderful experience for your family. Can not wait to read more.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi! I just found your blog and was so excited to see that you are in China. My husband and I moved our 3 little boys to Thailand in August 2011. We had also really been wanting to live abroad and decided to take that leap and what an experience it has been. It was so nice to read about another family that is having so many similar experiences as us. (Especially the picture part...I have often said I wonder how many Thais have pictures of my children!) Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Are you in Tianjin? (I can't quite figure out where you are, but I probably haven't looked hard enough). You have an amazing blog and I'd like to include it on my site if that's alright with you: http://families.tianjinexpats.com/

    ReplyDelete

I LOVE hearing from you! Your feedback means so much to me. Thanks for your comments!