Okay, so I know it seems like all I've done is to complain about China. But there are a lot of good things here as well, so I thought I should share those with you too.
Being from the States, we're in a group known as "Ex-Pats." It's the group of "westerners" that have been transplanted to Shanghai. There are a lot of us. More than I would have expected. And we're all scared. And yet, we're also a little excited. And curious. And scared. (Did I mention, scared)?! But there's a level of compassion that I've never seen anywhere else. When you walk out the door and you see someone that looks "like" you, you notice right away. And you talk to each other; something you probably wouldn't have done in the States.
If you meet someone that's just arrived, as you have, they understand what you're going through, because they're going through the same things. They share what they're learning, because they know you'll need to learn them too. They ask for advice and opinions on the things you've learned.
If you meet someone that's been here for awhile, you notice that they take you under their wing. They become concerned about you. They ask how you're doing. They ask what you need. They ask what they can do to help you. They give you advice on what TO do, and what NOT to do. They call or e-mail just to check on you. They invite you to dinner, or down for a chat. They really care.
Friendships and relationships develop very quickly here. You don't have anyone else to depend on, so you learn to depend on others. You don't have anyone else to share your problems and fears with, so you learn to share with them. You don't have anyone else to open up to, so you open up to them.
Yes, being a way from home is very hard. And I miss it every day. But I'm also very thankful for the experience our family is having to live in another country. Most people never have this opportunity. And I think we need to embrace it, and learn from it, and enjoy it. And yes, we're going to miss home, and we're going to miss our family and friends. And that's okay. But we're also going to make new friends that we never would have made if we'd stayed home. And when we leave here next summer, I think it'll be hard to leave them behind.
Shanghai is a beautiful city. And we've only got 1 year to experience it. So I plan on learning as much as I can. I plan on enjoying the sites. I want to meet new people. I want to experience a new culture. I want to take it all in, and enjoy the opportunities we are going to have over the next year.