Many of you know that we lived in China for a year. I’ve seen a lot of “things I learned” articles lately, so I thought I’d do one on China. I actually learned MORE than five things, but I think these are the most IMPORTANT five things I learned.
1. WE ARE VERY SPOILED. That probably goes without saying. But until you live in another country and you see how poor most of the people there are, you don’t realize just how lucky WE are. Most people there live in extremely poor conditions. It’s nothing to see whole families living in a very small house. And by family I mean, grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, kids and sometimes other relatives as well. Plus they don’t live in the houses we’re used to. It’s mostly just 1 or 2 rooms. And they work for very cheap. You can get someone to cook, clean, and babysit 40 hours a week for $400-$1000 A MONTH, and many times those people, known as Ayi, are the highest paid member of their family! Here we’re always so busy keeping up with our neighbors, that I don’t think we take the time to appreciate all of the amazing things we have in our lives.
2. I’M A LOT STRONGER THAN I THOUGHT I WAS. You see, I was TERRIFIED about moving to another country. Yeah, it may have only been for a year, but it was still far away from everyone and everything I’ve ever known. I didn’t know if I could do it. I honestly thought I COULDN’T do it. But guess what? I did. I made it. I survived. And I think it made me a better person. It also made me realize that I AM stronger than I thought I was.
3. YOU DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO FOR YOUR FAMILY. I can’t tell you the number of people that told me, “I don’t know how you did it. I couldn’t.” But I don’t think that’s true. I think you do what you have to do for your family. We knew this would be a good thing for us, so while it WASN’T easy, I knew it was something that I HAD do because it was the right thing for us. Now, that being said, I DO NOT WANT TO DO IT AGAIN!
4. YOU CAN FIND GOOD PEOPLE EVERYWHERE YOU GO. YOU JUST HAVE TO BE OPEN TO MAKING NEW FRIENDS. The thing that terrified me the most about moving was not having any of my friends and family that I rely on daily. And since we were only going to be there for one year, I didn’t think I’d be able to make new friends. But guess what? I did. We met some AMAZING people. The very first person I met was the Director at the kids’ school. I’d been talking to her through email for a month before we moved there, and when I met her in person, she was even more heartwarming and comforting than I could have imagined. Jason had this PHENOMENAL teacher that not only took care of him, but in a way, she also took care of me. The second week we were there we met some neighbors on the 7th floor. Their son was in 5th grade like Jason. She became my confidant. I honestly don’t know if I would have survived without her. Whenever I was having a bad day, she was there to listen to me. She’d come up or I’d go down and we’d visit and have lunch or coffee at least once or twice a week. We’d go out for lunch or shopping on a weekly basis. When Mom and Dad came in they let us use their driver to pick them up from the airport. They took the kids to school almost daily for us. She was definitely my closest friend and confidant while I was there. I also met another person through Jason. Her son was one of his friends from class. She and I hit it off pretty well and had some good times together. I met another friend while grading papers for Jason’s class. She was grading papers in the class across from me, so we spent every Tuesday morning together, and most days we’d go out to lunch or shopping after we were finished at school. The point is, I never would have met these amazing people if I hadn’t taken the opportunity to talk to the people in the elevator, the mother’s at school, or the teachers and staff in the hallway.
5. SOMETIMES WHAT SEEMS LIKE A BAD THING, CAN ACTUALLY BE A GOOD THING. Like I said before, I was TOTALLY freaked about moving to China. And I didn’t want to go. But I never said no. If I had been really adamant about not going, we might not have gone. And I/WE would have missed so much. Yeah, it was a hard year in a lot of ways. But it was also a great year in even more ways. We made some awesome friends, saw some amazing sights, visited places most people never have the opportunity to see, grew closer as a family, and basically had a once in a lifetime experience. It’s one I’ll never regret, and I’m so thankful we had that opportunity.