Before leaving Seattle J and I were in a PEPS group. Each week at our meetings we would say our highs and lows for the week. Since today marks the 30th day in China for Baby O and me, I thought that I would do the same for our time in China. I'll start with my lows and end on a high note.
1. Missing family & friends - This comes as no surprise. I knew this was going to be the hardest part for me. My first week was particularly hard and lonely (Baby O isn't much of a conversationalist and J is gone from 7AM to 7PM). Just before leaving Seattle I had been on my maternity leave and I had something planned almost every day. There were baby groups, paly dates, dog park outings, lunches/dinners/happy hour with friends, breakfast out with my parents and walks around Greenlake. I am slowly finding more to keep me busy, and my mind off what I am missing back in the USA. I've go coffee meet ups, a baby group, Skyping with family and I am taking Mandarin lessons twice a week.
2. Language barrier - Simple tasks like ordering lunch or dinner are no longer simple. A lot of restaurants have pictures menus or English menus which helps, but they aren't perfect you, could end up mistakenly ordering cows stomach! Grocery shopping is now a daunting task, not only do I not know what ingredients I can get, I have no idea where to find them or how to ask a store clerk for help. As I said above I just started taking Mandarin lessons twice a week which is hard, but will definitely be helpful in the long run.
3. And a couple other things that come to mind: the heat/humidity, not being able to find a decent glass of wine, the ease of having a car and the food.
1. My time with Baby O - I feel very blessed to be able to have this time with Baby O. If we were still in Seattle I would have been back at work (which I do actually miss) for about two months now. I can't imagine being away from him all day. I got to see him sit up on his own and crawl for the first time (I'll post a video of this, as soon as I can actually get him to crawl when I have the camera). There are many more milestones that I probably would have missed if I weren't here right now. I am incredibly happy to have this special time with Baby O when he is growing and learning and changing so quickly.
2. Meeting new people - It took me a couple of weeks, but I started meeting some other expats. The people I have met are a very welcoming group of people from all over the world: Germany, USA, Brazil, Belgium, Australia, Japan, Scotland, England. Everyone I have met has offered to show me around Suzhou and given me their phone number in case I need anything. Some have even offered to watch Baby O.
3. And a coupe other highs: big city living, the food (I know this is in the lows too, some food is great, so I wouldn't make for myself) and the smiles of the Chinese people when they see Baby O.