As the school year winds down I started to reflect over the past year. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone by… not only is a school year complete but almost our first year living abroad!
This comes with many mixed feelings and not the usual relief and excitement of another year coming to a close.Working overseas is very different as we prepare to say good-bye to so many children, families, fellow co-workers and new-found friends. So many people are moving onto new schools, cities or returning home. Life as we know it will be very different next year as some people leave and new people take their places. Our familiar routines and expectations will be different and unknown. As many of you know I am not afraid of what is next and thrive on the excitement and the opportunities it may open up, but that does not make the good-byes any easier.
Thinking about others leaving raises many questions about my own future. Next year will be the last year of my contract. Will I be saying good-bye and returning home or moving to a new country and working there? Will I stay in China? As I look back I realize how lucky I have been having full-time work, although it was hard to be away from friends and family missing so many celebrations and events. Being away has afforded us a life style and opportunities and excitement we would have never had if we stayed at home. Thinking about the travel we have done and more to come, meeting Jane Goodall, living in a word class city, experiencing a new way of life, culture and language…. and so much more. Most of all I must be thankful for the full-time work and job security! At home in Ontario I would have continued to wait for calls, compete with thousands for any openings and get jobs based more on who I know and not what I know. It feels good to know I have a place to go everyday and do what I love to do… the whole reason for being here. All the other things are an added bonus.
Thinking about all we’ve done, reading old posts and thinking of new people coming I realize we are no longer the newbies. Easily we can get around in taxis and on the subway, speak a few words (although John speaks and understands more), understand the money and can purchase the things we need with little difficulty. We have transitioned into a new world, way of life and culture. Things still cause us to do the double take and I hope that never changes… but at the same time we kind of expect things to be unusual. As our first year comes to a close we no longer have 1 foot at home and 1 here… we have bridged the gap, made the leap and have 2 feet firmly (?) planted in our new home. Now we are ready to look back and share our new home with friends from home and to reach out to others to help them make the transition to their new life in Shanghai.
We’ll be back in Canada in a few weeks and ready to share pictures and stories from life in Shanghai as well as catch up with friends and family before heading back here. Stay tuned for more adventures and life in Shanghai…