Yesterday was our one-year anniversary of living in Shanghai. I thought it would feel more momentous somehow, and it ended up being just another day. But I think that’s good. I think it means I have finally stopped thinking of myself as someone who just moved here, and instead look at my life here as more real, more permanent, and more settled.
There are so many ways that our lives have changed since we left the US last September. The first mornings we were here my husband, son, and I walked the streets of our neighborhood at dawn, trying to recover from our jetlag. We walked, and as the sun rose on those beautiful September days, we talked about what kind of routine we would have here. It all felt really promising, but scary at the same time. Once my husband went to work my son and I were left to navigate life on our own each day, and it was hard. But in a matter of months it started to feel more familiar and less scary, and now one year later I can hardly imagine being worried about fitting into life here.
I have been part of so many opportunities that open us up to new friends and interesting adventures. Shanghai is constantly changing, and that means we are free to change and grow, too.
One of the biggest things we promised ourselves we would do is travel. And travel we have! We’ve been to: Anji, Zhejiang Province to see the bamboo forest; to Moganshan to enjoy the mountains and fresh(er) air; we’ve been to Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Beijing and the Great Wall of China; we’ve been to Japan, Yangshuo, Cambodia, and Thailand. And there are still at least half a dozen more “must-see” places on our list. It’s been so exciting to mix it up between visits to Chinese cities and other Asia-Pacific countries. What a gift to see how life is lived in so many places.
What’s on tap for year two? More travel, I hope! And preparation for the future, as well. Taking career development classes, signing up for all manner of volunteer opportunities, and thinking a lot about what I want to do with my career when I return home are my top priorities. Our balance of living the ex-pat life while maintaining an eye on the future is really helping me enjoy this experience more and more. I don’t want to worry about what I will do when I return and miss out on fun opportunities here, but I also don’t want to return home and wish I had spent more time during my work sabbatical planning for the next step in my career. Having that balance feels like the right place for me to be after a year of adjustment and constant travel.
What are your main goals for your time here in Shanghai?