Transitions are always near the forefront of an expat's mind. With so much going and coming, as well as moving here and there, transitions are a part of life living abroad.
I remember coming back to Beijing, one year ago, after visiting home in California for the holidays. At first it was hard for me. I was depressed. Soon after I joined the gym and it got better (I guess there really is something to the whole working out and mental health thing). On a level of one to ten, ten being a complete basket case that needs locking up, I would say last years post holiday transition for me was about a five. That transition was smoother than that of moving here, thank goodness, which I would rate about a seven. That was when hubby had to unhook the router to the internet because I WAS booking a plane ticket home!
This Summer was about the same as at Christmas, a five I suppose. It took me a good week to venture out again. I was nervous to speak Chinese and I really missed my family and all the great times we had together. Plus the Giants were still playing and winning and I hated not being there for the World Series! Plus there is nothing like being in your parents home, the same home you grew up in!
I didn't quite know how this time would be, after arriving back in Beijing after being in Hawaii with my family. I have been surprised at how easy it has been to transition this time for me. I would rate it a two! I've been thinking about why this is the case.
I believe, first, it has been an easier transition because we did not go home for Christmas. Skipping the mainland and meeting my family in Hawaii was a fun choice at the time, but I was worried I would soon regret it. After all, we would miss seeing all of Hubby's side of the family. That is a huge sacrifice for everyone that I am appreciative of. Also, Christmas doesn't feel like all that much like Christmas in Hawaii. It was a great time and I am glad we did it, despite the sacrifices. But not seeing my home, my parents home and my in-laws home didn't allow my heart to be pulled back there, which made my Beijing home much easier to come back to.
Also, we are coming up on our 18th month here in Beijing. It is true that time changes everything. It really does feel like normal and our home now. This is the first time I've come back and things like mucus on the sidewalks and blackened snow only partly gross me out. I barely even flinched at the loogie hawking this week. Seeing familiar faces, after being gone for two weeks, makes me happy. Noticing small changes in the neighborhood gives me feelings of nostalgia. I even ventured out, only after a day home!
This brings me to my anxiety about our upcoming transition...that of going home! In about six months we will be ending all of these adventures and opening up a new chapter. At this point, we have no idea of where we are headed in the States. At the beginning of this we thought we would be going right back to our exact life in the exact same location...that just may not be the case. It stinks that now that I am really loving the perks of living here it will all be over. The thing about two year assignments is that you spend your whole first year gearing up and your last year winding down. Three or four years would be ideal. Is that me that just wrote that? Don't tell hubby!
Of course, I am worried about our next move. It will be more permanent than this move to China. The US can be a scary place with crime and classmates that are not as accepting as students at International schools. After all, students at International schools are very used to accepting new students. I do know, however, that we will get through this next transition the same way we made it through these last ones...with lots and lots of earnest prayer.