01.12.2007 - 22.12.2007 15 °C
Well, we have been in China now for about 6 months now. Wow, can you believe it has been that long? Some days it seems like we've been here forever, other days, it seems like we just arrived. Overall, we have been really happy with our experience. It has been a growing experience for each of us, individually and as a couple. For me, I have really learned patience in the last few months, I don' think I would have survived over here if I hadn't learned to just chill out! Everything here takes time! It takes time to get a cab, to take the subway, to find a restaurant, to get to the front of the "line", the list goes on and on. At first, this was a huge hassle, I couldn't get used to the fact that it takes 2 hours to go out to eat, I was so used to hopping in my car and getting anywhere I wanted in 10 minutes or less. Over time, I have learned to enjoy the traveling I do in Shanghai, it gives me time to read, listen to music, or just think; all things I didn't do frequently enough back in the states. My lesson on patience isn't just limited to my time though, I have also gained patience in my interactions with others. When I first got here, I was tense, the combination of the big city and an unfamiliar culture was too much for me to handle. I got frustrated when people walked into me in the streets, when they cut in front of me in line, when they got on the elevator before I got a chance to get off. I constantly felt like I was under attack, like I needed to look out all the time for the next person who was going to intentionally plow me over with their bike! On top of all that, everyday was filled with the frustration of a language barrier, not only were people bumping into me, but I couldn't even yell at them for it! I'm not sure exactly what caused my attitude to change or when it happened but I have slowing become more and more at peace with my environment. The circumstances haven't changed, people still push me and I still have to dodge bikes on the sidewalk, but instead of it annoying me, I have just learned to accept it as a part of the culture. Yes, it can be an annoying part of the culture but I have learned that people aren't doing it to be rude, its just a huge frickin city! There are 15 million people living here and you can't always watch out for everyone else. If the bus is crowded, sometimes you have to push your way off. The streets are crowded and sometimes you just get in peoples way, its not rude, its just the way it is. The language is still a barrier but I have begun to look at it as more of an adventure than a problem, sometimes I get lost, sometimes I give the wrong change, lots of times I just have to stand there and look stupid. But, all these things are okay! You just have to adapt to your environment, mostly I have learned that life is what you make it. My experiences are shaped by my attitude, if my attitude is good, life is good.
As a couple, I would have to say that Nate & I have never been closer. Truthfully, we were both a little nervous when we thought about how much time we would be spending together, in the states we had a fair amount of independence from each other. Some nights we would head our separate ways, and we have always appreciated that about our relationship. Since coming to China, we spend almost all of our time together, basically we are together 24 hours a day, except when we are at work. Being in a different country, we have really had to rely on each other and this has brought us closer together. We really feel like a team here. We have quite a bit of time to just enjoy each other's company and get to know each other in new ways. Our strengths and weaknesses seem to compliment each other well and we have really been able to help each other out on difficult days. We have had lots of time to talk about our relationship, life, and our goals for the future. All in all, this adventure has really developed our relationship in a way that we did not expect, it has been wonderful!
And now, it is the Holiday season! China does not really celebrate Christmas, the malls get all decked out, just like in the states, but it seems kind of artificial. Also, the weather here is still a lot warmer than in Michigan, 40s & 50s everyday, so it has been difficult to get into the holiday spirit. It has also been a little difficult to go through this season without friends and family close by, we really miss the family time that the holidays tend to bring. Luckily we have been able to talk with our parents regularly on Skype and we really look forward to "seeing" everyone on Christmas Day. For the holidays, Nate & I have decided to go on vacation. On Sunday, we will be traveling to Hainan, which is a resort island in the South China Sea. We plan to enjoy the warm weather and go swimming in the ocean. We really hope that it will be a relaxing time for us. We are staying in a really nice, 5 star hotel (stuff is alot cheaper here!) which overlooks the ocean, the hotel also has a big Christmas feast on Christmas night which is an added bonus.
So, thats pretty much sums up our first six months here. Although we miss everyone a ton, we have really had a great experience and we really are looking forward to see what the next 10(?) months have in store for us.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Love, Nate & Heidi