Friday, July 6, 2012

{Six Months in Review}

It's kind of incredible to think that we have been in China for over six months now. Time has gone by so quickly that it snuck up on us! I've had a lot to share but have put off because of how busy work has been, and I've quite frankly been too lazy to upload and edit pictures. With the way my procrastination works, I might as well share words with you now, and pictures with you later, or I'll never get around to anything at all!

Suzhou has been wonderful to us. We really enjoy our city and the pace of life. We love the apartment complex we live in, and have established a level of comfort with the people that live around us. We are obviously recognizable, and people have become familiar and used to having us around. The majority of the people here are sweet natured, and we have had several instances of people defending us or taking care of us when we have struggled to communicate or rise to a social custom.  Several weeks ago we were trying to buy some fruit to snack on from a fruit vendor outside of the complex and were frustrated with his attempts to take advantage of our being foreign. We were being as clear as we could about how much we wanted, he 'knew' but was trying to up sale anyway. A few people passing by that recognized us observed what was going on and stood in on our behalf and badgered him into giving us what we were asking for. In a place where many of the cultural differences cause clashes and aggravation, I've really learned to appreciate the underlying kindness in the people here.

Work continues and I do my best to thrive within it. It's been an interesting experience to work for Disney in an educational setting. It's been even more so interesting to observe the state of education in other countries in comparison with home along with parenting styles, expectations on children, and the relationship the two cultures have with their teachers. I'm sincerely grateful to have had this experience and I really think it will shape my decisions as I move forward with my career when we return home.
Jeff has probably had the most sincerely funny, aggravating, eye opening, and all around more interesting experiences between the two of us, and I cannot begin to tell his stories as well as he can ( I suppose I'll have to push him into sharing a few posts). While I spend the majority of my time working and recovering from working, he spends his time out and about running errands, exploring, avoiding conflicts { or not}, and overall interacting with this people much more frequently than I do. He's had much more experience with culture shock than I {working in an English speaking environment has been life saving}, and has had his ups and downs with being here. He's been anxiously engaged in trying to find work to occupy and supplement our income, and in doing so has met some interesting people along the way. Still, with the challenge of running the household, and staving off boredom, he continues to be the plucky and amazing guy we all know and adore. He's pretty much the most awesome person I know and I'm so very glad to have him here.

This has been the most amazing experience to go through as a newly married couple. We have the freedom of independence in the extreme living half-way around the world. We've been able to hammer out some of our differences without the interference of {loving} family and friends. We've really had to be each other's best friend in every way, because there's not really anyone else to do it! I get compliments and astonishment from the local girls that I work with here. They frequently exclaim how lucky and well taken care of by {Mr. Incredible} and that their husbands don't do anywhere near what he does for me. Well into our second year of marriage I'm pleased to say that I have not been more in love with this excellent man than I am now.

I've been thinking a lot on the subject of marriage. My attitude towards the institution has changed so dramatically since getting married myself. I get so gleeful looking through the pictures of friends nuptials, and I love seeing people so happy to have found that perfect person for them. It reminds me of how happy I was to go through it myself. There's also been a flip side to this phenomenon. So many people I know have ended their marriages. So young, so sudden, and so sad to think about. There have been a couple of days where I've been stuck in my head pondering what must go wrong to give up on a spouse and marriage so early. People that I've known for a long time and who made excellent couples have split and it simply breaks my heart. It also makes me meta-cognizant of how important my own relationship is to me, and how much harder I want to work on myself and my partnership with Jeff. I simply don't think that I could go through that kind of heartbreak, and cannot fathom losing my best friend.

If that wasn't enough to think about, I've also been thinking about babies. No, Jeff and I don't have any news we'd like to share, but thanks for asking {;)}. Babies are simply springing up left and right around here like weeds. Here, and on Facebook, in fact. Of course we want to have our own eventually. In the mean time, I've just been contemplating parenting and paths to parenthood a lot. The cultural differences, rules, norms, and expectations are so different in the two countries; it's been intriguing to watch how the differences affect the outcome of the children. I've had several interesting conversations with the ladies I work with about the one child policy and their thoughts and opinions on it, as well as the technicalities of it, and the entire culture around child rearing here is so fascinating.

We haven't travelled as much as we would like to while here in China, but we're more focused on saving money and doing what's fiscally responsible for us and our future. In spite of that, we've had some great experiences locally that we've been able to participate in, and I don't feel like we've missed out simply because we haven't been all over the country. We are very lucky to have picked the city that we have, because in doing so we are located in a culturally rich area where we have been able to experience and see most of what makes china unique and special. When I finally do get around to those pictures, I'll be sure to share some of the festivals and places we've been able to visit in more detail.

 We continue to learn, grow, and enjoy our experiences here in China. We haven't regretted the decision to spend this time here, although we do miss family and friends very much. We look forward to the next six months with just as much optimism as when we came, and look forward to sharing our adventures with you!

Thank you for your love and support!

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