Moments from Week 2

Our first two weeks are such a blur. It was such a strange combination of feeling exhausted, busy and bored from minute to minute, day to day. Looking back I feel like I was living outside my body, literally just going through motions. Wake up. Eat. Take a shower. The word that kept coming to my mind was un-tethered. I can’t speak for everyone else but there was sort of this surreal vibe that we were all just kind of floating around, disconnected from any real routine, relationship or structure. Although school starting brought with it a whole new set of feelings, it at least snapped us all out of this bizarre reality.

One of the tasks we had to do to get our resident permit was a medical exam. It was in another part of the city that was far away, it was in the afternoon and we had to be fasting. In the beginning it went really smoothly. In fact, because our medical exam back in NYC that we did for our visa was so thorough, all we had to do was a blood draw. We still had to change out of our clothes and wear white bathrobes, which was interesting. Imagine walking into a locker remove, removing your “up clothing” as the staff member instructed us, and then walking down hallways with other foreigners, all of you in white bathrobes. But it was quick and done. The real problems came when they gave Richard two envelopes to address so that the forms could be mailed after being certified. We walked to a separate building and Richard addressed the envelopes. But when he presented them at the counter he was told he needed to address the envelopes in Chinese. This was a problem because Richard didn’t have the address in Chinese and he certainly couldn’t write it himself even if he did. While he got that sorted out I stared longingly into a vending machine that didn’t take cash and I didn’t have my WeChat pay set up yet on my phone. It was 3:00 in the afternoon and I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink all day. I seriously considered asking someone in the room to buy me a snack and I would pay them back with cash, but was too scared. Needless to say, as soon as we left we had our driver drop us off in a small shop to buy chips and drinks.
We had (still have) minimal toys and entertainment. Fortunately Amirah packed her Paw Patrol pups in her backpack, and they have been her loyal companions through the hard days. She takes them to bed, to the bath and has little chats with them like this one.

After we moved here Richard and I joked (but sort of seriously) about not going to church for awhile. But by the time Sunday rolled around we were all desperate for something that felt familiar or social or out of the house. Church here is so different than Boise and NYC and London, but it has been really great for making friends. We meet in rented space in a conference center, and it’s strange and impersonal and feels more like going to college classes. I got an assignment in the primary (with the kids) and the woman who leads the music is so fantastic I nearly cried through the whole hour my first week in.

Our neighborhood has a pool, which we went to almost daily the first two weeks. Because we have zero pool toys or equipment we’ve had to be creative about how to have fun while swimming, but it’s made for some good memories and fun afternoons.

I felt so much anticipation and excitement leading up to our move here. But honestly, because of the jet lag and the heat and the culture shock and not having our belongings, the excitement went away pretty quickly. Maybe my perspective will change but right now I don’t look back on our first days here with any fondness or sentimentality. It was just a sort of cold and bleak shock to my system and I’m so glad it’s over! The way I see it, it can only get better from here.

One thought on “Moments from Week 2

  1. Dear Jo and family,
    Obviously I can’t imagine living in a new country and trying to maneuver around our feel comfortable. However, knowing you and your amazing family, I feel sure that things will start to get normal and feel better. We think of you often and wishing you a more normal day coming your way. We love to hear about all your experiences good and not so good. Knowing that soon things will get better
    I hope you very all your possessions soon and hopefully that will help ease the strangeness of this foreign land. πŸ˜ŠπŸ’–πŸ‘πŸ™Gary and Julie


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