As I watch the last hours of 2020 ticking away, I have no feelings of excitement or gratitude or hope or even relief. I know nothing will change. In the absence of hope, my tired trust and belief will have to be enough. Because I do believe that I will get through whatever 2021 throws my way. We’ll get through it together.
Going for walks around our neighbourhood is helping me. It helps calm my mind. It helps stretch my body. It helps ground me, and give me a sense of connection rather than isolation.
Recently I’ve written several drafts on cross-cultural life for my ‘work’ blog that are more personal in nature, more emotional in style. I think the decision to make writing my outlet again somehow overflowed naturally.
A year ago today I said goodbye to China. Sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s been so long! I still feel connected to China and leap at any opportunity to talk about China. Here are some things I miss about Beijing, but ALSO things I am loving about Sydney. It’s important to acknowledge what I’ve lost while also appreciating what I’ve gained.
I’ve been here 4+ months now; it’s been 9 months since I left China. Life has felt different, easier, over the past month – which made more clear how difficult the first few months were. Each month is easier and more enjoyable than the one before – I can’t ask for much more than that.
Call it transition, call it grief, call it whatever you like, the result is that I just feel tired. But I was inspired by a list of “used to”s – things she used to do, and things she’s getting used to now. I thought it was an interesting way to reflect on how different the details of life can be during a transition. So here are my own “used to” lists…
People keep asking me about re-entry, and whether I’m struggling to re-adjust. The problem is, I’m starting again, more than returning to something. One big difference community living rather than abundant solitude. One similarity is the international flavour of the community I am living in. It’s also lovely to start reconnecting to the culture of my passport country – its beaches and parks, at least!
I have now been at SMBC for a whole week – so here are some stories from my first week of my new life here in Sydney, Australia. I am amazed at how settled and content I feel just one week in. I do expect the weight of the transition to hit at some point, but I live on a lovely campus with lovely people and am enjoying the study so far.
I leave Cambodia for Australia tomorrow morning, 11 years since I first moved to China. I have crammed a lot into those 11 years! My whole adult life, the whole span of time lived outside my parents’ house. My entire career. All the things I did on my own, as an independent adult, I did in those 11 years.
Six weeks from today I will arrive in Australia and my life will be over. The life I lived in China is no more. I don’t have a life to go back to anywhere in the world, not even Australia.
For the first time since leaving China more than two months ago, I spent time with people who really KNOW me. I came back feeling refreshed, and more myself than I have in a long time. I also gained an extra measure of hope/reassurance about my imminent move to Australia.
I lived a third of my life in China; I miss speaking Mandarin on a daily basis. I’ve been feeling very in-between. I feel far from China, and far from Australia, but I know I don’t totally belong here, either. Australia is looming closer. The more I think about it, the harder it hits that I have left the only life I know, and am heading into something very unknown.