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.
Soon the Cambodian Stars became one of the last things packed and first things put up whenever I moved. And when I myself moved to Cambodia the Cambodian Stars came home. I hung them in my bedroom – a promise, a reminder.