It has been two years since we moved abroad. Many of you have come alongside us on our journey through this blog. You have read about the ups and downs, the adventures and the challenges. It has been quite a ride since my first blog post ’tis Christmas Day two days before our big move to Shanghai. We have learned and experienced so much.
Since you have heard all about my thoughts on how our transition has been going, I thought it was time to check-in with a couple of those left behind. Our daughter, Autumn, 24 (today…happy birthday my dear!), and Hunter, our 20-year-old who is in college back in Michigan. How have they adapted to our move? How have the past two years affected them? I asked them to give me a little synopsis of their thoughts. Here is their take on our 730 days living as ex-pats.
I believe that my family moving abroad has been an overall positive experience for all of us. It’s had its rough patches. But the opportunity has opened up doors we didn’t even know existed, and that makes it all worth it in the end.
This big change happened right when another big change in my life was happening. I got married, so I already had some adapting to do. It was honestly the best time for them to move since it really gave my husband and me the chance to start our own lives and begin to figure out things on our own. And since I had already lived away from home for four years, the biggest thing to get over was the time difference.
Thanks to technology, we still talk at least once a week and even though I see them less, I am able to try to keep up with their comings and goings. However, there are times where I feel more like a distant aunt than a part of the immediate family. Not so much when I talk to my parents, but with my brothers. I missed a lot of growing up, which is by far the worst part about this whole thing. Since they are teenagers and see little to no value in talking to their sister, my conversations with them end up like a relative during the holidays. “So, how’s school going?” “What sports are you playing?” “Seen any good movies lately?” It’s surface and a little forced. But I have a feeling it would still be that way if they didn’t live on the other side of the world.
The perks have been incredible. I still can’t believe all the amazing things I’ve seen and done since they moved abroad. We’ve seen so much and so little of the world, and it’s just made us hungry for more. It’s completely changed our outlook on life and what we want from it.
But I think the best part about my family moving abroad is how it has changed them. They’re happier now. They laugh more and have an adventurous streak a mile long. Their boldness and courage have grown to amounts I can barely comprehend. And after all the wonders we’ve been blessed enough to see, their transformation is the most incredible by far.
When my dad told me that my family was moving halfway across the world I was confused and excited at the same time. I was confused because our family didn’t seem like one that would take big risks. We had only traveled in the United States, lived in the suburbs of a normal town, and enjoyed ourselves there. This was also the reason why I was excited about the move. With me going off to college, I was happy that my family could also go off and explore parts of the world that they hadn’t seen before. They are now exposed to so many different cultures in the melting pot of Shanghai and have been loving every second of it.
Of course, with me being left back in the US there were a few problems that arose. At first, I was worried that my family was so far, but luckily I have my sister living just a 20-minute drive away from me. In addition to that, I was sad that I wouldn’t see them as much anymore. However, I am still able to see my family every summer and during the holidays and now they have plenty of crazy stories to tell me about what has happened since I saw them last. The only problem that I haven’t been able to get over yet is the time difference. It is weird having your family 12 hours ahead of you. You can’t always contact them immediately if something goes wrong, or if you just want to talk.
Other than that, I think this move was the best decision my parents ever made. (Except for having me, of course.) Living in a completely different culture has opened their eyes to the world and shown them things that many Americans have never seen. It’s nice to know how much they are enjoying it there and that I can come and visit whenever I can make the trip work.
I am so thankful that my two children “left behind” view our decision to move half-way around the world as positive, all things considered. They recognize the difficulty, but also appreciate the rich rewards that have come with us living in China. It has truly affected us all. I was so worried about leaving them behind and days like today (missing Autumn’s birthday) are tough. But we have all benefitted so much from this move. They have become independent adults and have pleasantly surprised me with the way they handle life on their own. We remain close, talk often, and share amazing adventures together that would never happen if we did not move here.
730 days have flown by and oh what memories we have made! I hope you have enjoyed the ride as much as we have. Here’s to 730 more. Who knows what the good Lord will have in store. I’m sure it will be amazing. So buckle up, here we go!