I’ve sat down to write this blog post 3 times, and each time I struggle to get started. Each day is a new experience, and what was challenging yesterday is no big deal today. One week ago, we were trapped outside in a rainstorm and the only way to get from point A to point B was to walk. Today, I know how to use DiDi, which is similar to Lyft, to get a ride anywhere I need to go. 5 days ago we had no sheets, pillows or blankets for the beds in our apartment. Today, we have most everything we need in order to get settled into our new home. Last week, I accidentally ordered Grady a durian pizza after pointing at what I thought was a cheese pizza. (If you’ve never smelt durian, be very, very grateful.) Today, our kitchen is stocked with healthy foods the kids will actually eat.
Life, in short, has changed dramatically and every day presents a new challenge. The things we took for granted back home, like hopping in the car for a trip to Target, just aren’t possible here. To get the things we need for our home, we have to get on a bus, ride it for 20 minutes, and then navigate the aisles of a store where everything is in a language we cannot read. Our translation apps make things a little easier, but some things just don’t translate well. (Which is why we now have sheets that are about 6 inches too long for the kids’ beds.)
The upside to all of these challenges is that they’re creating a strong bond among the foreign faculty. Whenever one of us learns something new, that knowledge is happily shared with the rest of the newbies. There is a sense of camaraderie that you just don’t ordinarily get back in the US where ordering food, buying household items and getting around are no big deal. When the ordinary becomes extraordinarily difficult, you become reliant on people in a way you previously would have never imagined.