This month we’re celebrating one year in Shanghai. I’ve been thinking a lot about this anniversary because our first days in Shanghai were not easy. It was a massive feat, both logistically and emotionally, to move a 6 month old across the Pacific. As first time parents we were still sorting out life with an infant, and suddenly we found ourselves in a country where we couldn’t communicate our basic needs. I questioned our decision to relocate a lot in those early days, and clung to my contract end date as our pass back to sanity. And now here we are a year later – signed on for a second year in China.
It’s hard for me to even admit to myself sometimes how difficult it was for me to adjust to life in Shanghai because it feels like a failure. Longer and more demanding hours at work, an apartment in a concrete high rise that just couldn’t feel like home, and a 6-month old daughter who trusted me innately and deeply to make good decisions for her – all these things meant that I never had that honeymoon phase I’ve learned to relish when experiencing a new destination.
Fast forward a year, and I still sometimes question our decision to move to China, but I also feel excited for the coming months. I know moon cakes will soon appear in bakeries across the city in preparation for Mid Autumn Festival. I know the first week of October is National Week – and that we’ll set off to explore somewhere we have never been, or never thought we’d have the chance to go. Shanghai will heat up to unbearable temperatures over the coming months, but I know that Evie can find respite from the heat in the splash pad just a few metro stops away, and that if we are too lazy to make breakfast on Saturday morning there are many deliciously fried street food treats just one block away. Slowly, Shanghai has become familiar, and in some ways, home.