- Picking up a loaf of bread: average round trip time is 1 hour 40 minutes
- Heading to you favorite bookstore for a cappuccino and a 30 minute read: 3 hours
- Going to Carrefour for a serious grocery shopping experience: 3 hours 30 minutes
- Having a driver: priceless
Thursday and Friday of our first week, we had our cultural training. Our trainer was an interesting man. He was originally from Mexico, but had lived in multiple countries, spoke 5 different languages, had a degree in marine biology, and worked in television. He has been living in China for the last 10 years, plans on making China his home, and most importantly, knows what it is like to be an expatriate in this foreign land. Of the many useful and interesting information he shared with us, one of the more amusing and true was an acronym known as T.I.C.
“T.I.C.” stands for “This Is China”. This sense of amusement, bewilderment, outright frustration, and indignation known lovingly as T.I.C., is an inevitable part of life when living in China. As an example, Phil and I were waiting for an elevator one day. We were the only 2 people waiting in this lobby for the elevator when someone walked up, got on the very elevator we were clearly and patiently waiting for, and instead of holding the doors open, she started to push the door close button before we could get on. It’s in that moment that “This Is China” echoes through your mind. Or, there is the ever common experience when you are standing 6 inches from an object in a store, deciding whether you should purchase it, and someone amazingly fits between you and that very object and decides they will purchase it in your honor (well, not really). Again, you think, “This Is China”. Then, there is the call you receive that someone is coming right now to deliver an item you really need, and they show up 4 hours later. I could go on and on and perhaps I will write a future blog with T.I.C moments as a theme, but for now I will stop a possibly endless rant.
All of this to say, China is full of surprises and challenges. Phil and I have faced many of these challenges since we have arrived. I will say though, that we wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. It has been stretching and amazing and we have only been here for 5 weeks. I know the future will hold challenges, but these first few months of an overseas move are full of so many new challenges. One of the biggest things I have learned is to keep a sense of humor and learn to move at the pace of your new country of residence. Sometimes this is easier said than done.