As the old saying goes….you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, right? This rings especially true when living in foreign lands. I had forgotten so many emotions and feelings that only seem to exist when I’m living abroad. Capturing and remembering those feelings/thoughts/frustrations, etc. was a big reason I even started blogging. As I sit here listening to the array of blasts out my window, I’m reminded of how deeply rooted our connections are. Not only with people but with everything really. I mean can one really imagine their life as an entirely blank slate? Living abroad is seriously like being dropped off on another planet and being told “go.” It’s complicated and so hard to capture with words alone. It’s as if you are stripped of everything familiar you know. We connect with everything. Driving. Being allowed to log on to Facebook. Fourth of July fireworks. You name it.

It’s all a connection. I feel connected here. This is home.

I remember being abroad in Japan a few years ago over the Fourth of July. It was so odd as it was just another day with business as usual. I didn’t recognize how important these traditions and events were to me until I was without them entirely. There were no BBQ’s or traffic jams to sit in heading up north. No campfires. No random firework stalls on the side of the road. I felt like I was on another planet. That feeling strikes me  quite often when I’m trying to use my make shift Mandarin with charades when trying to communicate with the Chinese. I always knew being abroad made you appreciate what you have back home. I can’t say it enough though. I really wanted to make it home in time for the 4th this time around. I just wanted to be in an environment I know. I wanted to feel included in an important day for my country. I wanted to hear the random fireworks boom out my window and see the neighborhood kids playing with their sparklers. I wanted to experience the smell of those having BBQ’s with their friends and family. I wanted to see people sporting their red, white & blue and know that I belong here too. I get it. It’s my country. It’s my home.

Happy Birthday America. You really are the land I love.


5 thoughts on “connections

  1. This is a great blog. My wife and I are moving to Shanghai later this month from Michigan (Royal Oak), so we enjoyed some of your Michigan references!!

    • OMG! What are the chances!?!?!?! I grew up in Royal Oak! Thats so amazing ~ what a small world. I promise it’s not all that bad 🙂 Please let me know if you or your wife need anything. I have WAY too much time to do research and am happy to help out. Best of luck as you make your transition.

  2. We have been getting a lot of help from previous co-workers who made the move, but thank you for the offer. We are very excited. My wife and I also did the whole Skype thing a few years ago when I was in Germany and she was still in the US while we were dating.

  3. We have been getting lots of advise from coworkers, but always are looking for more. What is the one thing you wish you could have in China that you could’ve brought with you? The reason I ask is my seatainer is being packed up on Tuesday! Another crazy coincidence is my girlfriend (now wife) ans I used to Skype when I was in Germany a few years ago and she was in the US. I feel your pain there! Keep up the awesome blog!

    • Bring any vitamin & medicine you can think of. Even if it’s something you rarely use. Any time I’ve needed anything, I’ve had to go to the doctor and get a prescription whereas here I can walk into a drug store and get a number of simple remedies over the counter. I will also be packing coffee and lots of dry goods (soup mixes, etc) when I return. I do recommend checking out If your wife is anything like me when it comes to food…she will appreciate this place. The hygiene is not quite what it is here so I’m skeptical of some of the food care/processing/etc. Fields was started by expats. There are a number of familiar brands available i.e. Dove, Pantene, Colgate, etc. We got into a furnished place with dishes, etc. provided but I am happy I brought some of my favorite kitchen pots/pans. Just nice to have what you’re familiar with. Good Luck!

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