The Honeymoon Is Over

Yes, as predicted, the honeymoon is over. What?  You didn’t realize that first part was the good part?  Ok, there will be more good stuff, I assure you, but first Team Erickson has to get through the wonderful stages of culture shock!  Anyone who has lived abroad (or moved anywhere, most likely) can tell you about the stages of culture shock. First, everything is new and wonderful. Things are different, but they are exotic. Those differences are strange in a way that surprises you but what the kids would call a “good surprise”. Sadly, this stage only lasts for a while and then you move toward frustration. This is where most of us here at chez Erickson happen to be right now. Mark has had more time in China and he has adjusted more than the rest of us. The kids and I…well, we are feeling done with Shanghai. I have done this moving thing before, so I know that it will pass. The kids are not convinced. They miss their friends and schools and the familiar routines of “home”. They don’t like to hear that this is going to be home for a while or that things will get easier. They can only see today and how it feels right now to be here in China and to wish you were somewhere else. I understand, because right now I would be tempted to head back to the States. Today, I am missing my kitchen, Target, and the ease of American grocery stores. I am missing my friends and thinking about how much easier things would be if we packed up ran to the airport. But I know this will pass. I know we will all get used to China and eventually this will all feel so familiar that we can’t imagine not living here. “What if that never happens?” Lucas asks me as he begs to stay home from school for no apparent reason. I reassure them all that it will and that this part right now is the hardest part. Unfortunately, I also know that at least one more big negative swing will be coming up again. So I am kind of lying. It is like riding a roller coaster, but you can’t see where the dips are. You can’t prepare for the highs or the lows. It will even out, but we have to get through this part first. People give you advice. They tell you to “change your attitude!” and “keep trying new things!”. Someone the other day even said that she thought moving abroad was so much easier with children! Ha. Ha. There is this built in community, you see, and you are forced to interact with people because of your kids. I know this to be absolutely untrue. Being in Shanghai with the kids is great, but it is also exhausting. I am having culture shock for four instead of just one and I might have to drag them kicking and screaming through this part. Wish us luck.

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