As I'm sitting here in font of the pristine Mediterranean sea, the count down has slowly begun. 6 weeks in Europe are coming to an end. 6 unforgettable weeks with friends and family in my native Denmark, our adoptive Belgium and my husband's native Italy. There were also a few days for me in the UK and in Lithuania but you get the picture. Tour d'Europe. Europe in all its splendour, variety, multiculturalism, multi-linguism, rain, sun, forest, city, beach. The Europe we left 7 months ago for a 4 year posting in Beijing. During our summer in Europe, I've lost count of how many people (understandably enough) have asked me "what's it like to live in China?". With time, my reply became sort of a standard reply: "well it's very interesting. Fascinating. Another world! The first 2-3 months were tough and there are still challenging moments but all in all it's a positive experience". And that IS pretty much what it's like. But as we return in 3 days time, how does that general reply translate into concrete things? And what have we missed about Beijing?
1) Our cat (ok this is not necessarily in order of priority :-)).
Our cat Pumba came with us to Beijing from Belgium in December and she's stayed in our apartment Beijing this summer. She's being looked after by our Ayi (house help) and by our Danish friend Janni. Yes we're looking forward to cuddling Pumba again!
2) Friends and acquaintances.
You don't make friends over night. It takes time for both kids and grown-ups but there are certainly people in Beijing we're looking forward to seeing again! We look forward to catching up! Many of our Beijing friends have been away from China on vacation like us and many will be in the exact same situation as us and perhaps (at least temporarily) re-live the culture shock most of us experienced when we first moved to China. I like the thought of us supporting eachother when the blue moments arrive.
3) Everyday life.
Holidays are wonderful! But they're somehow not reality. Reality is the everyday life that awaits us and we feel rather positive about getting back into the daily routine. Work, school, language course, sightseeing on the weekends, social gatherings etc. I should, however, specify that only 2 out of our 3 kids are looking forward to going back to school - and back to Beijing!
4) The unknown.
Yes, we have a daily routine like most people but it's still very hard to predict what our life will look like over the next few months/years. Which adventures (and challenges) lie ahead, where life leads us and how we will manage to integrate in China. So call me crazy but I love the unknown. I love what I'm still to explore. So bring it on Beijing!
6 months into our Beijing adventure the kids and I have left for Europe for the summer. 6 weeks altogether. A true European summer that will take me to Belgium, Denmark, England, Lithuania and Italy (where our daddy will join us).
It's the first time in years that I'm able to take 6 weeks off (one of the advantages of being on leave from my job) so I wanted to make the most of it.
Things I've done since I arrived in Europe (and that I had really missed):
Yes luckily friends, family, goats cheese and fresh air is only a (long haul) flight away. Watch this space for what I'll be missing in Beijing in a few weeks and how I feel about going back to China.