Cross that off the bucket list-publish book. When we moved to Shanghai in 2013, I started a blog to stay in touch with family and record our adventures. It grew into a daily rhythm to capture the craziness that was our daily life in China. Soon, people from around the world started reaching out to me for advice: Where can I get dog food? Should I bring my own mattress or buy one there? Where should I live if I have kids? Is the pollution really bad? Why yes, it is. Now you know. The lungs don’t lie. Buy a mask and wear it.
When my transfer details were finally worked out and I accepted the offer, I immediately went online and looked for blogs or books to get a feel for what our new normal would feel like. I would be a female executive navigating through the Chinese business world while Thom adjusted to being a trailing spouse. I was disappointed to only find guide books primarily aimed at tourists. I was going to become a local expat and needed a source of truth to turn to that would help guide me through all the unexpected challenges from walking down the street without getting run over (truly a challenge daily!) to opening a bank account and being surprised they still used an abacus to conduct transactions. WTF.
We relied on our Chinese tutor, Fiona, to guide us through many obstacles and just explored through fearless curiosity daily in our quest to not live in the typical expat bubble and instead venture out into the real China. Daily we learned and as our confidence grew, Thom took off on a bike to explore and take beautiful photos and I jumped on the bullet train to commute to Beijing and Nanjing for work on a regular basis.
As a result, our blog posts and photos chronicled a journey that few folks get to take. Those that are lucky enough to live in China can use our lessons learned to adjust quickly and with less pain than we went through at times. Not that we didn’t love living there because we did. We would walk down the Bund, climb the Great Wall (4x) and pinch ourselves. “We live in China!” It never got old and we miss our life and the people there. The pollution, not so much.
Pulling these stories all together after we returned home to Seattle was Thom’s year-long journey. Who knew it was so hard to edit a book? I swear every time we thought we had all the spacing, spelling and template formatting just the way we wanted it, we found more opportunities to improve and had to change it. FINALLY, we hit the button and made my frustrated inner writer very, very happy when Seattle to Shanghai and Back Again: Our Year as Expats in China became a reality.
Will anyone read it? Maybe. My mom will. The aunt of a guy I met at a friend’s party who just moved to Shanghai to work for Intel will. Who knows, maybe other people? Making money and world publishing dominance was never the impetus for writing this book. Sharing our adventures, recounting our tales so our granddaughter, Mia, will know that her GiGi and NaiNai were crazy world travelers while she was just being born as well as helping other expats adjust to life in China were the main objectives so we are happy. Back in Seattle, we are always looking for the next adventure. A vacation to Ireland is coming up soon and then possible work travel to India and Europe. Would we move abroad again? You never know. Life is short.
“Seattle to Shanghai and Back Again: Our Year as Expats in China” is available here-looks best in color versions vs. Kindle b/w due to photos:
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC46Dht4h7e7Tebgx6Ri9tMA
Other blogs on WordPress: https://alleyesonshanghai.com/2016/03/24/seattle-to-shanghai-and-back-again/