Well, the big day is finally here. We fly out to Beijing in the morning. We've been building up to this for a long time now, so I'm more relieved than anything that it's finally happening. Of course, Michelle did virtually all of the work prepping for the move, so it didn't seem so hard to me. :) In particular, I was gone two of the last four weeks including last week when the movers came (plus Michelle had to sell the Prius since I didn't get the job done before I left.)
Perhaps the hardest part for me was the realization how many friends we're leaving here in Seattle. Of course, we'll be back a lot (especially me), and we're not moving away forever, but I certainly feel silly for not having spent more time seeing friends the 18+ years I lived here. I really enjoyed all of the nice gestures, comments, and gifts our friends gave us in these final few weeks (like the B(ac)on Voyage Party!) So a word of advice to everyone: don't take your friends for granted. Spend time going out, hanging out, doing whatever with your friends. Make a play date today!
As we've talked to friends these past few weeks there have been a few common questions, so here are a few answers to these FAQs:
- We're planning on being gone three years. More if we like it. Fewer if we don't.
- We're not selling or renting our house in Bellevue. I'll stay here when I'm home (pretty frequently). Michelle and the boys will spend the summer here. It made moving a lot easier physically and emotionally.
- Michelle quit her job at Microsoft. Everyone we talked to said it was super helpful to have one spouse not working to help get the family settled. She may work after we're set.
- The boys will be going to an international school in Beijing. Chinese schools are way too hardcore with lots of rote memorization, plus the boys don't speak enough Chinese to really participate. The school is amazing (way better equipped than their current schools). Classes are conducted in English; they'll have an hour of Chinese language instruction a day.
- We'll be living in a house in the Shunyi suburb, near the airport. The house is comparable in size to our place in Bellevue. The yard is tiny/non-existent, although there is a clubhouse with nice amenities plus some great restaurants and shops within easy walking distance. The alternatives (apartment in the city) were too far from the boys' school.
- My commute will be 45-60 minutes each way, but I'll have a driver, so I'll be able to work, read, nap, whatever. This long commute is the tradeoff for living close to the boys' school.
- We'll be living in temp housing for 30-45 days (or so) until our sea shipment arrives with our furniture. This apartment will be in the city, on the east side of town (sort of near Chaoyang Park, where they played beach volleyball in the Olympics.)
- I speak Chinese conversationally well, but I don't read/write well at all. Michelle took a few years of Chinese when we were first married; she's a bit rusty now but she has a good ear for it. The boys don't really speak any Chinese at all and will need to learn.
- We've switched our home phone to Vonage, allowing us to keep our US phone number. This way, our friends and family can make a US call, but the phone will ring in Beijing. Our calls via this line will be US calls as well. Kind of magical and cool, really.
- Yes, we're concerned about air quality. At the advice of many people we bought IQAir air purifiers for each bedroom and one for the family room. We'll just have to keep an eye on how it affects us.
- I think we'll be drinking imported milk (from Australia typically) for a while.
Anyway, I'll write more over the next few days. See you on the other side!