Friday, July 5, 2013

Six Weeks Until We Depart to China

We are certainly feeling the pressure now.  We have our plane tickets and our passports, but we are still waiting for the Chinese Foreign Experts Bureau to issue the paperwork needed to apply for our visas.  Apparently, it's a bit complicated since I need to apply for a work visa and then later turn that work visa into a permanent resident card.  Eleven months is a long time to be in China and there is no formal visa for that length of stay.  Stacie and the children will have visas that are "under" my work visa.  I'm not sure how it all works to be honest.

These kids are surprisingly good at the fruits and vegetables.  I may have them do some shopping for me in China (not alone of course).

It was quite complicated completing the paperwork needed for their expert bureau.  They wanted Stacie and I to submit results of a physical examination, an eye examination, a chest x-ray, blood work, xerox copies of all our passports, my vitae, and a photograph of my doctoral diploma.  We have most of our shots done, but are still in need of a few last minute ones. 

At this point, as we wait for the opportunity to apply for our visas here at the Chinese embassy in Washington D.C., we are busily making lists of things we need to bring with us and practicing our Chinese.  For those of you who don't know much about Mandarin, it is an incredibly difficult language.  There are five different tones and the tone influences the meaning of the word.  I frequently find myself thinking I recognize a word and then realize that I know that word, but in a different tone.  It's really hard for me to "tune" in to the what is being said most of the time.   I do take some comfort in knowing we can get by with minimal Chinese skills as this was primarily what I did when I was in Changsha last summer, but I would really like to take the opportunity to learn more Chinese and to exercise some courage when I get over there next month.  My wife, myself, and my children are all utilizing various study aids, such as computer software (Fluenz program), flashcards, textbooks and workbooks from my Mandarin I class at SUU last year, music cds with Chinese songs, and movies with Mandarin subtitles.

It's still hard to believe that we are going to be gone for nearly a year.  This is going to be such a wonderful experience for our family.  I really hope it gives my children the opportunity to see that life is different outside of the United States and that there are wonderful and not so wonderful elements of our own culture here and also in China.

It's pretty cheap when you only need one.  Taking five children abroad certainly complicates things a bit.