As we prepare to move to Beijing, I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about what to bring and what to get rid of.
I follow the advice of best-selling author and organizational guru Marie Kondo, sorting my possessions to find the ones that spark joy: gifts given by new-found friends waiting for us in China,
treasures and drawings made by my sons,
and of course my orchids, which I love.
But some of those things will have to stay behind. You see, I’m trying really hard to travel light. I want to live this experience, to take in all of the new sights, sounds (and yes, even the smells) of ex-pat China living. If I am too heavily laden with baggage, like my favorite coffee and preconceived notions of how things should be, I risk missing out on new experiences, like learning to drink tea. Expectations often lead to disappointment, and stereotypes act as barries to forming new relationships.
Instead, I want my suitcase to be filled with a sense of adventure, an open mind and lots of patience. I’ll also be bringing my strong faith and a sense of humor, packed right between the smog masks and a few good jars of face cream.
I’ll need to bring boldness to try new things, like getting on a bus even if I’m not sure where it’s going, or ordering a basket of dumplings with mystery filling.
Flexibility will help me accept changing rules, adapt to different ways of thinking and wedge myself onto the almost-full subway.
Curiosity will entice me to buy one of those little white jars and discover a new favorite yogurt drink, and nudge me out of my comfort zone to ask questions and interact with strangers.
I also want to leave room to bring some things back, like new friends, priceless memories and a tolerance for spicy foods.
Acquiring functional Mandarin skills and cute new shoes (in a size 5 1/2) would be a bonus too.
What would you bring if you were moving 8,000 miles away?