What have the Jaggers been up to?
- Fixing up our place which was quite a dump upon arrival: Smells like smoke and dust. Curtains, carpets, and furniture smell the same. The white walls have lots of scratches and gross stains smattered on them. Our laundry machine didn’t work the first week we were here (a challenge when using cloth diapers and trying to wash gross curtains, etc) and the used one it was replaced with broke again yesterday…And while the place was supposed to be furnished, it more seems like the owner put the remains of a garage sale in here- many things missing or broken. This has all been very disappointing for us because we decided to pay quite a chunk of extra money to have a nice place for our transition and a place with furniture all ready to go. Instead, we’ve spent the last 2 weeks trying to get new furniture, carpet, and appliances and make the place clean enough to set Autumn on the floor without worrying she would get sick. I must say, though, that the location is peaceful and we have a great view behind us. My hay fever is not too happy about the acre of hay field lying only 50 feet behind our house.
- Surviving the tail end of a hurricane: It has been windy here, very windy. Breezes are expected, but even the locals were surprised by the 3 days of hurricane wind last week. Trying to walk around town without a car and with a wee one in a stroller was difficult, but an adventure nonetheless.
- Getting Claire adjusted and into school: Claire is doing really well considering all she has been through. It has helped to have her in school all day making friends and giving mommy some time to manage the house. It took quite awhile to find her a uniform since she is starting late and all the stores had just taken them off the racks. We finally found her grey skirt, white shirt, tights, and dark trousers up in Dundee (half an hour by bus). She looks so cute in her red sweatshirt with the school’s emblem and her little skirt when she runs off to school with Daddy each morning. She and Autumn are very excited to reunite at the end of the school day.
- Keith’s orientation. Keith is meeting some other postgraduate students and spouses. It will take a good while to make any real friends since we live so far from the city centre where most single students or those without kids live. Now and then, I’m there to meet one of them, but I’m mostly at home on the other end of the city with Auty. He has also met a handful of undergraduates at orientation gatherings. The other day he attended a champagne breakfast hosted by the Christian Union, a free lunch from the Vegan club, and a “make your own sea glass jewelry” session with the Pagan club;) He said the student center on campus has the largest bar he has ever seen and smells like the basement of a frat house….Keith has also met his advisor and is excited to get researching. I’m anxious for him to get started, but I also know it means I will see even less of him and more on my plate at home. But this is what we are here for!
- Visiting churches. We’ve really only managed to visit one church. Of the 150 attendees I think we were the only ones under 50. There was only one other child and not really any options for nursery or Sunday school so I wasn’t able to sit in the service. We hope to find some more family friendly places in the near future…It’s funny that we recently become United Methodist, but that denomination is unheard of in our location. So it looks like we will be either Episcopal or Presbyterian.
- Sleeping. The jetlag really wasn’t too bad and the girls were amazing on the flights. We had a baby bassinet on the plane for Autumn, but it wasn’t really of any help since their was a bright florescent light right over it, it was located right across from the bathroom door which was slamming shut every 3 minutes, she had to be taken out if there was any turbulence at all, and there was no way to strap her (which was scary because the sides of the bassinet were so low. The couple next to me managed to squeeze their 1 and a half year old into one though and he slept for a couple of hours. Lugging the kids through the airports and customs was the most difficult and confusing part. By the grace of God and some help from some very friendly airport personnel- we made it with all of our bag arriving in minutes! The girls adjusted to the time change in about 2 days and we have begun to let Autumn sleep through the night- letting her cry here and there, but nothing too dramatic.
How is life different here so far?
I don’t think there is too much culture shock. The shock we are facing more deals with not having a car, having no babysitters, no church community, and no actual income- so it seems to be more situational and transitional issues making life unpleasant. There are a few cultural differences though:
- People are friendly, but somewhat reserved. They seem hesitant to offer any help or hospitality. We need to initiate most conversations and go out of our way to get what we need. No locals seem too interested in getting to know us. It doesn’t help that the Chinese and Russian couples who lived her before us seemed to stick to themselves…
- Everything takes longer. Getting repairs, getting internet and phone, email correspondence…As Americans, we are so used to instant gratification that it is requiring some exercise of patience to wait on things…Because there are no dryers for washing clothes, even waiting on clean clothes seems to take longer
- There are a lot more delivery and pick up services. They will deliver and pick up laundry and groceries for a small fee and people seem to use the services. The other morning there was a van in the middle of the street beeping much like an ice cream truck would in the states, but it was offering fresh fish instead.
- Weather. It really is windy and rainy most of the time. Every now and then the sun will pop out, but it may only be 10 minutes before a rain cloud hits again. This doesn’t bother us too much other than the fact that we don’t yet have the appropriate coats and boots for such weather but we are working on it.
In general, we feel isolated. We have not had internet or TV for over 2 weeks and calling home is expensive and difficult with the time difference. Our house is much further from the school and people we have met than we imagined- compounded by the fact that we have a baby and a four year old that makes travel and late night get-togethers tough. The bus is too expensive to take frequently which was also a surprise. We live in a suburb type neighborhood surrounded by folks our parents’ age that lead quiet and private lives. Hopefully, once we get some better technology and child seats for our bikes, we will feel less isolated and alone. We know that in time the Lord will provide us with the community and fellowship we need. For now, I think He may be asking us to take more time to listen for and see Him in our daily lives and interactions however minimal they might be. Pictures and more stories to come…