I'm back! What with unpacking and no wifi for a week (too much effort to climb over the boxes to reach the connection!) ... I've had a longer break than expected but it's mainly because my brain has temporarily ceased to function!
I have had the privilege of living in a small community on more than one occasion. As a single, as a newlywed and with a family, both in the UK and overseas. It definitely has both huge drawbacks and huge bonuses!
Don't get me wrong. We all live within some sort of community but I mean the more limited one. One where you can't so easily pick and choose the people you spend lots of time with. One where they are 'picked' for you, whether it is because of geographical, time or language restraints ... and there aren't other friends or family a few hours drive away to escape to if you need to!
Everybody is different. That's the joy of human nature. Having all those differences in a concentrated location can be ... 'interesting'! Some people are complete extroverts, while other's need their space. Some put their family first, while others put their work first. Some hold grudges and some just let everything go. Some people choose to discipline their children in one way and some in another. Some international communities work so hard not to be offensive to any particular nationality that they create their own subculture as a result.
The list really is endless. None of those things are right and none of them are wrong. They are just differences. Differences that you learn to adapt to because the bonuses of being part of the community far outweigh the drawbacks!
The people you are with become your family. You experience the good times and the tough times, as well as the milestones together. You get to know each other a lot quicker, a lot better and a lot deeper than you would normally.
As a result, even though we've only been here for five months we already have some really good friends here. In the crazy last few weeks, we've had people come and help us unload the container, unpack boxes, cook us meals, look after the girls and put up book shelves to name just a few things. We feel really lucky to have that network in place already.
In the same way we have also had the opportunity to be there for others. Providing meals when people have been recovering from illnesses, throwing birthday lunches, taking over people's roles when they have to leave on short notice, looking after friends children for 24 hours due to unexpected hospital overnight stays (Abigail didn't complain, it was an excuse for her first sleep-over and time with one of her best friends, see below!), ... the list goes on.
Living in community, you look out for where you can support each other, you notice when something needs to be done. It can be claustrophobic at times, that's the reality of it. Yes, of course people can drive you stir crazy at times too but you stick with it and get through it because at the end of the day you are now each other's support network and you couldn't make it on your own! Yes, it can feel like a sacrifice sometimes ... but it's definitely a sacrifice worth making!