• Shanghai Expat Assoc

Life in the Time of COVID-19 - Part Two

This is part two in a series of articles about how our members, both in Shanghai and abroad, are coping with life in Shanghai during COVID-19.




New opportunities

by Holly Royce Cole


The coronavirus scare hit while we were in Phuket, and since then I have spent most of my time thinking about and planning for immediate next steps: how long do we stay, how do we access medical care, how to stock up on supplies, and how to motivate the kids in their e-learning.


My husband, who is the “big picture” one in our marriage, shared my concerns but also saw potential opportunities. We were stuck in a tropical paradise, so why not take advantage of it? While I was fretting over e-learning, he was making plans for surf school, treks to remote islands, and Thai language and cooking classes. Ultimately, we left Thailand for the US before we could execute these plans. However, we have tried to seek out opportunities while we are back in the US. We are signing the kids up for sports they weren’t able to do in Shanghai (notably, softball for my daughter, track and field for my son). We are planning road trips that we didn’t have enough time for last summer. We are teaching my oldest to drive, which also requires me learning to manage a manual transmission (yes we Americans don’t necessarily learn that as a rite of passage). We are replanting a garden that my daughter had to abandon when we moved to China. My husband had a knee surgery he had been putting off. Okay this last one wasn’t fun, but we figured he wouldn’t be having it in Shanghai anytime soon.


As my husband prepares to return to Shanghai, this opportunity-seeking mindset will be more important than ever for us as a family. It keeps me moving forward during this uncertain time, instead of feeling like I am treading water and being merely a crisis manager. Now I’m going to go find myself a knitting class, which I have been meaning to do for two years.


Holly Royce Cole is a former lawyer and mother to three, hailing most recently from Wichita, Kansas, USA. She is on her second expat assignment to Shanghai. She spends her time in Shanghai learning Mandarin, attempting Chinese cooking, and exploring the city. She is a member of the SEA General Board and co-chair of the Day Trips Committee.

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