Many times I have seen people talking about "Initializing..." state of Sync. Here I am trying to share some information which may be helpful for you to understand this better.
When you activate Sync in your catalog, it starts working with your local catalog database and www.photoshop.com to calculate what all needs to be synced. So here comes different variables which may lead to longer time for this calculation. When Sync-Engine does all this work, it shows the state as "Initializing...". Now lets see what all variables are involved in this:
1. Internet connection
2. Availability of Catalog Database (Is catalog free or in-use by other processes like Face Recognition, Auto-Analysis etc)
3. How big is your www.photoshop.com account? More files/albums/tags you have in your www.photoshop.com account, it will take more time but not every time. It takes maximum time when you start Sync or you restart SyncAgent.
4. Few other exceptions when Server is busy etc...
Hope all this will give a sense how it works and why it takes time. I will be happy to share more for your specific queries.
*** NOTE : Overall Sync is fast in PSE8 as compared to PSE7. There are two patches for 7th release of Photoshop Elements : 7.0.2 and 7.0.3 . Adobe has tried to improve overall performance of Sync in 7.0.3.