My friend and fellow blogger (and sometimes running buddy when we aren’t feeling too lazy) Becky and I were talking a few weeks ago about being an expat and what it means. We discussed the quote I mentioned way back in our Expat Blog Challenge run by my friend Cristin at In an Opal Hearted Country– friends will listen to you talk about your expat life for a minute before tuning you out- your real friends will listen for two.
We were talking about how it shouldn’t be that hard for non-expats to relate to us. In general, we’re doing exactly the same things, day in and day out, that our friends in the States (or wherever home is) are doing. A typical day for me involves getting up, getting ready for work, walking to school (which admittedly is pretty different from the long commutes some of my friends have), teaching all day, walking home, hitting up the grocery store, playing with my kids, watching some TV and going to bed. On the weekends, we might go to the rugby club, a birthday party here and there, the zoo, the water park, or just hang around, playing on the trampoline or playing with the neighbors.
Moving to a new country is a
little lot like being in a new relationship- it’s exciting and wonderful and you can’t stop talking about it. There are butterflies and adventures and ‘first times’ and you want to photograph everything… at first. And then, it’s just part of life. Our ‘at home’ friends think they can’t relate anymore because it all sounds so wonderful and so they might stop asking questions. We also forget that what we’re doing is pretty amazing and we get bogged down in the day-to-day of just living.
And then we start complaining. It’s so easy to find a million things that aren’t like at home (or my previous country). There are too many people, not enough people, the island is too small, this city is too big, everything is so expensive, I can’t find Doritos, Chinese food doesn’t taste like Chinese food, where are the damn black beans, why do I have to drive to a different store and pay $30US for a pound of bacon and DEAR GOD WHY IS IT SO HOT?!?!?
Sometimes it’s hard to remember why we do this- why we travel the world, moving every few years, having to learn new languages and customs and rules. It’s too easy to get frustrated and agitated and spend your days longing for Target and reasonably-priced bacon. So I thought this link-up, led by Amanda at Expat Life with a Double Buggy was a great way to remind myself of all the great things about being an expat.
So here’s my list of Five Things I Love About My Expat Life:
1. I love the adventure.
Each new country is an adventure- you don’t know what you’ll find or who you’ll meet. You don’t know if you’ll love it or hate it or feel sort of indifferent. When you step off the plane for the first time, you have no idea when you’ll be leaving and what memories you’ll be taking with you. It’s undeniably exciting.
2. I have changed my views on the world.
There is more to life than my little hometown and I love that I know that now. I’ll never know if I would have been happy enough, content enough if I had stayed home, but I know that I’m really very glad that I didn’t. I have seen so much, done so much and met so many fantastic people who have broadened my scope on life (for all those love-birds out there, read on-I Roam Around, Around, Around).
3. Airplanes are fun!
I don’t know if this comes from the fact that I didn’t get on an airplane until I was 17 or not but I love flying! It’s much harder now with the Ladybug and Sprout to pack for and keep track of, but I still like the whole process of traveling. Airports are exciting, planes are exciting. Knowing that you’re going somewhere, be it back home or to your expat country where people will be happy to see you. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
4. Vacations can be relaxing.
|How can you not love life with that
little face to come home to?
Well, this isn’t as true as it used to be, not with a one- and three-year old to amuse… but still, a lot of the pressure is off when we plan vacations. We can go just to relax. We get to travel a lot and it’s relatively easy and cheap, especially around the Middle East. This means that sometimes we can take a vacation just to vacate. We don’t have to worry about sight-seeing because we’ll probably be back. We could go spend three days at a hotel in Oman and not leave the hotel. Or go to Dubai and skip Ski Dubai… this time.
5. It’s a Small World After All
The international teaching community is a lot smaller than you think. It doesn’t feel that way when
we’re recruiting and battling for jobs, but truthfully, it’s a miniscule population of the world… it’s just that we’re spread out everywhere. But when you figure out that someone knows someone who knows someone- instant friendships! Or instant tour-guides. Or instant places to stay when you visit. It’s an unbelievably wonderful community that you almost have to see to believe.
It’s nice to remind myself every now and again why I love the life I’m living. That’s not to say that I forget- it’s hard to forget with my two best girls and the Rugby Star smiling at my every day. But sometimes the frustrations of expat life can get you down. It’s good to take a step back and remember why life is so amazing.
What are five things you love about your life??