Saturday, November 11, 2006

Jessica's Expat Kind of Day

If you're an expat (or even if you're not) I think you should read An Expat Kind of Day by Jessica. I've just recently discovered her blog and love the way she observes everyday events as an expat in Switzerland.

When we first moved from Canada to Amsterdam I remember laughing when we had to register our family at the "Aliens Police". Me an 'alien'?? How absurd! I didn't realise at the time how often I would truly feel like an alien over the next dozen years or so of my life as an expat. But I have felt that way many times, probably even daily. I find my moods changing so quickly sometimes. I wake up so perfectly content to be right where I am that I pinch myself, but within the hour I experience a deep rooted homesickness when I open my last tin of my favourite Canadian coffee.

It's hard. Damn hard. Feeling like everyone is staring at you because you don't know the routine, you don't know the customs, you don't know the ropes. And you can't explain what you want, what you need, what you saw, because you can't speak the language. And who can you turn to for support? Your family is thousands of miles away, and the one expat you made friends with has moved away. You often feel completely alone.

The only way to save your sanity is to maintain your sense of humour. Learn to laugh at your mistakes. Smile at those who stare at you. Roll your eyes when you goof up. Say "So what?" all day long. And blog.

4 comments:

Ginnie said...

Thank you, T1, for being raw/honest with these emotions and for the link to Jessica's blog. I did read every word from both of you. I like your last paragraph because laughing at ourselves IS what maintains our sanity. In the larger scheme of things, our snafus are nothing! And our loneliness is so much better than the suffering of so many around the world. That's not to minimize the pain of our aloneless but to put it in perspective.

So glad you have P!

Nomad said...

You said it...when all our friends at home would die to do what we are doing...thay have no idea how hard it is to be outside of the "loop" and without friends and family, even just the normal comfort zone of our life and culture, ...I have never had a better lesson in the realities of the grass is always greener...or is it? But we are still here, it is worth it but I hear you loud and clear...

christina said...

Yep. You know, even if you eventually do "get" the culture and the language, you still feel the same way inside sometimes. I experience that roller coaster of emotions all the time. And you're so right, Kim, laughter (AND blogging for SURE) really IS the best medicine.

Jessica Brogan said...

I really like your response to my blog here. I couldn't have said it so well. Laughing is a great way...so is yelling I found. After a week of deep thinking I realized that part of my utter loneliness is the way that every time i make the slightest complaint, my man comes back with a "look on the bright side" comment. I start to keep it all in, and think I'm crazy! Then, yesterday, I let loose (in a cafe FULL of people). I started yelling, not so much at him, but about how if he never supported me in feeling things were bad or crazy or annoying, then i felt ALL alone and a whiner. So today, we had a little bitch fest. and that felt good!