The Amazing, Horrible, OMG What the F*** was I Thinking, Adventures of Life as an Expat
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Everyone has that one friend that seems to live this glamorous life. You know the one, that person always posting fabulous photos on Facebook of the amazing places she’s lived and traveled to, all the awesome adventures she’s been on, all those food pictures that just make you instantly start drooling as you stare intently into your computer screen, and all those posts proclaiming how wonderful the world is…I call bullsh*t.
The world is a beautiful place full of amazing adventures, yes, absolutely, but that’s about 10% of the story. This, right here, this is the unabashed, unplugged, actual truth of life as an expat.
Here’s what you don’t see about our seemingly glamorous carefree existence. First, we are living in a foreign country, which, I’m about to blow your mind here, I know, means EVERYTHING is foreign. Ever tried renting an apartment, setting up and paying for utilities, picking out and paying for a phone plan, or buying a car or bike in a country where you can’t speak the language and have no actual clue as to how the system works? Hard as f***. I’m talking like to the point where you just want to slam your head against the wall, or curl up in the fetal position and cry, whatever works for you. And that doesn’t even cover your basic every day needs such as buying groceries (wait, there’s an outdoor market…WHAT, where is the grocery store? And of course the perpetual, what in the world is that?), shopping (there’s no price, huh? Bargaining? What?) , and navigating the roads (seriously, these drivers are crazy! I can’t even read the road signs!).
Once we’ve coaxed ourselves out of the fetal position and realized that life must go on, it’s time to start living. That’s right, just like every other person out there we go to work, school, take care of our kids/pets (if we have them), cook dinner, and go to bed, repeat. It’s just now we have to figure out how to take this normal schedule and make it work in a new country, which makes our previously normal routine seem suddenly extremely foreign. For months it’s a struggle just to complete your normal daily schedule. We literally get nothing done except survive another week, and this, my friends, is an accomplishment. Lets cheers.
Now that we’ve finally clawed, dug, and climbed ourselves out of the hole of frustration we’ve been plopped into, we are able to start really discovering and experiencing some of the great things this new place has to offer. We’ve met other expats, some of whom have become our good friends, and with them we do cool things, like explore a local temple or discover a new hiking trail, and even some normal things, like meet for lunch, or a coffee. Life is good, you start to relax, and can now laugh about those first few months of hell you survived, and even have some war stories to share with the newcomers. You know, the whole “Oh, no, you think that’s bad, you won’t believe what happened to me…just you wait” deal. We’ve all done it, because really, we can’t make this sh*t up. The ridiculousness is real.
But guess what, even though we have survived and can finally function in a new culture, the ridiculousness just keeps coming, like a never ending tidal wave of sh*t. The air conditioner breaks, there’s a leak in the apartment, the landlord randomly decides he wants to move in and kicks you out (the fact that you’ve both signed a contract meaning nothing), you get sick and have to go to the hospital in a foreign country, and here we go all over again, frantically swimming against the current trying to stay afloat.
So amidst all of this chaotic ridiculousness, we cling on to each and every amazing moment we get to experience as expats. We celebrate our travels to majestic and beautiful places, the breathtaking views we discover, and the success of FINALLY being able to order food at a restaurant by yourself and actually receive the dish you wanted! And as our friends and family, we want you to share in our celebrations, because believe it or not we have not forgotten about you over here in our little corner of the world. In fact, sometimes we wish we were home with all of you.
We all have those days where all we want to do is go back to the life we left, but then we remember all the awesome moments this life has afforded us, and we celebrate them, because we have to. It’s what makes this life worthwhile. It’s what keeps us going day after day as we trudge through the swarm of confusion that is this magical, beautiful, frustrating, wtf is going on, life that we live.
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