Saturday, June 05, 2010

Life, more or less ordinary

If you've been following my blog you've read a bit about life in other countries, life as an expatriate, specifically my life. A friend's blog about her family's move from Atlanta to Zurich, Switzerland has inspired me to post again after several instances of several months of radio silence. Her experience is so familiar yet so foreign to my own and I wish I could some day have the chance to sit down with her and compare notes.

I think that one reason that I've been so bad about posting is that I've stopped seeing my life here as something so noteworthy. It's normal to me and I'm less able to point out the abnormal, interesting parts for others. I did get a brief glimpse in February when I was preparing for my sister, Leah and cousin, Maura to come visit. One of the things I do automatically when preparing for a visitor from overseas is think about how they'll see and react to the various situations they'll inevitably be thrown into during their trip. How will they handle public transport? How will they react to the blatant poverty that's all around? or the disparity between the classes? or the taste of the food?...

I guess overall, I've gotten used to haggling over $0.25, the frighteningly terrible driving, the quirky greetings (Me: "Hello." ESL: "Fine, how are you?" Me: "uuh, also fine..."), the beautiful surroundings and perfect weather, the delicious and cheap produce... I've also gotten used to the very low cost of living (relatively speaking) that allows me to have things that really only the quite wealthy can afford in the US, and I've gotten used to the guilt associated with the aforementioned luxuries.

One thing that is very difficult to get used to, though, is the transient nature of the lives of expats. I've now been here for two years and in that time I've seen many of my expat friends come and go. One very good friend just left, I've gotten word that two more will be leaving in August and I will likely be following relatively shortly after. I remember talking with a friend who has been working in various embassies over the past several years, she was saying how lonely and isolating it can be, always saying goodbye and avoiding meeting new people depending on how long they plan to stay around.

On the up side, things never really get boring or predictable and I have people to visit in more or less any region of the world I could choose to go, but on the down side there's a never ending calendar of going-away parties to attend and people who used to be close enough to meet for a coffee are now on the other side of the world, but I guess it's all really part and parcel of the life that we've chosen.

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