Posted by: cousindampier | 11 February 2011

On Travel and Living Abroad

I’ve been trying to think of an angle to write about for the past few days.  That seems absurd to me because I am in another country.  There should be an enormous amount to write about here.

But the reality of working in another country is that it is much the same as home.  People go to work.  People go to sleep.  People eat lunch together.

Granted, it is different in the details.  All the people I used to talk to frequently aren’t here, and that is sad.  I’m friends with a lot of Brits – a couple are from Whitby Island (where Captain Cook was born!), two from near Manchester, two from Norwich, another from Southhampton.  I can hold a conversation in Spanish, since I work with three Chileans.  I’ve learned a lot about Cricket and Rugby.

But a lot of life is the same.  I have to get up early, and some days that is easier than others.  I’m focused on saving money.  I work a lot of hours, about 60 per week so far, and I don’t have a lot of spare time.  The food is a bit different – no Hershey, different cereal, generally a better beer selection, and fruit is markedly more expensive.

I live in a dormitory, more or less; some nights it is quieter than others.  I still generally have the same strengths and weaknesses, though I try to challenge myself on those weaknesses.  I don’t get enough sleep and follow the NBA as close as I can.

I’m not travelling right now as much as I am living abroad.  All that really means is a new context to work and run and eat and sleep in.  I am in New Zealand, and that gives me a thrill; and I am surviving, which amazes me.  I never thought I wouldn’t make it here, but I didn’t know I could make it here.

That thought – oh yeah, I’m in New Zealand – is weird.  I’m reminding myself I am here. Why should I need to do that?  It’s in a new country – and in the southern hemisphere, and I still catch myself taking a deep breath to make sure the air tastes the same.

But there is something about the adaptability of humans.  People are generally friendly and helpful.  People like being helpful – as a general rule, people like talking about themselves, and asking a person about something they care deeply about, such as where they live, gets a person to talk.

Going abroad somewhere, and really living abroad, isn’t extraordinarily difficult.  Doing so requires a certain level of outgoingness (which I didn’t know I had), of confidence in oneself, of ability to find things to do, and a certain level of excitement and curiosity about a new place.

In my case, it was the desire to go and the curiosity to know if I would be okay which drove me.

So my angle – if this is one – is that living abroad isn’t as different as I imagined.  People go abroad for many reasons, and to each person that reason is unique.  That leads to an eclectic mix of personalities. Driven by whatever reason, however, each person living abroad does so because of the desire to try and understand somewhere new.

 

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Responses

  1. Hi Abe! I love your blog! I’m glad you are “surviving” in New Zealand, but on the other hand I’m sure you have no choice. What’s the alternative? Not surviving? hahaha that’s no fun. Anyhoo, Tracey tells me you guys are working at a resort. Don’t worry. I’m not naive. I’m sure it’s not as glamorous for you guys as it is for the people staying there. At least you have something to look forward to in a few weeks–travelling! Let me know when you go bungee jumping and what you think of it. I went bungee jumping in Mexico, off the second highest bungee in Latin America. Will NEVER do it again.

  2. Hi Abe! I need to send you an email, will do so one of these days. I really like this blog post, it resonated with me a bit. Especially the part “I never thought I wouldn’t make it here, but I didn’t know I could make it here.” Felt a lot of that in Uganda too. I think going to a new place and experiencing new things makes you realize strengths (and maybe weaknesses) that you never knew you had- a lot of self discovery occurs. Sounds like you are having a good time so far though, glad everything is going ok. Do you have skype? I don’t have an account but I think Cy does- lets set up a time to chat. Hope you get to do some more traveling soon! Say hi to Tracey and don’t work too hard!


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