Friday, October 02, 2015


Life as an Expat is  challenging.  It pushes you to do things that in your normal life you might not do. When we first moved here, really even before we moved here, I had figured out how many days we would be here.  I was thinking about how I would get from one home visit to the next.  It wasn't long after we got here that I realized that this thinking would not work, that is no way to live.  This has to be home, at least while we are here.  That means making our apartment a home not just a place to be while we are here.  It means making friends, not just for the Tiny American but for me as well.  It means becoming involved in my community in some way.

I recently read a book for a book club I participate in that was about making friends and cultivating those friendships into long lasting relationships.  It talked about that over the course of months and then years putting in the time, making yourself available and vulnerable will result in a friendship that will stand the test of time.  When you are an Expat you don't have months and years to cultivate these relationships.  People come and go in your Expat community.  You often have to accelerate the available and vulnerable part because you feel like you are falling apart and need someone who has been in exactly the same place emotionally to help prop you up.

When your husband goes to work and you are left alone in an unfamiliar country where you don't speak the language or understand the rules you find yourself doing things that you would not normally do in your other life.  For example there is little to no chance that I would agree to meet up with a random person on Facebook that commented on a post I made on a community message board back in Texas.  I would definitely not agree to have that person pick the Tiny American and I up in her vehicle and drive off tho who knows where.  But HERE it's different.  I looked at her Facebook page, she looked harmless enough, she was American AND she knew where the grocery store was.  Fortunately it turned out that she was NOT a serial killer, she is just a mom like me and had been new to this whole thing just like me.  She is a wealth of information and has turned out to be a really good friend.

In my other life I would never walk up to a random person at the grocery store or a restaurant and invite them to hang out, that is so not me.  I wouldn't go as far as to say I am a social butterfly but recently I noticed an American mom, close to my age, but most importantly with a little boy that looked to be about the same age as the Tiny American.  She was minding her own business at Starbucks when I approached her and asked if she wanted to hang out.  In my other life that might come off as desperate or weird, but  here it is survival.  Tiny and I both need other people to talk to and interact with.  I am so glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and spoke to her.  Her little boy turned out to just be a few days older than the Tiny American and they play great together.

What I am learning from this experience is that we do all need friends. One of the things the author of this book pointed out was that some people will say they don't need friends, that they are ok without them because that is easier than being rejected by putting yourself out there.  This is so true for me.  I have always been pretty guarded with people not allowing myself to be vulnerable.  What I am learning from this experience is that when you are in an Expat situation that doesn't really work.  You DO need friends.  When you take away all that is familiar and remove even idle conversations that you have at Walmart or the bank or with the waitress at your favorite coffee shop, you feel isolated and lonely.  You have to reach out and sometimes you might get rejected, but chances are the person you reach out to is feeling some very similar feelings as you. You have to be vulnerable, but chances are it will pay off.


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