Thursday, August 26, 2010

Foreign Living...

I really love living the expat life. I love going to places that most people view as exotic or strange for a visit, never mind to live. I love that my life seems out of the ordinary to them (when, in fact, it is quite ordinary but just in a different location). I love that the people I work with are like-minded to me and share so many of the same ideals and sense of adventure. I love that I am constantly challenged to learn new things, to adjust my thought processes and to become a little less ethnocentric in each place I visit and live in.
When I moved to Korea, I thought that I wouldn't survive it. I had an odd little apartment in a strange neighbourhood that had more cockroaches than I could shake a fist at (and I did shake my fist at them... often). There were weird smells that took my breath away in a bad way and yummy smells that did the same thing in a good way. But in Korea, I could get by quite easily as a foreigner with just a few phrases of Korean that helped me shop or direct taxis.
When I moved to Oman, the need to learn the language was less immediate than in Korea as most everyone spoke some English and it was easy to be there. The strange smells were few and far between (unless you counted the smell of something dead in my kitchen drain when I first moved there... *shudder*) and the yummy smells were more prominent. It was hotter, bt dryer and simply, easy.
The move to the US might have the hardest for me of all. Sure, there were no real language barriers (unless you counted my Canuck pronunciation of several words) but there were many more cultural differences that were harder to swallow since I looked like I could belong, I spoke the language fluently and I was from just up north. But it was still fairly easy to get along for the most part.
Now, I've moved to Turkey. I adore the history and what I know of the culture and the food. I find it easy to like being here, but I MUST learn the language. I can already direct a taxi for the most part and can ask simple questions, but the need to be fluent here is much more immediate than any other place I've been. Less people speak English here and even though they are inclined to help you to the best of their ability, without shared communication, it is hard for them and disappointing for both. So for the first time that I've lived anywhere, I feel an urgency to be able to communicate well. This is good. It's a new challenge and pleasure in foreign living!

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