Sunday, February 7, 2010

Things I learned from living abroad

Patience – I learned to be much more patient in dealing with others. There are just too many cultural differences out here to assume that everyone will do what you expect. Or that when they say something (like “I’ll have it done in an hour”) that it’ll mean the same thing (like they’ll be here in an hour)

Charades – Sometimes the best way to get past a language barrier is to act it out. I (point to self) want (smile and nod) some binders (open and close hands like a book) (more nodding and smiling). In fact this has become such a big part of the way I talk that I find myself acting things out even when whomever I am talking to understands what I am saying perfectly.

Defensive driving – Need a crash course in defensive driving? Come drive here for a week and you’ll be set for life. It is you against the world out here and add to that that everyone is driving close to (or way over) 100mph and you learn real quick how to keep your eyes open and get out of the way. I also learned how to cut off taxis. But they started it.

Equality – We (Americans) might have a long way to go when it comes to equality and treating people fairly but oooh boy have we sure made some progress. It’s not the locals I refer to but just about everyone putting everyone else into a box.

Friends - There are people out there living in the world with the same interests as you and the same likes and dislikes. They talk similarly and just seem to "get" you. I have realized that you can find friends just about anywhere. I know I did! Of course I found the very best ones that could have been found.

Same same but different – We all basically have the same agenda same goals in life. There are things that cross all cultures and all religions. Loving family and food on the table come to mind.

Stereotypes – These are hard to over come and it’s amazing how quickly people decide things about someone else based on very little knowledge -like nationality. I have had to work hard not to give in to this as I think it’s human nature when meeting people from so many cultural backgrounds to want to figure them out before you know them. But I refuse to let a few decide (whether good or bad) how I feel about or treat many.

Passport – When abroad this thing is more valuable than it’s weight in gold. Guard it accordingly and know your rights. It is unlawful for someone to hold your passport so that you don’t have access to it. If you have any doubts or concerns call your embassy. Trust me it works.

Healthcare – Dang it’s good to have healthcare and it’s even better to have affordable medication. If you ever want to know what that feels like then head on over.

Coke is better – I heard it was because of the sugar they use or maybe it’s that you can buy it in glass bottles but it is so good here and just what you want on a hot day.

Acclimating – People are adaptive. I had no idea just how adaptive I could be until I moved here. Take for example that really 110° just isn’t that big a deal to me anymore. Yeah I don’t look forward to it but really I don’t notice it much when out weather gets that hot. Now 30° is just plain scary! I have no idea what that feels like anymore and when I was back home last winter I practically froze! I was cold ALL THE TIME!

Self respect – Like I talked about in my previous post I gained a lot of self respect here and I am a better person for it. Looks don’t last forever but respecting your self does.

Ambiance – One thing I may never have again is a view of the aqua blue sea with swaying palm trees, a nice breeze and a beach spread out before me as I eat my dinner. There is definitely beauty in this desert.

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