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What did you learn during your expat years (months)?

What did you learn during your expat years (months)?

Old Oct 1st, 2008, 05:57 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2003
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What did you learn during your expat years (months)?

It has been two years since we moved to London from NJ little town of Old Bridge. In order of this "anniversary", my DH wrote a few remarks.
Here http://burlaki.com/blog/2008/10/01/l...wo-years-mark/

Hey, expats out there!
What did you learn during your years (months) of being away?

Share!

Matroskin is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2008, 06:10 AM
  #2  
 
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That once you have lived in more than one country, no matter where you end up, you will always miss some things about the other places.

Sometimes you don't appreciate exactly what you like (or dislike) about a place until you move away.
willit is online now  
Old Oct 1st, 2008, 06:17 AM
  #3  
 
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That's a very wise comment, Willit.

The saddest thing is packing up and knowing you may never see that particular home again.

The other thing is that, with luck, you will look at your home country in a different light and (with an open mind) see what you would not have seen if you hadn't left.

afterall is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2008, 06:30 AM
  #4  
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I have only Russia, USA and now UK on my list; and I do find things that I miss (or will miss) in all three countries.

Even now, when we are on the edge of moving back, I know that I'll miss my Fruit/Vegetable market which I enjoy every week simly by filling up my grocery bag.

Regarding "never see that particular home again" -- this time - no tears (maybe just for our garder with apples and berries)
Matroskin is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2008, 10:21 AM
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Matroskin and/or Burlaki,

Thanks for the memories. I made my first move over 20 years ago, to Holland. Many similarities. Two of my pages are
http://www.enjoy-europe.com/hte/chap01/europe.htm
and
http://www.enjoy-europe.com/hte/chap22/living.htm
spaarne is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2008, 10:45 AM
  #6  
 
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Er, um, Sparne, while I enjoyed the pages from your book, posting them here comes really close to advertising. That's a no-no on Fodor's.
nukesafe is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2008, 02:49 PM
  #7  
 
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5 things I learned while living in Germany:

1. You can live with a LOT less "stuff" than you ever imagined.

2. Meeting like-minded expats is a wonderful way to adjust to (and get to know) your new country.

3. Learning a new language as an adult is really difficult but extrememly rewarding.

4. Most Americans don't know how lucky they are to have back yards, gallon jugs of milk, full-size refrigerators, sinks, ovens, etc.

5. The Autobahn is awesome.
hausfrau is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2008, 03:16 PM
  #8  
 
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I leared to enjoy life more by working to live, instead of living to work.

I also learned how much I missed Mexican food!
brotherleelove2004 is online now  
Old Oct 1st, 2008, 03:31 PM
  #9  
 
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That sometimes a very small place (a tiny little French/Dutch island in this case) can be a much bigger place than some very large countries.

That people who may be very different still have many similarities no matter their bank account size or background.

That home is in your head, not where you are & no place will make you happy if you're running from anything.

There are jerks with many different accents as well as very nice people.
Carrybean is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2008, 01:33 AM
  #10  
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You nailed it, hausfrau, especially
with your #1 and #4! Every time I look at my refrigirator, I cry... BUT I also buy MUCH less groceries for our household.

Working to live!!! You got to love that, brotherleelove2004! 7 weeks of vacation days!

Matroskin is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2008, 05:09 AM
  #11  
BKP
 
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#1 You can get anything from home through the internet, old friends, or hunting it down in your new country.

#2 If you spend all of your time dreaming and scheming to get those things you can waste a lot time that would be better spent acclimating.

#3 There is no substitute for candy corn or good Mexican food.

#4 Enjoy it!
BKP is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2008, 05:29 AM
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I have a bit of a different perspective as I am European but I'm an ex pat in another European country....so fridge size or milk containers or Mexican food aren't really an issue.

I've been an ex pat in Brussels for almost 7 years.

Things I have learned

Don't stress over slow service

Be thankful for the 5 star "free" healthcare that I can avail of

Money has not the greatest impact on standard of living (over a certain basic amount of course )

Learn as many languages as possible

Be as polite as possible in your daily life
Lawchick is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2008, 05:36 AM
  #13  
 
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Sometimes you never go back to your home country.
kleeblatt is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2008, 06:31 AM
  #14  
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Another one:

When you do go back, people often treat you like a foreigner (maybe because of your style of clothes or points of view).
Matroskin is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2008, 09:51 AM
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nukesafe, I don't believe posting a link to a non-commercial blog site comes anywhere close to advertising. People post links to externally hosted photos and trip reports all the time and I've never once seen any of the board moderators complain! Of course, if the blog were really just a marketing front for a commercial product or service, that would be different, but it doesn't seem to be the case here.

In terms of response to the original question, I'd definitely agree with Willit. Totally nailed it, IMO.
Kavey is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2008, 11:46 AM
  #16  
 
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That was my point, Kavey, the links take you to teaser chapters of Spaarne's book, complete with links to how to order the entire book through Amazon.com. I didn't want to make a big point of this, because both of the linked book chapters are rather relevant to the OP's question.

I would think, however, that cutting and pasting the chapter contents to this thread would have been responsive without the danger of being thought tainted by self interest.
nukesafe is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2008, 06:34 PM
  #17  
 
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I think I'll make a living list here, as things pop into my head, but first and foremost, I learned not to dwell on what's better or what's worse than my home country, but celebrate the differences, and be able to laugh at them.

EXCEPT, I do have to say, my experiences with the healthcare systems in England and France (where I lived at different times) from my home country (U.S.) were very, very, very positive.

And I really, really liked having 4 weeks vacation in England, which is still something (after being employed at the same job for 17 years) that I lack here in the U.S.
Surfergirl is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2008, 07:35 PM
  #18  
 
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Matroskin - if you want to move back to Old Bridge, it's a good time to buy, lol!! Thanks for sharing your expat thoughts. I've never spent more than 5 weeks at one time in a foreign country, but, even then, I have culture shock when I return.
amp322 is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2008, 07:51 PM
  #19  
 
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Shoot, the most important thing I learned that I completely forgot about was that until the time I first moved to France, I spent my life watching other people live. I even had a bumper sticker on my car that read "All the world is watching the U.S. and all the U.S. is watching television."

I spent so much time reading, I had no time to live. Then I read a book about the Merry Pranksters while I was traveling, and read the line, "you're either on the bus or off the bus". Coupled with a line I remembered from "Goodbye Columbus" (where Neil called himself a "liver" as opposed to a planner, to which Brenda retorted: "I'm a pancreas!"):

I learned to live!
Surfergirl is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2008, 08:45 PM
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I quickly learned the difference between "needs" and "wants"! There were LOTS of things I wanted, but only a fraction of those I really needed. When push came to shove, or more accurately, when the suitcases got too full - I learned to make do just fine with only the "needs!"
Grcxx3 is offline  

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