Last week I just turned 30, making me think about the last decade of my life. Ten years ago I was living in Adelaide, where I had lived for 20 years, but in the last ten years only two have been spent in my hometown. My first move was comparatively small, 1200 kilometres away in Canberra, but still in Australia. I lived in Canberra for four years then I moved to Seattle. All up I spent three years living in America before living in Europe. Now I have been in Belgium for more than a year, first in Leuven and now in Brussels, on nearly the exact opposite point of the globe to my city of birth.
Perhaps the most surprising thing I have found about being an expat is just how easy it is to move. Certainly getting a work permit to move to the USA was not enjoyable and living in a world where I do not speak the languages can be tiring in Belgium, but the act of moving was far easier in reality than it was in anticipation. Some cultural differencesare only skin-deep. I remember turning up in Seattle exhausted, after six weeks travelling through the Middle East. I made it to my new share house, unpacked my travel bag and rolled out my sleeping bag on the bed. The next day I turned up at work, that evening I found a supermarket and just like that I was at home. Oh, there were certainly unpleasant surprises and cultural clashes along the way, but I kept on expecting an alien dislocation that just never appeared. We left America just because our priorities are different to those valued in America, and not because of any homesickness or difficulty in living in a foreign country.
Likewise, when we left Seattle for Belgium, our visit through Australia did not feel like a home coming. Everything was familiar, of course, but there was no sense of fitting back into place. After three months living out of a suitcase in Australia, I felt more at home that first weekend in Leuven when we could unpack our bags and have a house to ourselves again. Perhaps people are just far more adaptable than they believe. Changes may be faced with trepidation, but once they arrive they are rapidly soaked up into the fabric of every day life.
hmm...i have lived in belgium so i can know the language barriers can be rather daunting..nevertheless i loved it there..and i hope to have a job like you that would make movin so easy...good article....