I think the biggest misconception of expats is that we are somehow escaping or delaying life. That real life only occurs when you are enjoying the pleasures of working 9-9, paying down that mortgage, birthing and raising children, sitting in traffic and shopping at your favorite retail store for rollback savings.
Let me tell you when you live in Thailand or Ecuador or where ever of a similar nature, you are not escaping life. If anything you are seeing it in its varied raw and twitching forms. You’re closer to watching poverty day by day, and I’m not saying poverty means you are experiencing life but you are seeing something closer to death.
The ironic thing is people who know nothing about the United States think it is a dangerous place because of the crime we showcase showdown on the news and in Hollywood movies. And since I’ve never lived in a sketchy part of town, unless you count Wahiawa and a trailer park in Durango, I can’t say if these outside notions are correct.
Although I’m leaning towards – not. Talen at Land of Smiles writes about the deaths he’s witness in Thailand since living here. And when I was living in Cuenca I heard story after story of muggings from people I met and knew and even watched one myself. When I returned to Alabama to change clothes and visit family I found pure delight in not having to watch my stuff like a mother eagle watches her chicks.
To say that “real life” begins only when you are doing what everyone else thinks is living is crazy talk. If anything expats are experiencing life with all 12 senses. Or can do so more easily. Because when you are pulled out of your own culture you can’t help but see life differently. New places smell different, look different, you eat different, feel different and all this is akin to falling down the rabbit hole.
Of course you can argue that over time you will be more comfortable and complacent with your new culture but you will most likely still carry that old identity. In some countries you will never fit in no matter how long you’ve been there and in some cultures still you might fit in but still stick out.An outsiders’ perspective gives a culture its writers, comedians and artists. And expats.