In her most recent post, Chickster from Up, Up, and Awayz (http://www.upupandawayz.com/2012/05/its-awards-season.html) awarded me with the Liebster Award. Thanks so much, Chickster!
The Liebster Award is for blogs with under 200 followers and has no standing rules; but she has asked that I follow the guidelines from the Versatile Blogger Award and post 7 things about myself. So, I’m going to post the 7 things that I find most entertaining about being an expat.
7. Bon Voyage! Over the last four years I’ve spent a lot of time on airplanes and in airports. While this certainly has its disadvantages (see #4) there are also certain benefits to being a constant international traveler. For one thing, I do it really well, I know exactly what to expect on long flights and I am always prepared; my on board carry-on bag has been perfected, I know exactly what I will need to be wearing in order to be comfortable on a plane for 12+ hours (don’t wear jeans, NEVER wear jeans), I am aware of what my entertainment options are on board…sometimes I plan it. Okay, so I will watch Dirty Dancing and then Pretty Woman. Second of all, I know airports. For instance, I know that if I have a really long layover at the Amsterdam airport that they have spas that I can use (seriously, this is one of the best things ever, what better way to spend a five hour layover than getting a massage and facial). I know that if I am flying internationally out of Los Angeles that I will want to eat ahead of time because the international terminal is tiny – there are like three places to buy food and last time I paid 12 (that’s right, 12) dollars for a turkey sandwich that was totally average. This may sound silly, but seriously, knowing what lies ahead on long journeys can go a long way in making them more comfortable.
6. The Timbuktu Clause. Another thing that entertains me about being an expat is that a lot of your friends and family back home don’t really know where you live. For instance, when I lived in New Zealand, if any natural disaster happened anywhere in the ring of fire, I would immediately get emails from people asking if I was okay. There could be a typhoon in Fiji and people would want to make sure we still had electricity. Here in France, everyone just assumes that I live in Paris.
“So, you live in Paris, that is so cool!”
“What? No, I just told you, I live in Grenoble.”
“So tell me about your life…in Paris.”
It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I explain that I live in Grenoble, people still ask me about my fabulous life in Paris.
5. This is not real. You remember that night five years ago when you got completely wasted with all your friends and your boss and you decided to streak through the neighborhood? Great if you do, but no one else will because they weren’t there. One of the great things about being an expat is that embarrassing stories from your past don’t haunt you in your current life. This also means that you can convince yourself that your new embarrassing stories won’t haunt you in your future life (this is particularly helpful if you do not know how long you will be staying in the country). Did you embarrass yourself in front of someone you were interested in? Did you mess up and get a horrible reprimand at work? Did you split your pants open at a restaurant? None of this matters because as an expat you can just shrug and tell yourself that it isn’t real life, this isn’t really where you live, right? It is one of the most brilliant (and untrue) expat rationalizations.
4. Travel Traumas. Now you may be wondering why I would find traumatic traveling situations entertaining, and while they are happening they are not. However, afterwards, they usually make for hilarious stories and you get to wear your survival like a badge of honor. When MB had to bribe a security officer to be allowed to leave Chad it was scary but afterwards it made for a great story and totally upped his street cred (that’s right, my fiancé how to bribe corrupt government officials, what can your fiancé do?). When I left my passport on a bus bench and missed my flight to the Philippines it was decidedly un-funny, as crying at the airport usually is (http://breadispain.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/jamais-deux-sans-trois/). How does someone forget their passport on a bus bench, you ask? A valid question. I was using it to fan myself because it was hot outside and I didn’t want my makeup to melt off. That’s right, I ended up losing the single most important travel document that any person in the world has for the sake of my vanity. Proud moment? Not really…but damn funny story later.
3. Party favor. Another great thing about living the expat life is that you always have plenty of interesting small talk. An expat never has to have that awkward conversation at dinner parties when you get stuck talking to someone with whom you have nothing in common.
“So, you work in HR? That’s cool. I actually know someone who…um…also works in HR.”
“Oh really, what are the chances?”
“So um, how do you know Tom and Sally?”
“Tom works with me…you know, in HR.”
DEAR GOD. We have all been there and it is awful. As an expat, you never have to endure this. If you are at a party overseas, people will be curious to know how your experience has been in their country and how you are liking it; and if you are back in your home country people will be curious to know what it was like living overseas. Never again will you have to feign interest in a golfing story.
2. Sweet Little Lies. Because I am evil, I also think one of the funniest things about living the expat life is that you can make up all sorts of stuff and no one will ever be able to call you on it (unless they have lived in the country that you are spreading lies about – awkward). For example, just last night two Scottish expats spent ten minutes trying to convince me that haggis was an animal with three legs. Anyone from Scotland would think this was hilarious but there are probably a few foreigners out there who would totally believe it. This is, without a doubt, one of the things that amuses me most about being an expat because…well, because it is fun to mess with people (there, I said it). By the way, have I told you about Drop Bears? (http://australianmuseum.net.au/Drop-Bear)
1. Cool looking passport. There is really not much else to say. It is a vain, self-congratulatory sort of thing but it is true. I LOVE having a full passport, I love flipping through it and seeing all the stamps of the places I’ve been to; it drums up a lot of great memories and stories but it also makes me feel unbelievably cool, I shamefacedly admit it.
And there you have it, the top 7 things that I find entertaining about being an expat!