Thursday, 4 April 2013

Strange things expats do: Always make comparisons between countries

Philadelphia Flower Show 2013 - Cheshire Cat
Being an expat or living in another country can do strange things to your brain.

Even after beginning to craft a life and routine in my new home country, I'm still making comparisons. The comparisons between old and new, between cultures, of "if my life was there, it'd be one way" but "if my life is here, it'll be different in these ways".

These comparisons define an expat's life in many ways. Comparing cultures is what makes living in a different country so fascinating and exciting. If I wasn't comparing life in the USA to life in the UK there'd be no glad blog for a start!

But sometimes comparisons can get in the way. I still find myself getting stuck when there's an element of US society or culture that is very strange to me, or different to how I think it should be. I often have to stop and consider whether I feel that way because it's really something I feel could be improved, or if it's just because the culture is different. I have a go-to assumption that what I experienced back in the UK is right or better, but that's often because it's just what I know.

If I'm always on alert, always comparing elements of US culture to UK culture, am I getting too stuck in thinking about how my life would be if I was still living in the UK? Or am I embracing the differences between the two countries?

One of the best pieces of advice I received from a friend before I made the move was this:
Remember, you're not leaving one continent for another. You're just opening a door on a wider, more vibrant, transcontinental life. Be sure to recognize cultural differences and embrace them for what they are.
I try to remind myself just to go with the flow whenever I'm stuck at an intersection instead of a roundabout or eating pizza instead of meat pie.

Someone beat me to it and started a new expat blog link-up! This post is part of the brand new monthly Expat Diaries, linking up blogs about expattery and travel. It's the first blog link-up I've taken part in and I'm looking forward to finding more expat bloggers this way.

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