Forty something Canadian expat in Hungary

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It seems to me that whenever I have a bit of time to write, I always start with an apology about my lack of time to write.

Expat life starts off slow and easy, life gains some speed in any country once you start establishing friends, work, support systems, and eventually you are there again, rolling at mach speed through life, down hill, gaining speed on the descent towards the inevitable. Today is the reminder to slow it down a notch, to make the time to smell the roses, because soon again, I will be working our non-stop summer.

I have finished my first year of university. And if I am honest I am a little lost… I loved every second of it. I found myself waking up every morning at 5:00am or a little after naturally with the sun and the sound of the chirping birds outside, never waiting for my alarm clock with a feeling of purpose. I would make a tea and get myself to the bottom floor, in my little basement classroom, filled with books and my things. There I would read before work, and after whenever I had time between private students. It not only filling in gaps of my day, but I found myself for the first time not searching, instead feeling content. Actual contentment. The kind you read about in those self help books or after a yoga retreat following your guru half way across the world or so I thought… I had struck the beautiful balance between work, play, family and learning.

Expats. What does that really mean anyway? I know it means ‘a person who lives outside their native country.’ But what does it really mean. A person who feels compelled to leave their place of birth to experience another. A person who is mad enough to leave all their lifelong friends, their loving family and start again walking into the unknown. The question becomes, are expats abandoning their last country, or do some feel so comfortable with who they are with such a strong grounding that moving around seems perfectly natural. Or further, take what they have learned along their crazy adventure and spread it around into other cultures? Can world peace be reached through osmosis? I wonder.

I know my views are not always mainstream or even appreciated. If I had to describe how I think, it would say; open, loving, accepting, understanding, and positive. Curious with a desire to explore, anything from customs, traditions and foods, but also how people behave in different situations which as an expat is a recommendation to master. I do notice that not everyone is always so cool about things, not everyone can let the water roll off their shoulders. I have thought a little more lately of how I effect people, because often I can make others realize that they are not so happy. And I guess I didn’t notice before how Mary Poppins can annoy even the best of us.

The truth, I am normal amounts of happy and normal amounts of sad, with bumps and bruises to show for it. I just have a different coping mechanism to smooth over the rough patches with a mild sand paper, plastering those stressful moments over from my memory and focusing on the lessons learned and moving quickly over to the planning of the future good times. I am a methodically constructed happiness advocate, who even now, who is a little lost, a little sad, I take the moment to recall all the good stuff, to remind myself that life is sweet, can be blissful and full of opportunities; we just have to open our minds to seeing them.

I got bogged down in details, those not so shiny moments in conflict and petty dramas, after all I have two teenagers, and I work with a mix of very strong and willful personalities; nut-bars, and geniuses all rolled into one. To cope I say search. In every single one of them, in every single situation, every single time; the good, the kind, and the reasons they are the way they are. Try to imagine their life, walking in their footsteps to try to understand how they got where they are. At this point of anger, frustration or sadness; what it is about yourself that makes them so confrontational or insecure or whatever they are. Why do they see things differently? Listen to them. Because what I have learned, is that it is through those I have the most conflict with, is where there is the most opportunity for personal growth and self evaluation. They have been placed on your path for a reason, a lesson to learn, and in the grand scheme of things this moment is small, however the prospect to learning can be huge. Take the time to reflect, then move along and leave it in the past.

Expat life has been fun, and I know that not everyone can leave their home. It takes an adaptability and a shift to the outside of your comfort zone to really be able to travel around, make new friends, build a new home, find new work, and to learn a new language. To rip your family roots and all just to see if they will take better to new soil, with different nutrients and many different conditions.

I find others around me sometimes dig in their heals into the opposite view point when I am around. I bet they are not even that conservative, it is just reflex to someone who lets the wind blow them in any direction. It makes them feel uncomfortable thinking people live like this. I am ok with that. I have seen the same reaction over and again, in three different countries on the faces of dozens of people. Sometimes I am a reminder of how tough change can be on a person, and they remember an experience of change that wasn’t so positive. To counteract those feeling, saying the travelling nomad lifestyles as crazy or unimaginable is easier. Instead of saying it really is not for me, they say it is against human society or that their is something terribly wrong with us. In realty, I act as a mirror to the things they never got around to. Supporting their point, they act as mirror to me, of those I have left behind.

I say, not everyone will become an expat, but we all should live, and grow, achieve and strive, learn new things and explore our planet if not through books. We should all believe in making our lives happy and interesting, to construct a life that is fulfilling and rewarding no matter how old we are. That takes knowing who you are deep down inside at the core of yourself, what you truly like and dislike and not what you think others are doing that seems cool at the time. It is like my friend who crochets. I don’t find that so cool, but she sure does! Power to her! Crochet away lady, the point is to find your true passions and make them a part of your balance.

Still pursuing happiness, Eva x.

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