Surviving the first year of expatriation

2012 April 25

We writers express ourselves in the best medium we know how, through words.  Straightforward, laced, metaphors, riddles and poetry, they come in all forms.  White spaces are canvasses to those brimming thoughts swirling in our heads, blinking cursors and inks of all kinds are the brushes that give life to the words percolating and bubbling over in our heads, screaming to be unleashed.

Writing is cathartic for me, and I sometimes forget that what I write does affect others too.  A worried phone call from far away in the wee hours one morning, understandably over something I wrote, led me to take the silent road for a while and embark on a much-needed introspection.

Moving a family and a marriage abroad has been a great challenge.  Everybody thinks that expatriation sounds so exciting and adventurous.  It is easy to underestimate the difficulty of settling into a new life in a new country.  Major ups and downs have put our marriage to several tests, and setbacks have made us question the choices that have been made.

Identity issues and staying at home have been quite challenging situations to grapple with for expat wives as well.

On top of all that, there are no shortages of disheartening encounters: rules and policies that sometimes don’t make sense, excuses for bad services hiding behind bureaucracies, unreasonable persons and a string of bad experiences enough to send us packing our bags.

Being duped and manipulated by people to further their own agenda almost made me give up my faith in humanity and unscrew my steadfast belief in the inherent goodness of human beings. How do we cope with the madness that sometimes engulf our lives?

There are days you wake up to, wishing that you could fall back in sleep right away, hoping that when you open your eyes once again it’s going to be another brand new day.   Yet you still have to get out of bed and carry on with a bright smile and a happy face before the children, because it is unfair to pass on that kind of insecurity to them.

As with all obstacles we face, nothing lasts forever.  No bad situation is permanent.  If we ride it out long enough, hold on tight, grin and bear it, albeit not without a lot of screaming and fighting and doors slamming, any uncomfortable condition too shall pass.

Resolution comes.  Things have a way of sorting themselves out sometimes when we’re lucky.  In other cases, the small actions you take to make the situation better are rewarded in the end.  In worst cases, even if things take awhile or hardly improve, human beings are equipped with built-in mechanisms that make us adapt or learn to make peace with the things we cannot change.

It has been a year since we moved to Kuala Lumpur.  Some kind of normalcy has settled upon what was once a big mass of upheaval and I’m hearing the birds chirping on sunny mornings once more.

These days, I look out the window and see the leaves dancing breezily from the branches of the trees and wonder in awe what a lovely day it’s turning out to be.  Beautiful days have always been here all along.  Sometimes we just fail to notice them because we’re too caught up in the drama encircling our human existence. But there’s no use being hard on our selves for being grumpy at times.

What matters is that we’re still here standing. We managed to step over some great hurdles and more are certainly forthcoming.  But having survived those, which were thrown our way, only makes us stronger and better equipped with whatever is in store because we held on tight when things got rough.

In the meantime, happy days are here again.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. April 27, 2012

    So glad to hear you got over the first year hump – indeed one even when we expecting it, slaps us in the face! Good for you. Upwards and onwards my dear – the birds remind us all the time :)!

  2. malou permalink
    April 26, 2012


  3. malou permalink
    April 26, 2012


  4. Arnout permalink
    April 26, 2012


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