At home in this world
The last three months have seen our family shuttle from one continent to the other. We left the coldness and winter of The Hague in December and were happily ensconced in the warmth of Cebu. The weather wasn’t always sunny, but who’s complaining? It was a beautiful time spent with close friends and family. It was also a needed transition before our move to Kuala Lumpur where we are at now.
Friends who have been living sheltered lives wonder how we do it. While it is easy to travel with young children for vacations to other countries, relocating the entire family is quite a different experience. And of course, it isn’t easy.
It is never easy to get out of one’s comfort zone. Most of our life goals are geared towards attaining a certain level of comfort and achieving the kind of contentment that gives us little to worry about and minor changes on status quo. When things are going just fine, why rock the boat?
Relocation, expatriation or moving abroad, however one wishes to call it is a conscious decision. Embracing a new way of life and culture is such a major upheaval especially when there are young children in tow. It’s like one of the tsunamis in life that we knowingly go through. Learning a new language to get your point across, choosing between international education systems best suited to your children, driving on the left side of the road as opposed to the right that you’re used to and just basically building a new life all over again. Without your supportive network and close friends, everything just becomes so overwhelming at times. But why do we choose it?
You have to have a thirst for adventure and look forward to something new. The world has so much to offer, and if you get the opportunity to live and bask in its different parts, turn your life upside down, and be delighted in all your senses, you go ahead and grab the chance. Nothing compares to the heady feeling that greets you when you arrive in a whole new country with a vibe so exciting it makes you feel like a spinning top on the universe. All your senses start to tingle and you feel alive.
Over time, your new home will totally change you and your perception of who you are. It will challenge your core beliefs and change the way you look at yourself. You will experience the magic of watching a Bali sunrise and be transported to a distant memory of a Scheveningen sunset all at once, having witnessed both in your life. If you used to shiver in disgust at the thought of eating a chicken embryo or pork blood stew, or sliding a fresh raw herring down your throat, you might change your mind on your first try, or develop a new found respect for the people who do.
It teaches you humility and it will hammer your ego to a pulp. Where you once thought that the universe spins around you, you will realize that you are nothing but a tiny speck in the entire continuum and the only thing that matters is doing good after all. It teaches you to take nothing for granted.
My children may be too young to understand but I am excited for the lives they are going to lead. When you’ve stayed long enough in a foreign country, the lines blur between where you come from and what you become. Meeting different kinds of people will strip away your prejudices and give you a different perspective on things.
In the end, isn’t that how we resolve conflicts and create a better world?