Perhaps my last post was not exactly overflowing with positivity. Dealing with Internet companies is never fun, and trying to sort it out had me frustrated for weeks.
Except by the end it wasn’t just about the Internet anymore. It was Norway’s fault we didn’t have Internet, if Norwegians weren’t so spoiled and lazy we wouldn’t have had any problems, and clearly we were being targeted because Norwegians hate foreigners.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I’m pretty sure at least some version of those thoughts crossed my mind last month. Just a few weeks living here and I had already become a bitter expat, oh no!
Ever since high school I’ve dreamed of moving abroad, but I was never sure where I actually wanted to call home. But when I decided to move to Norway my closest friends rolled their eyes, because of course I belong here. I love Norway! And it’s true, but that’s one of the reasons I had always been a little wary of actually living here.
You see, I didn’t want to ruin my love for Norway. Because that always seems to be what happens when I move to another country. It happened in Germany, again in Japan, and again in Thailand.
While I adored my year in Germany and some of my favorite people in the world are German, I still can’t help sighing loudly when I encounter Germans on my travels, whispering to Dan that, ugh, they are so German (as if that’s a bad thing?!). And after two difficult, but in many ways enchanting years in Japan, I struggle to come up with positive things to say about the country. And while I only had wonderful experiences living in Thailand, something about life as an expat there left me feeling icky.
It makes no sense, because as expats we willing choose to leave our home countries and live somewhere else, yet I can’t count the number of times I’ve hung out with other Americans abroad and ranted about our new home. Instead of simply accepting and appreciating a new way of life, I found myself endlessly comparing my new home to the my old one, usually exaggerating how much better or worse it was, depending on my mood.
^^The most angsty photo I could find
It’s a dangerous habit. Traveling and living abroad is a wonderful way to discover new ways of life and destroy prejudices and stereotypes, but it can also offer a tempting opportunity for comparison and judgment. It’s easier to simply appreciate the differences while visiting a place temporarily, but when you’re living there and those differences have a direct effect on your life, sometimes it’s hard not to start getting judgmental – the U.S. has better produce, Germany has better bread, Japan has better customer service, Norwegians are nicer, and so on.
I know it’s an unhealthy practice and hugely unhelpful when trying to settle down in a new country, so I want to stop. I try to refrain from complaining to Dan about “how they do it in Norway” and truly appreciate all the lovely things Norway has to offer (without hating on my old life back in the U.S.).
I don’t want to forget why I moved here, or lose sight of how lucky I am to have this opportunity. That’s why this morning I went back to the post I wrote explaining why I chose to move to Norway, to remind myself of a few things I had already started to forget.
Have you ever moved to a new country? I would love to hear your advice!