In The Beginning
What time is it? Every morning I asked that question, hoping for ten more minutes to squeeze my eyes shut.
Somehow these ten minutes would make up for staying up till 11 pm on a school night.
What day is this? That was always my second question, as it told me what I had to wear. Never wear pink on Friday.
I don’t know why. Some cool kid decided that if you wore pink on Friday, you were weird. Then, you didn’t wear it
So, what day IS this?
A Few Years Later
Would you live in another country for work, to further your career?
What’s the downside. You’d be away from your homeland. The language would be different. The climate might be bad. Can’t find the stores, the food is weird. Not as nice as here; too many people; not as clean.
OK! Call a wambulance!
What’s the upside? You would be living in another country. All your moving expenses would be covered. Whether by plane or ship or car, it would be a fine move. You have an income subsidy so that you live in the manner to which you have become accustomed.
Sound good so far?……There’s more…….!
You have five years to immerse yourself in the culture; it becomes a meaningful experience.
You meet wonderful new people. You are exposed to different languages and cuisine.
Shops, schools, churches, culture, everything is new.
You could never experience so radical a lifestyle change on your own.
You would be accountable for the logistics, and for solving any problems that arose with the move, at your cost.
Make sure you have a job to go to when you get there!
Can’t do that so easily in the career set-up you have.
So Here Goes!
The job gave you this. What day is this? It’s your lucky day.
You got the news at work, and “if you think this is for you, we’d like to have you onboard”. How many people would love to hear those words?
You never know what you will get out of this experience until you do it. Then, look back, and think of what you would have missed.
Immerse yourself into the customs and culture. Don’t miss out on anything.
That’s What They Did!
It’s the immigrants who take in as many sights as possible; who go to the town meetings.
They take their children to the petting zoo and buy fresh produce at the market. They try the local food and learn a new language.
Their children join cub scouts and go to public schools.
Parents check on their language progress every day.
They assimilate, even if Christmas in December is high summer.
Growing up north of the equator, my July birthday was everything a birthday should be. July is summer and no school and birthday time!
And WE Can Do This Too!
In December there was huge excitement in getting ready for Christmas……It was winter, as it should be.
South of the equator, it is winter in July.
I get that they couldn’t change the seasons, but I could not get used to Santa in a bikini.
There was no central heating but at night, it was freezing. Those three months became a dark interval.
I pouted and complained, “why is it so cold”? I was from Canada, where we are hot-house bred. I couldn’t cope with an extra sweater or hoodie.
We all have our breaking point……BUT…..
I loved the long, warm summers! I was thrilled about having this experience. It was life-altering; even my accent changed, my biggest adjustment in this whole process.
After two years, I thought my family sneakily changed their accent while I was away. They told me that I had changed, not them. They said this to confuse me, and it worked. I was confused.
My niece still pokes fun at my diction……
No, it couldn’t be me who had changed; could it?
We’re Really Here Now;
At first, you learn keywords to help you get by until you can make a sentence. Try it out! You were understood?
Whoo-hoo! You are on your way! This is a great day!
We want keywords, but be careful; friends will set you up. You will make that phrase perfect and speak to a sales clerk to try it out.
I will never forget her helpless laughter and my confusion. My friends hid behind a clothes rack.
My mother would have cried if she heard what I said.
Afterward, the teasing was merciless.
But it’s addicting and we show off our new language skills. This is more fun than you thought it would be.
Your children will be living the ultimate in education. “Is this the REAL Waterloo? WHO put this castle here? Why does everyone speak a different language?”
Growing up in a new country matures them very quickly.
Madrid/McDonald’s > Secret Code
While planning a visit to Madrid we found out we knew someone who had just returned from there.
I gathered as much information as I could from them.
Then things turned serious.
It was like a secret code: “go to the main square in downtown Madrid. With your back to the big doors on the front of the south-facing building, look straight ahead, then, 30 degrees right.
You will see a McDonald’s”!
As iconic cities go, Madrid is under-rated. Colorful flowers and tropical trees are everywhere; ancient buildings, cafes, and wonderful people.
The Mediterranean air is warm and breezy.
THIS is worth the trip!
There are winding and narrow cobblestone streets, but the main roads are wide and expansive.
It’s modern but they kept the original styles wherever possible. It rivals Paris and London.
I did not expect to be so pleasantly surprised with everything “Spain”! I could not bring myself to eat at McDonald’s in Madrid.
The advantage of travel is experiencing new food in every country. Everyone knows McDonald’s, and I am glad they are everywhere. But if I went to McDonald’s in Madrid, I would miss a meal in Spain!
This could not happen; not TODAY.
Go To Singapore!
When you move, this opens doors to see other places that were out of your reach. Now, take advantage of living in a halfway house to the far east.
Singapore is an island country, of 719 square miles. That is roughly 3.5 times the size of Washington DC.
It certainly ranks as small, and it is very high-end. Singapore is stunning and in the top three, of more millionaires, per capita, than any other place on earth!!
Once you land you are in a tropical bubble. It is on the equator, so it rains every day, and steam rises from the pavement.
Singapore is so clean!
In my country we have seagulls.
In Singapore there are peacocks on the street – showing off their plumage for all the peahens nearby.
Their feathers make a clicking sound as they shake these huge fan-of-feathers with their big blue eyes!
The locals walked by and made way for the tourists who gawked and took pictures! We danced around each other and spoke in hushed tones.
The birds had us under their control.
It was a tropical delight!
What Day Is This?
EVERY day in Singapore is National Cleanliness Day.
You can eat off of the shiny tile floors in the underground. I mean those floors are gleaming!
Walking along the streets you can sit on benches and not get dust on your clothes. It’s pristine.
This Is The Day Before Yesterday
Traveling from west to east, I experience major jet lag. When we reached Thailand, I had no idea what day it was.
Someone asked, “what time is it”? That was worth a ten-minute power nap back in the day!
Ok, so when we left the last place, the time difference was……2hours. Wait, not sure, I could be wrong about this.
If we knew the time, we would know where we are, and what day this is. We’ll find out over dinner.
Hahaha, it’s breakfast time in Bangkok……we’re in Bangkok already?
No One Leaves This Room
Leaving the far east, we flew Sabena Airlines, and they stopped to refuel in Kinshasa in the Belgian Congo.
When we landed it was straight out of a page from Raid on Entebbe.
We were asked to leave the plane and stay in the terminal till boarding time, or stay on the plane.
This is to prevent people from walking around while trucks drove up and down. And for security.
One young man, 22ish, left the plane for the terminal and later wanted to get back on the plane before boarding was called.
They refused him and he went into a panic.
He calmed down when he heard about the political connection between Belgium and Belgian Congo and why we were here.
It was a fuel stop; we were not forced to land……He watched too much TV!
Four hours later we flew into Johannesburg, South Africa. The young man was giddy with excitement as he left the plane and hugged the ground! This was his happy day; glad to be home.
What DAY is this? It’s what we make the day.
We can have the day we want; it’s in our approach.
It’s an easy decision because you can Dial-A-Day.
Make mine a PERFECT day!