The other day one of the people Expatclic started following on Twitter wrote us and asked: “When is the last time you did something new?”. I wanted to answer: “This morning, but also yesterday, the day before yesterday, last week, and almost every day in the last months”. Then I felt a bit embarrassed. The same feeling I get when people ask me: “Where have you lived?”. I know that by listing all of the countries I have spent parts of my life in, puts them somehow in awe (it also makes me feel a bit old 🙂 ). Same with languages. When people ask me: “How many languages do you speak?”, I feel ill at ease, because I know it is not very common to speak six languages. And as to excuse myself, I always add that I have completely forgotten my Portuguese, and that my German is very, very rusted. Still, most of the time they react like I were a kind of phenomenon, which makes me understand how distant my life can seem to many people’s eyes.
The question of that person on Twitter triggered a lot of reflections. On one side, I started thinking of all the actual new things I have tried recently. And they are really a lot. When you relocate, you find yourself into a specific process, without really stopping every day to take stock of all you learn and discover. But when someone asks you something as easy as when did you last do something new, you realize it is a lot. Definitely much more than your peers back home. I have tried several new dishes. I have visited places that I did not even suspect existed. I took a plane to go and see a doctor. I did an MRI to the shoulder. I learned how to drive on the left! I am learning a new language (I have to remember to put that on my list 🙂 ). I read 6 new books from the beginning of the year. I started a new online course. I learned how to use a new meeting software, and how to bind pages properly. I learned how to train children in cross-cultural communication. I tried coffee cupping, reflexology and traditional massage. I went to a TedX talk! Not to mention all the new people I have met, and the little details of daily life that I come across with and don’t even realize I do. I could probably go on.
The point is that I am so used to try and discover new things, that it does not strike as important or exceptional to me any more. But a simple question is enough to make me realize how rich my life is, and also that what I see as common in my life, is definitely not common for most people. Certainly not for those who have never spent a period of their life abroad and enjoyed this sometimes painful but absolutely intoxicating process. I am asked over and over again if I like living abroad, and I obviously always say yes. Oftentimes, though, I find it very difficult to convey the deep excitement, the real meaning, the adrenaline and positive energy that comes from this international life. I hope this post will help a bit.