Recently we learned that we are about to become expats. I'm not the first (or even second or third) generation of expats in my family so I am, luckily, not terribly upset about moving overseas. I'm also not terribly excited, although perhaps I should be. Overall, I have a feeling of trepidation. I think my biggest fear is just that I will forget to do something on my list, lose a form or the movers will break something I treasure.
The funny thing about being an expatriate is that you almost forget who you are and the things you love. A large part of this is leaving behind hobbies that were your entire life, a perfect example for us would be horses. Instead of replacing old interests, you're just putting them on hold until you can return to your old self.
A friend of mine just returned to the States after being an expat in Italy for two years. She said that something that I thought very poignant. Even though your time overseas is a relatively short period, it leaves an indelible mark on your character and perspective. We've been living in the South in various places for six years now and honestly I've felt like an expat here. I didn't understand some of the idioms or some of the customs, I tried fried chicken for the first time (I can hear my mother lecturing me on fried foods), I ate grits (I still don't get these) and I even caught my husband saying, "y'all" once.
I've met a lot of really interesting people. For every person who was terribly mean because I'm not a local, there were two that were funny, kind and wonderful to get to know. I hope that I'll be able to keep some of the friends I've made. I know for people who don't move a lot, their experience comprises of their daily interactions, so not being local means not existing for many. But when your whole life is on the move, you treasure relationships.
When I started blogging, a blogger friend said something about how a blog is a highly personal account, sharing yourself and your experience with the world. I can't help but think that my tastes are probably going to change. The nature of my blog may change as I explore regional architecture. I've spent some time over there before. And luckily, in college I spent a couple semesters studying Japanese art history and architecture with a professor who does a lot of work with Met. So as a result, I'm really good at faking the accent. Hopefully I'll pick up the language quickly so I don't seem like this SNL skit for these next several years.