Archive for June, 2014
I was recently on campus at my Alma Mater, Rice University, and reminded of the fact that it’s been ten years, and all of my twenties, since my graduation. Cliche, but time flies.
So, fellow friends, classmates, and comrades from the class of 2004, how was your last ten years?
Did you do what you planned to do?
Did you accomplish what you wanted to accomplish?
Did you take a sharp turn? Do something completely different from your degree?
Did you get lucky? unlucky? succeed? fail?
Did you further your studies? work in a company? discover your passion?
Did you fall in love? get married? start a family?
Did you enjoy your last ten years?
My last tens years was incredible, full of unexpected twists and turns. Everything didn’t go as planned, and I unknowingly sacrificed stability for adventure, but I’ve learned so much and regret none of it. I hope my next ten years will be as fun, intense, and interesting.
One thing I like about the expat life is that it’s self selecting. Most expat communities are a village, especially the English speaking (mostly) non-married crowd. The danger is that word travels incredibly fast so you have to be on your best behavior or your reputation will supersede you. On the other hand, the inhabitants of the village are often well-traveled, adventurous, and generally interesting people. You rarely find bigoted, uneducated, or close-minded expats, the kind you want to filter out of bar conversations and cocktail parties.
I used to say that I love living in Paris because it’s the intersection of some of the coolest people in the world. While the people I’m meeting in Frankfurt aren’t as diverse (more professionals and less artist-types compared to Paris), I rarely go to a party or event with any less than five countries represented. The expat experience is a bonding one as well; we’ve all had our difficulties adjusting to new customs and cultures, though the bonding is probably stronger in a more foreign land like China or Paraguay. Besides the expat experience or traveling, however, common topics of interest could be hard to find sometime. I do miss being able to talk about Baseball or good Mexican food, both rarities in Europe.
Sometimes, I do wonder if I can keep doing this forever. One cannot be an expat in the same place for too long or one ultimately becomes an immigrant. The very nature of being an expat is the transience that comes with it. Many expats I know have returned home or settled into their new adopted country. Right now it’s hard to imagine myself staying anywhere forever, but will that change? Or can one be an expat for life? A lot of people say that starting a family is what ultimately causes one to settle down. However, I know few people who grew up in multiple countries with transient parents and they ultimately turned out all right, if not awesome. Why do many people think families have to be stationary?
I obviously don’t have the answers to these questions now. However, I feel like I’ll be answering them as I live this rather peculiar life.
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