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Archive for the ‘Expats’ Category

… and Arrivals

My good friends Tom and Betty just returned to their Swedish second home a couple of weeks ago. They split their time every year between Stockholm and Wisconsin and have certainly become role models for me with regard to living as an expat. As we switched positions last week– me coming to Wisconsin, them heading off to Europe– I found myself a little envious. Sure, I’ll be back to the Netherlands soon and Sweden only a little while after that, but they have Sweden now! Sigh. Lucky.

I got an email from Tom about a week after they arrived– a little update for friends and family about his first week back in his “Svenska Hem.” He always hits the ground running, catching up with old friends, seeking out previously unexplored spots in the city, starting up speaking Swedish from the moment he steps off the plane. Of course, they’ve been doing this back-and-forth for more than half a decade, but I’m just filled with admiration! It always takes me a few days (sometimes weeks) to remember how to live in the Netherlands or Wisconsin when I make the transition. It’s a bit easier coming West, because I have more friends to call and more favorite spots to check out. But still I always feel like I just don’t fit in immediately upon arrival– the city changes, friends have their own lives and things have continued on without me since I’ve been gone.

Maybe part of the problem is that I think too much about how I fit into the lives of the people and places around me. I set myself up as the traveler being reintroduced, trying to pick up where I left off. Maybe Tom’s excels at the transition because he focuses on how the things going on around him fit into his life. With regard to the comings and goings of expat life (or any sort of nomadic living), perhaps it’s important to remember than where ever you go you are the common denominator.

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