Just because you move to a different country doesn’t mean you no longer have to go to the bathroom. Or eat, or do all the other mundane things that make up our lives. And there is all that practical stuff too, buying food, filling up cars with gas, parking, and for Rebecca all the strangeness of handling a new nursing job in a different country. Thankfully the human body and its diseases are the same here as everywhere else, but apparently everything else having to do with nursing has different terminology and different ways of doing things.
Some of these initial days are hard. Some days I feel good and love it here and some days it kind of gets to me: trying to figure what kind of car to buy, making it in and out of that supermarket parking lot safely, buying food somewhere and then the next day finding a place where you could have bought it for half as much, with no Internet yet at home trying to send documents, mailing a letter, figuring out what to eat, not having a washer or dryer and dirty clothes piling up, not room for everything in the tiny two room place, the cold damp little place itself we’re living in, just to drive someplace I still have to think, to concentrate, when I’m alone at night leaving the TV on just to have voices in the background like having a fire at night alone in the wilderness just to have company. I know these aren’t big problems (and I’m a bit dramatic, huh?) but some of these first days they just seem to add up. And everyone talking in a different language—I know it’s English—but some days you just feel strange, out-of-place, an outsider. Some days it’s an effort just to handle everything that’s new and different. I just want to relax.
It’s different than being on vacation. Rebecca and I were sitting down by the wharf having a beer and fish and chips. I thought, “This is truly beautiful here.” But unlike a vacation, I’m not going home. I live here now. That is both exciting and at the same time a bit scary.
You don’t really know what a new country is like until you live there. Some people visit or have friends and family in a place before moving there. That wasn’t our lot. Whatever you thought it would be like, it’s going to be different.
People here ask us, “Why did you come here?” It’s like those same people back in the US who asked, “Why are you going there?” But sometimes Rebecca and I do look at each other and ask ourselves “Why are we here?”
Also it seems like we’ve made so many decisions so fast. Selling the house, cars and flying off. Maybe it has been a little too fast and too quick. What are running away from or what are we running towards? I sometimes wish there was one of us to punch the this-is-getting-too-crazy button. But we keep going. And being forced to make so many decisions quickly back in the States, we continue to make them quickly here too. Buy that? Okay, I’ll take it. Do this? Done. Move here? Alright. Sometimes I am not sure whether we’ll survive this or just burn up like asteroids entering the atmosphere.
But you aren’t doing anything different or new in your life if it doesn’t feel slightly uncomfortable. Or to say the same thing a different way, if you don’t feel out of sorts (as they might say here), you wouldn’t be doing anything fresh or new now, would you? And aside from having a great adventure, in the big picture of things I believe this is all good for us, our brains having to figure out and adjust to all the strangeness and different rules. Some deep secret part of me likes it that I don’t have my same routines and my same comfortableness with things. Neuronal connections are firing where they haven’t for years. New information is being processed in my brain and old memory bank vaults are being opened up and the new stuff stored there. I imagine if you did PET scans of our brains here these first few days, they would be lit up like Christmas trees with red, green, blue and yellow lights scintillating in places that had been quiescent and dark for years.