Travels and changes

How much can change in six years? Well, it turns out pretty much everything. Hair colour (used to be kind of brown-and-blonde, now obnoxious red over far too much grey), goals (didn’t really have anything specific in mind other than ‘travel’ and ‘have adventures’, now aiming for early retirement somewhere warm with a farm and a goat), hobbies (used to be dancing at every opportunity, now brewing tropical ciders in my broom cupboard and tropical compost in my garden) and a host of other superficial and more profound things.

A younger me in pursuit of adventures. Shortly pre-CELTA

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How to move to a new country #2: hit the ground running

New culture, new horizons

New culture, new horizons The Grand Mosque, Muscat

The month since the last, ‘How to…’ has been spent merrily travelling around Vietnam whilst waiting on all the official paperwork for the move to Oman, a totally new part of the world for me.

As I described in last month’s, “Before the leap,” post, it was possible to get preparations for the move underway well in advance. However, a number of others things could only begin once I arrived. Those are the meat of this post.
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It’s Life, Jim, but not as we know it

Recent conversations:

Me (M): “Ummm, there’s this job going in Burma that looks quite interesting. Lots of training, and it’s in that bizarre new city that they’ve built as the capital but no one lives there yet. Whaddya reckon?”

Wonderboy (W): “Hmm, could be good. Let’s keep an eye on it. What about this university job in Ho Chi Minh City? We liked Vietnam when we visited. All that fresh fruit and veg.”

M: Yeah, that’s definitely one to keep in mind. There’s a half decent job going in Hanoi, too.

W: I don’t think we’d like the weather in Hanoi.

M: There’s a brilliant job going in Cali, starts January. It’s perfect for us and I’ve always wanted to go back to Colombia!

W: No, even with the Delta, it’ll be a bit too soon to go back to South America. Let’s keep looking in Asia.

M: Yes, and I can keep my fingers crossed for the Pyongyang job to come up again.

W: You and Pyongyang. I just don’t get it.

M: Anyway, let’s see what’s going…

M&W: … after the Delta!

Yes. These are extracts from what constitute real conversations in my household. Five years after I jetted out from Heathrow to Mexico with a vague intention of travelling, doing a bit of light teaching here and there if I wanted to stay somewhere a while, and doing my best to make it twelve good months out of the country in the wake of the election that got my job abolished, teaching has become my career and travelling is the name of the game.

September 25th has rolled around again and prompted me to take stock this time not only of the past year, but of the five years since I left home and set my sails for the horizon. More

Oh, the places we’ll go.

Or, adventures in expatting (verb, intransitive – the habit of living in countries that aren’t one’s own).

Booyah, Shakespeare, I just invented a word, too.

Or so I thought. This is a verb that has been hovering on the edge of my consciousness for a while, but it wasn’t until I idly looked it up to discover a raft of references in the Urban Dictionary that I realised why I feel part of neither one world or another. Even the wryly humorous term expatbagger (see note) seems to me to refer to someone who moved to one different country and then returned to their home country, rather than someone who left their original country, has travelled around and lived in a couple of others, and just hasn’t gone back home yet. In my current place of residence there are a high number of transient, short-term contractors passing through in a similar manner to me, but this is an exception. In previous places I’ve found myself part of a community who have moved in and stayed long-term. So what should I call myself that would fit the bill? More

Feathered friends

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