Thursday, 10 July 2008

The transient nature of the expat life

In Beijing expat Alan's blog he talks about this topic and he brings up a lot of points I agree with such as:

My expat experience has largely liberated me from an attachment to specific places and things. I thought it would be difficult to leave our house in New Jersey, but I've rarely thought about it. I have no idea what's in the container of belongings we have in storage, and probably wouldn't miss much if it all vanished. Walking into Nathan and Kristi's empty house was a reminder of why stuff doesn't really matter: We make the inanimate objects come to life, and not vice versa. Similarly, it reminded me that the fond feelings I have for this place are all wrapped up in the people. There was certainly no charm to those bare walls, studded with hooks where pictures once hung.

As I've noted before, expat friendships tend to form quickly and develop intensely. I haven't made this many close friends since college. All of us are in the same boat, thousands of miles away from home and generally without our extended families and old friends. Cutting loose from your past can be liberating but also a bit freaky, and the combination fuels the close friendships. We are one another's families, marking holidays, birthdays, graduations and other milestones together. And that's why it's easy to lapse into melodrama when talking about the annual departures of friends; it feels like a family's splitting up, albeit on amicable terms.

I'm sure every expat has experienced this at one time or another. It's sad but unfortunately a part of life...

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