The biggest gift of living abroad
Our time in Chicago is slowly coming to an end. The move ahead triggers many thoughts about living abroad and the repatriation process ahead. While the United States has not been my first time living in a foreign country it’s the longest time I have spent abroad in one place. Chicago has become a real home for me and I will dearly miss it. Friends and family back home remind me of what I am gaining when moving back but I realized there is one gift, expatriation gave to us: The missing of a routine.
While living abroad, even the most boring activity seems to be interesting. Three years in Chicago and riding the bus is still an adventure. I love to observe the people around me and watch how they communicate with one another. Whether I am in the role of the observer or I am jumping right in and interact, it’s so different from the daily commute I used to have back in Germany where all I did was starring at my book or my phone.
Same with the supermarket. Grocery shopping is still kind of fun and every time there are new highlights. Americans know how to celebrate the seasons. In autumn, every item has added pumpkin slice now, no matter if it’s coffee, cereals, or cake. In winter, you can go crazy about Christmas decoration and even in summer every month has its own theme.
So even typical daily work tasks feel special and there is always something to discover or to marvel at. That’s why the biggest joy of expatriation is the missing routine for me. I know from experience, that repatriation (moving back) will also bring this gift along – at least for the first few weeks. You start to re-disover your favorite groceries you missed so much. You will be astonished again by the typical culture traits of your own country that you forgot about.
By leaving Chicago, I am packing up this precious gift of living abroad and will take along with me before it reaches it’s expiration date. Even after three years I do not see this expiration date coming anytime soon but I can imagine that routines are sneaking into our lives over night without us noticing. I am sure we have already established our routines beneath the surface and that is what will make it challenging for us to go back and fit into a new way of life again. However, expatriation taught me how to prepare our mindset for the unpredictable. The right mindset is the core part for adopting to a new environment with curious eyes and an open heart (I have covered that in depth in my workbook for expat partners).
So in that sense: I am rolling up my sleeves and looking forward to anything that is ahead of us with a smile on my face.
What do you feel about the normal routine in your life? Would you agree with me? Do you also celebrate the missing routine as much as I do or can’t you wait to go back? Let me know in the comments below 🙂 If you haven’t already sign-up to the Share-the-Love Newsletter to not miss out on new posts or follow along on Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
Thank you Kate. This is very interesting regarding our lives day by day. I practice mindfulness and you describe it. W find many benefits at paying real attention
to what is happening now, and stop the automatisms .