Once you’ve lived abroad a few years, some aspects become second nature. From dealing with culture shock to dealing with the idiosyncrasies of your host country to dealing with other expats who know it all. You see things in a different light and events that might upset you back home become opportunities to get a good laugh.
One case in point is the dinner we put on last night. We decided two weeks ago that we’d have a welcome dinner to get all the foreign teachers in Karamay together. This year brought in a new teacher from Australia and 5 teachers from Nova Scotia in Canada. The Canadian teachers are working for a government program to replicate a Nova Scotia curriculum and give students a high school diploma from Canada. From my understanding, it’s their first time living and working abroad. The Australian has two years in China under his belt. Our goal was to get together and have a good time getting to know each other, both the new teachers and the experienced teachers.
My wife spent the whole day cooking a large dinner with lots of great dishes. She even went on the internet to find some Canadian recipes. Two other teachers went out and bought food for the dinner as well. It was really a sight to behold.
30 minutes beforehand, the head of the Canadian group called to say they were tired and couldn’t make it. Sad, sad, sad because their excuse was that they were tired after time spent dealing with red tape. Little did they know that all of us have dealt with it and know it’s part of life abroad. That’s why other expats can be such a good support group when you are abroad, knowing that there are others who went through the same thing and lived to not only tell about it, but found enjoyment in it all.
Nevertheless, we all took it in stride and the running joke of the evening were the tired Canadians. We had a great time getting reacquainted with each other since we don’t see each other as much as we like to and the Australian teacher got to meet all of his neighbors. Friendships were rekindled and new ones were made. That’s really what it’s all about when it comes down to it. This personal interaction is very important in dealing with the stresses of life abroad. No one is living here who doesn’t want to be here and through the struggles, a love for this place is what we all share.
I’m hoping that we can do this again, hopefully for Thanksgiving…and hopefully the Canadians won’t still be tired.