Living Abroad or Living at Home
I was driving through the village today, on the way to Scunthorpe to get Betsy a new bank account set up for university, when she asked the question, “Mum if you hadn’t gone to university and chosen to live abroad do you think you would have always lived in Broughton or somewhere close by? Would you have lived at home?” My answer was “I doubt it” to which Betsy asked “Why not? Hmmm… good question. When I stop to think it doesn’t really make sense to not have stayed local. It seems that I’m a bit Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde! I love to Live Abroad, I love to be at home. It is same same but different!
Reasons to Live Close to Home
- It means you can stay near your family and friends.
- It is comfortable to stay close to home and easy to navigate around.
- You know the good areas, the less salubrious parts when buying houses.
- You have a lifelong background on schools, nearby universities, facilities such as theatres and cinemas and so on.
- You know all the good places to eat.
- You belong to and are part of a community.
- You have knowledge of careers and jobs available to you in the region.
It seems I’ve managed this by turning Bangkok into Broughton and emulating the same life I would have done if I’d stayed. For example, family is very important to me and has always been a massive pull back to Broughton. In addition, I’m not very wild and like a routine (In Bangkok, I always shop in Tops supermarket for example); we have found an area we like to live in, (the oft mentioned Thana City); and stick there. We tend to go to the same cinema (Mega Bangna Cinema complex) or Mahidol University for Saturday concerts by the Thai Philharmonic. This regularity further fulfils the ‘reasons to stay local’ criteria and also we have a maximum of four or five places we tend to eat. The school, the athletes group and my book club basically is my community and I have learned what is on offer for me work wise in Bangkok (Not a lot when flexibility is key!)
Benefits of Living Abroad
I gave Betsy’s question some further thought. When I went to university my mum thought I’d only last a couple of weeks. Allegedly, and I’m not sure this is true, I would do anything to avoid speaking to shop assistants or strangers or anything of that ilk up to being about 25! (Fair enough really as typical introvert behaviour in my view!) I don’t think, though, it ever crossed my own mind to not stick uni out. I think I maybe got the occasional twinge for the familiarity of Scunthorpe’s shops and the treats it afforded, (the High Street was much better then), but nothing major happened. I wasn’t terribly homesick or anything like that. After uni and several months of temping work, I, along with Saint Mick (who was just Mick then and had mainly brown hair not grey – me too, come to that) backpacked extensively in Asia and Australasia. It was probably then that the idea of living and working abroad started to become attractive to me. Perhaps in my youth I must have been a bit more of a risk-taker than I realised.
But as a fifty something mum and wife, I’ve shown there is nothing very wild about our expat lifestyle!
Living abroad means:
- You can start again and leave problems behind (though we didn’t do that #justsaying!)
- You can try something completely knew and dive into a different culture. (Or in our case, probably its truer to say, paddle in the shallow end of it.)
- You have to learn how to manage the everyday in a completely alien environment without speaking the language of the locals.
- You are never bored as whilst you may end up living a pretty regular low key life there is always the option to explore something completely out of your comfort zone.
- You are continually learning something new and experiencing how people are ‘same/same but different’. There’s always something to think about.
And eventually if you stay somewhere a while, you embrace this ‘same/same but different’ as normal. Living an expat life meets the needs of both my Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde sides!
Same Same but Different
As I worked through the conundrum posed by Betsy I realised that I am easily restless and the ‘what’s it all about’ question is never far from the surface. Perhaps it’s an expat gene that we teachers abroad all have. Those with vaguely itchy feet wondering what else is ‘on offer’ can keep searching whilst simultaneously holding down well paid jobs and bringing up regular families and turn anywhere into a place that is both ‘same/same and different to home. The desire for adventure, sits alongside routine and ordinariness, though thankfully backpacking can be replaced with nice hotels and holidays in exciting neighbouring countries. It perhaps sounds exotic to tour South East Asia, but no more so than our planned trip to Scotland later this month – same/same but different. Sometimes circumstances take us home too, but that’s ok.
Lately, being back in Broughton has made me think once again about the paths that life has taken me on. I have opted to return ‘’home’ and be part of village life at the minute and it’s making me realise how I’ve never really left it. I guess it is back to the idea of it not being the place but the person that creates a sense of belonging. Right now I’m living locally, and doing the ordinary comfy stuff as regularly as I have ever done, and mid August I’ll just as easily slip back into my Bangkok routine when I’m living abroad.
Reading this back I’m not sure I’ve got to grips with Betsy’s question at all. What I’d like to claim is that although I’ve abroad for twenty plus years I’ve actually stayed local. It’s same same but different. I love living abroad but I love living at home too. What about you?