10 January 2013

Temporarily at home in a new country gives new opportunities

I've now lived in four different countries and moved umpteen times. I've learned that with every large move, there are new chances. The threshold is immediately lowered with regard to trying out that something you've been thinking about for awhile. This is even more true when the move is only temporary, like studying, volunteering or short-term missionary work. And the more different your new home is from where you were, the more chance you have also of discovering and showing different parts of who you are.

A somewhat recent article about ex-pats and a couple of conversations with two volunteers (one volunteering here and the other from here volunteering in Hungary) reminded me again of the opportunity presented by going some place new. My own life has also been an example of this: being part of tons of different activities while I was at University while I had done little extra at high school, my move to Amsterdam being the perfect opportunity to look for a Christian community as new monasticism had been something I'd grown fascinated with, my move to a new apartment a few years ago being the perfect time to get a cat, and so on. 

The NRC Handelsblad from 6 October (I know I'm a bit late in publishing this!) had an interesting article about we can learn from expats. Although I found the appreciation given at the beginning of the article to having a commitmentless life to be a bit depressing, I did really appreciate the focus on how a new life in a new city brings new opportunities. To quote: "a new city challenges you to dramatically change your life" [een vreemde stad daagt je uit je leven dramatisch om te gooien], and then further, "living in a foreign land challenges you have to an attitude that is more open and more interested in getting something out of life:" [een houding die je dwingt om opener te zijn en meer uit het leven te halen]."  

It almost makes me long to start something new again, on account of all the new challenges and opportunities it brings. I do believer, however, that there is at least a much of a challenge in learning to be fully oneself in the situation one currently is in.

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