Friday, November 25, 2011

The Dark Side of Being Abroad

Being abroad is supposed to be exciting and wonderful, all of the time. (At least that is what I hear from people when I am home- "that must be so cool!")

Aside from the whole missing family so bad it hurts sometime- especially when you loose a family member and are too far away to get back quickly- or have to judge who you would go in debt by flying back to bury.

It isn't easy.

Thanksgiving even more so- because it is one of those American holidays where you are usually with family, but unless you get so much vacation that you can go home for a month (which, would be theoretically possible as I have 26 days of vacation, but companies usually frown upon you taking it alll at once). Yet the day goes by here like it isn't a day for families to get together and overstuff and be grateful at all. Mostly because it isn't.

This weekend I will try to find the energy and time amidst all of the cleaning and preparing for giving back the old apartment and making this one more our own to make a turkey and a green bean casserole- because it helps with the pang of being gone during this time of year.

Yet, there is another dark side to being abroad. Yes, your brain and cultural knowledge has expanded from your intercultural relationships and knowledge of the language and the culture, but somewhere along the line you understand both sides to such an extent that you exist in the gap in the middle.

Living in this "gap" means that you aren't really at home in either culture, though. And that is hard. Example: Germans are more reserved, and Americans are more open and share more personal information- with everyone. As a result, I share less than Americans would, yet more than Germans would- meaning that I sometimes come across as too reserved in American culture and still too "share-y" (Mitteilungsbed├╝rftig) in German culture- which can give the impression that you want to be friends with everyone and everyone uses the Du (informal you) and it is hard to discern if it is out of disrespect or a result of this cultural difference.

The gap is lonely.

But I can't stop being me- I'm "share-y". (Hence the blog, people.)
And all in all, I am thankful that I live here in a culture that I feel (mostly) at home in and with a Broom I adore. The fact that people here get so much maternity leave means that there could possibly be a Thanksgiving at home in my horizon.

Happy Turkey Day.