LIVING ABROAD. It can sound romantic when you think of the movies or books where characters explore the world in backpacker fashion.
But there is a difference, some may say a deflation, in the realities settling into a new home that is far from your old comforts: loved ones, familiar foods, destination which Amazon Prime delivers to.
Knowing I am not passing through but trying to make roots that- for me- mean that I am staying. Not to fool myself into living out of my suitcase for a whole year. But to let myself invest in friendships here and become involved in activities that keep me coming back. I have some rhyme and reason to my days now. Monday begins my work week and I put on my business casual clothes (different from the jeans, converse and t-shirt I’m used to when working with teens) and play the classic “stop and go” game at the light with my fellow cars and motos heading to work. I go to lunch with co-workers where I still do not always know how to order…English remains second to Khmer. Tuesdays and Thursdays after work I go to language class. I have serious admiration for those in full time jobs AND school. Because after just 1.5 hours my brain usually feels like a scrambled egg.
It’s these elements that create a home for me; letting patterns and normalities form. Not in hopes of controlling my environment-not possible- rather to signify to myself that this is not transitory. I am here. Living in Cambodia.
Today I was sitting in a meeting offsite which was all in Khmer. And with little to know understanding, besides knowing the general subject matter, I have another one of those “aha” moments. I AM NOT IN AMERICA.
I am the minority: in culture, language and physical appearance. In these ways I am the abnormality rather than the norm. There is a difference, I’ve felt, between traveling and moving. I won’t wake up in another city tomorrow (most likely) and there are not as many “first” experiences in Phnom Penh as I had initially coming. There is a type of settling that’s occurred and it has required more of my courage to let myself invest in the life I am forming here. So without concrete plans after IJM, the adventure remains with the future and what is in store for me beyond tomorrow, next week or next month.