Outside of home country and home comforts

street view

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.


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