Living abroad can be interesting. And exciting. And frustrating. Not a day goes by where I don’t feel lonely, a bit lost, and frankly, kind of dumb.
Consider making friends. This can be difficult when you’ve grown used to being transient. Is it really worthwhile investing energy in a relationship when you know you’re leaving in a little while? Will you be able to build a memorable friendship in such a short time?
Or consider freedom. I am currently waiting for the Polish government to grant my residency permit. It’s been 11 months so far. During this period of limbo, I am not allowed to do things such as get a driver’s license or leave the country. Do you want to go home and see your family? Too bad. Do you want to rent a car for a weekend getaway with your wife? Too bad.
Or consider language. I’ve been learning Polish for about a year now, albeit slowly. This is a very difficult language and I’m not particularly gifted when it comes to spoken languages. Programming languages come easy to me (read: I’m probably a robot), but spoken languages present great difficulty. As such, when people here ask me questions, I feel, well, really quite stupid. As if an educated adult cannot answer a simple question.
But this is not an essay on the topic of complaining. After all, I’m here by choice. My wife was accepted to a medical school here and I choose to support her in that.
And there is much to learn in accepting these frustrations. It is worthwhile investing in friendships, even if you know they may be temporary. After all, you don’t need to know someone for a lifetime to learn from them. Or to be there for them.
And maybe being stuck in Poland is not so bad. She has forests and mountains, seas and fresh air. And the beer… 🍻
And perhaps the language is good for me. Sure, it is immensely challenging, but I suppose exercising your mind is a positive thing. Did you know the word for “coffee” changes depending on whether you like it, dislike it, or want it with something? That just makes sense, right?
I think the best way to appreciate life here is to embrace the challenges. To cherish the friendships. To be patient. And to understand that things may not always work out the way I think they should.
It’s probably time to get back to learning the language.