Living abroad, life seemed so much more dramatic and starker than in my home country. At first, our time abroad seemed like a fairy tale. My family and I escaped the restrictions of life in our native land, the US, during the Great Recession. While our extended family and American friends, it seemed, were suffering through the hardest economic times in the United States since the 1930s, we were safely working in and exploring countries that were thriving economically.
Our fears of living in the Middle East were so exaggerated, the misunderstandings and culture clashes were truly comedic. In performing the routine tasks of grocery shopping, ordering food, getting haircuts, overcoming stereotypes, communicating clearly, we had many amusing experiences.
Yet after a time, the fairy tales and the comedies turned to tragedies, as colleagues were shockingly fired, deported and/or jailed for outrageous “offenses” and we ourselves encountered real dangers. Most tragic of all, three colleagues lost their lives far before their time to leave this mortal coil. One wonders if this would have happened if they had remained in their home countries.
Does this mean that living abroad is too risky? I don’t think so. The temptation to over-generalize is great. Certainly one should not take unnecessary risks.But neither should one be so afraid that one fails to seize opportunities and new adventures.
Before I lived abroad, when a drive-by shooting occurred in my home country, or a sudden and untimely death, murder, imprisonment of someone with whom I had crossed paths, or a house fire in close proximity to my home, or when colleagues were unfairly fired, I certainly did not over-generalize that this reflected life in America, although an expat from another country might have rationally done so.
Writing Prompt: In every country, if you keep your eyes open, and if you study national and local history, you will observe fairy tales, comedies, and tragedies. What are some fairy tales, comedies and tragedies you observed while living or studying abroad?