One of the most interesting things about being an expat, is meeting many nationalities. Obviously, you get immersed in the new culture of the place where you reside.. But once you are an expat, you belong to a boundless group of expats, a group bigger than you’d ever expect . Global citizens from all around the world who have something in common : home is where ever we want it to be.
After ten years in Tanzania, I claim I know something about Tanzanians. But funnily enough, I also learned a lot about the Dutch, Brits, Australians, South Africans, Americans, and I even learned something about the Belgians and myself. Not to forget : I met a handful of Servians, Peruvians, some Koreans, a lovely Taiwanese, white Kenians..
Maybe I should nuance this, maybe my knowledge is now limited to people with those nationalities but people that – just like me – had the urge to leave their place of origin. Maybe it is a special breed of people that do not wish to stay where they are, who do not think of settling in the place they were born, people who seek, search and wonder the world..
And I must say, even though being divorced was not really the way I planned my life beforehand, I do appreciate the advantages it is giving my girls. Travelling all around, they have a home on three continents and speak three languages (almost four). Regardless of how and why, new perspectives are always interesting.
For instance. I learned that the old socialist upbringing of Africans makes them lack (fear?) initiative but lets them live in solidarity – with the son earning money for his parents, and maybe even five other relatives. The Dutch are straightforward in a way that we Belgians call rude but their directness achieves a lot in business worldwide. I always found British people silly to wait in queus for the bus but their respect for tradition and society is to be admired. Australians are very chill, I love the whole « no worries and relax mate »-attitude… but not when they are late for an appointment.
And Belgians ? Most of the time, people do not even realise Belgians are Belgian, we tend to go around incognito. Generally, we are considered to be too polite and silent. And when we dó make it to the news, it is negative or downright ridiuclous. Don’t think the entire world did not witness the government-debacle. And in African context, we just got over the Congo-story..
What a pity, since we have so much to be proud of. Do you think the world out there knows we are pioneers in gastronomy, fashion, certain music genres, research and know how ?
I can go on and on.. The good, the bad, the ugly. The funny, the frustrating, the surprising, the disappointing..
But all enriching.