The Monty Python Approach to Expat Life

New to expat life (as an expat wife?) or simply still dealing with it? In the true spirit of Monty Python – here’s the bright side:

1. The Melting Pot Thingy
If you knock on your neighbour’s doors, you’d easily count to at least 10 nationalities. In a crowded restaurant, you’d quickly lose count. In Luxembourg, there are about 150. Blending in makes you big and small at the same time – there’s no denying it’s exciting.

2. What We Say… (melting pot related)
My children grow up to be perfectly bilingual, others to be tri- or quadrilingual. I get to shake up three languages thoroughly, getting notions of a fourth and picking up words from a couple of others. All these languages in the air, like a miniature Babylon – there’s no denying it’s fun.

3. …and What We Don’t
How do we speak if there’s no common language and how do we act if we have different sets of codes? What do we understand and what do we misunderstand? What do we all have in common and what makes us all laugh? Briefly, how do we figure each other out? There’s no denying it’s interesting.

4. Meet & Greet
You never know who you’ll meet in a melting pot. You certainly meet and mix with a crowd you never would back home, and with that you unavoidably learn, evolve and get new views. All kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds. There’s no denying it’s a good thing.

5. Geography
You get to know a new corner of the world and travel to others, and some you thought you’d never go to turn out to be ever so nice (sorry Germany, I was wrong about you). So you doubly expand your views. There’s no denying you’re in for a few geographical surprises.

6. Gobble & Munch
You’re also in a new culinary corner of the world, with a different – and in my case far better and cheaper – selection in the supermarkets. Try all the local specialties, there’s no denying you might be in for a surprise or two (like fried Mosel fish – bones & batter). Besides, some of them might be good for the occasional comfort eating session.

7. Distance
Distance can be a good thing. From the old way of seeing things, or that one way of seeing things. Whether it be how you see things or used to see things, or how people back home see things. There’s no denying it’s refreshing.

8. Culture I
You meet new cultural expressions, whether it be in music, literature, poetry, theatre, film or beaux-arts – traditional or modern. There’s no denying it can be rewarding.

9. Culture II
In the end, all this is about culture, as in what brings people in a certain place together, and the benefits of meeting and blending into a new one. There’s no denying you’re getting a wider outlook.

10. The Universal:
If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

And the list goes on – doesn’t it? But if neither a list nor smiling, dancing, singing and whistling helps, I strongly recommend a Monty Python movie. There’s no denying it’s hilarious. (And if that doesn’t help either – you must complain to the Ministry of Silly Walks.)

 

By Unni Holtedahl, January 2013

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