How Being an Expat Has Changed Me

I will be going to visit friends and family in America at the end of this week.  It will have been a whole year away.  A whole year away from the Western World, really (save a 5-day trip to England to see a friend).

It has also been about a year since I’ve written a post.  I expected to be gallivanting around Sri Lanka and Asia and wherever else, taking clever photos and being fabulous and posting it all up here for the world to see.  Well for the most part, I have been gallivanting around being fabulous.  But I haven’t felt the need to publicize it.

I’ve changed since I moved abroad.  Being abroad is bound to change you.  I didn’t really notice it until about a week ago.  I used to be very much into being a consumer.  I loved buying stuff.  I had to have just the right workout clothes.  Just the right jeans.  Just the right shoes.  Just the right coffee table.  Just the right ottoman.  You get the point.

I was also quite particular about my food.  I went through a very strict paleo phase, where I geeked out on ingredients lists and what brands carried the most eco-whatever or antibiotic/pesticide-free-what-have-you product.  I ate beef from pasture-raised cows.  I loved organic almond milk.  Amazon Prime was my best friend. I ordered everything online.  And had it delivered to me within 2 days.

None of this exists in Sri Lanka.  You can be into consuming.  People are.  But they go to other countries to do their consuming.  Shopping trips to Dubai or Kuala Lumpur.  A weekend in Singapore to buy clothes and get the teeth done.

And there’s really no great online shopping.  No reliable way for things to be delivered.  I once ordered a HDMI cable online.  It took a week to get to my house, and the delivery guy who didn’t speak English called me 3 times to get directions.  I had to call him when I was at work so my teaching assistant could explain the directions to him for me.

Food?  Food.  Well, you can get some good ingredients.  Typically you can find decent produce.  Sometimes quality is kind of crap.  You can get “organic” produce, but it looks terrible.  Just terrible.  You wouldn’t want to eat it.  And there’s no guarantee that it’s organic.  It’s hard to find decent meat.  Every now and then you can find some kind of a steak shipped in from New Zealand.  But who knows how old it is.  Chicken is ok here.  Fish is ok.  You just can’t get excited about grocery shopping.  Not like I used to back in the States.

So I’ve changed.  I don’t get excited about grocery shopping anymore.  I don’t get excited about any kind of shopping anymore.  Because I really don’t shop very much.  I didn’t notice this until about a week ago.  I was on Instagram and started following a well-known podcaster/blogger/nutritionist lady who I used to follow back in my paleo days, but fell off the bandwagon, so stopped.

I checked out her page.  I watcher her Stories.  And I was amazed.  This is exactly how I used to be.  I’m not trying to hate on her.  This is more about me than it is about her.  It’s just that she made me realize this change in myself.  I noticed that she’s kind of obsessed with stuff.  All the products in her bathroom and where they come from and what they’re made out of and who sent them to her. All the furniture in her living room and what store she bought them from and how expensive (or not) it was.  And as a nutritionist, of course it’s part of her job to be into the food labels. What’s in this seasoning packet.  The best soy-free/gluten-free/dairy-free/bla-bla-free chocolate chips known to man.

This all made me realize that this isn’t really me anymore.  I’m not at all concerned with stuff.  Like at all.  I do love bringing back some souvenirs from my travels.  But I know I have limited space in my shipping allotment when I move, so I try to keep the stuff I collect to a minimum.  And yes, when I return from the States, I will certainly fill my suitcase with stuff I can’t get in Sri Lanka.  But I won’t go crazy.  It’s just stuff.  I’ll spend most of my money on items for my dogs that I can’t get here. Bully sticks, nylabones, glucosamine, stainless steel bowls.

I’m not sure if I’m a woman changed for life.  I’ll be moving again in June.  I don’t know where to yet.  Maybe I’ll move to a place where the consumer in me will be reignited.  Who knows.  Travel does this to you.  It changes you.  It keeps you changing.