1. Remember my handsome neighbor who helped me so much the day of my accident? Saturday he took one child of his, one other friend, and THREE of mine to an amusement park (a big one) by himself. I’m telling you, that guy is going straight to heaven.
2. Speaking of people who I’d like to be more like, I got a phone call the other day from a woman who goes to church with us. She speaks no English. She was calling to tell me about an activity for my boys (in the states, we have cub scouts for boys 8-12, and “activity days” for girls — here, they’re combined and it’s called “Fe en Dios”). Speaking slowly and choosing words she thought I would understand, she communicated the time, day, place, and purpose of the activity. I understood her, because of her great effort on my behalf. Would you have made that phone call, were you in her place? I can guarantee you I would not have. I have a hard time making phone calls like that on a good day to people who speak my language.
3. On that note, I’m getting increasingly annoyed about one of those “like” things on Facebook that my “friends” keep posting. I ignore a lot of moronic things on Facebook (we all do, right?) but this one that says “I should not have to press one for English. We are in the United Sates, learn the language!” really has my dander up. For one thing, it contains a comma splice (I know spelling and grammar are an afterthought in the “new media” era, but if you’re going to complain about someone else’s language skills….). But really, I just want to ask everyone who “likes” that link, “have you ever tried living in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language?” Learning a language is HARD. Language lessons are expensive. It takes time. And acting rude and frustrated does not help someone learn a language. Please, please, be patient with people. Should immigrants be trying to learn English? Yes. Should we be criticizing the pace at which they learn? Please, no. I beg for someone’s patience every day here.
4. Living abroad is such a pleasure. Some days I have big adventures — yesterday I did some serious shopping with my friend Lindsey in an area that was pure Latin America. Would have taken pictures, but it’s probably not a place you want to draw attention to yourself. Other days, I just smile at little funny things about this place — for example, the mullet is making a big comeback here. I’ll have to try to get a picture, but come one, doesn’t the idea of latino teenage boys with a mullet make you smile?
5. Heaven help me, even moving to a foreign country doesn’t get you out of being a cub scout leader. Our first pack meeting is today. I have Sam coming to den meetings to help, fulfilling some of his Boy Scout requirements (no Boy Scouts here — we’re on our own after cubs), so last week I walked out of the school after den meeting in my leader uniform (the leaders are very good about being in uniform here) with all three of my boys in their uniforms. We were very cute, or totally nerdy. Probably both. Either way, it was a picture.
6. Something I hadn’t really thought much about before we came is that when you are an ex-pat, you’re not just living in a foreign country, you’re part of an ex-pat community. Especially if your children attend an international school. We’ve met people from Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil, of course. But we’ve also met people from Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, New Zealand, South Africa, England, India, Korea, Holland, Germany, Spain and probably some other places I’m forgetting. We love it. A lot of expats have lived several places, and I often feel inexperienced and a little boring when I hear about the experiences others have had.
7. The teachers at our kids’ school are a well-traveled bunch. Many (at least half, I think) are from the U.S. Picture in your mind the young American teacher who wants to live abroad, and I bet you’ll get it just right. Some have been in the Peace Corps, many have lived in several countries, and most are bright-eyed, idealistic types. My friend Katy would call them “crunchy”. I’m pretty impressed with most of the ones I’ve met. They have amazingly small classes, and the kids have different teachers for computers, music, art, Spanish, and PE. Doesn’t that seem like a dream teaching job? We ran into a bunch of them the other night at a restaurant, where they were relaxing after a day of skiing together. Life is good for them.
It’s good for us too. Life is still life. We have busy days and stressful days. But something happens nearly every day to remind me how lucky I am.