It’s amazing the things that trigger emotional reactions abroad.
On Thursday I cancelled my U.S. phone number and it may sound weird, but this act was a very symbolic one for me. I have had this phone number for almost ten years; although many have been using cellular phones for much longer than that, I haven’t. Being from mountainous region in the ‘States, cell phone reception was poor enough when still living at home (additionally, it makes a teenager much easier to track 😉 ) that I didn’t get one until I moved away for college. This number was my second phone number I ever had, and now… it belongs to someone else.
I understand how trivial this all sounds.
I’ve lived abroad in several different countries but I’ve always paid to suspend my service so I could keep my phone number. This time it didn’t make sense to do so as the monthly suspension fees have increased. Honestly speaking, I didn’t even think to move to a different provider and just suspend the number through them. This is something that I am deeply regretting now, for many reasons.
Where are you going with all of this?
I no longer have a steady address, phone number, or… anything, really. I moved out of my apartment in the U.S., have sold or given away a lot of things, save a small storage unit half filled with my “irreplaceables”, and am still in the midst of a variety of frustrating visa problems which I know will be resolved, but in the meanwhile are making me feel like a hobo living out of two pieces of carry on luggage.
It all came to a head on Friday when I received an email from my mother asking if she could have my cats declawed, apparently they’ve taken to sharpening their claws on her furniture… and miniature Yorkshire Terriers. My mother’s email sounded stressed and it stressed me out; I don’t want to inconvenience her (or her twin Yorkies), and I don’t want my cats in a stressful environment either. I know they’re just cats, but honestly speaking, they’re like my children and after many years of maintaining a rather transient lifestyle, I’m seeing it is no longer as compatible with certain aspects of my life and that realization has been a hard. It has only taken a month and a half of having no address and now no stable phone number to realize this.
I’m not throwing in the towel; no worries, but I am wondering if it isn’t time to make some actual… life plans. I’m not very good at making plans, but after a night in which I shared a ½ liter of mine with… myself, I realized that it might be time. I’ve been living the life of a transient student for a decade; now I think I might be ready to start living the life of a transient… something else (I’ll let you know when I figure that out).
Right now I feel as if I’m without country. I’m an American living in Rome with a short-term work contract and am, in theory, moving to Scotland in September for my research. I don’t know what I will do after that, and that’s okay, but I have decided that I would like to not return to the ‘States afterwards, at least not for a while, and so my executive decision (for now) is to operate under the assumption that I’m not. This requires a bit of planning on my part as I’m only allowed to remain in the Schengen area for up to 90 days at a time (without some other visa arrangements) and so I will need to start planning.
I’m starting by going through the process of getting my cats “Euro-chipped” as the chip they use for animals in the ‘States is different.
I Have a Lot of Respect for Expatriates who Stay Abroad and Those that Repatriate
Choosing to live outside of the country and culture one was born into is not an easy decision, nor is it easy to actually do. It requires a lot of planning, dedication, motivation, and flexibility.When I read the stories of my fellow expat and travel bloggers I’m always so amazed to hear their stories. Learning about the decisions they make and how they made those decisions always fascinates me and I honestly hope that at some point I’m brave enough to make some of those same decisions. I think it takes a lot of self awareness and courage to do so.
On the flip side, I recently read a guest post by a lovely Scottish lass named Lynsey for Girl Gone International on her choice to not stay abroad as she had originally planned. I was impressed by the honesty in which she explained her reasons for changing these plans. Rather than staying abroad, she changed her plans from moving short-term abroad to just traveling; I think such a decision takes just as much courage, and perhaps even more self-awareness.
I think it’s easy to look at these types of life decisions from only our own perspectives. I know I’m certainly guilty of doing so in the past. Based on my own experiences, as well as those of other expats and travelers I’ve met and corresponded with, I’ve learned how unique, personal and complex these decisions are to make.
What about all of you reading this, who are you?
Are you a traveler, world wanderer, expatriate, resident in your home country?
What decisions have you made along the way and why did you make them?