Travel may well broaden the mind but upping sticks and relocating to a foreign field can blow it completely. The best laid plans may not prepare you for having the cultural rug pulled from under your feet, something that can throw the most balanced person off kilter. Becoming a novice expat is like the first day of school. All those childhood fears come flooding back. Will I fit in? Will people like me? Am I wearing the right kind of kit? Am I as good as them?
As the naïve new kids on the block, we made the classic mistake of chucking ourselves into the well-rooted and largely insular expat community that clung to the iridescent coast of Aegean Turkey. We didn’t dip our toes into the water to test the temperature. Oh no. We leapt in with eyes slammed shut, noses held and hopes raised. It was a salutary lesson in what not to do. The emigrey soap opera was, at times, a life-sapping experience and negativity stalked the smoky bars and over-crowded beaches. We spent the first six months trying to get to know people and the next six months trying to get rid of many of them. In retrospect, I don’t know why I expected a disparate group of people thrown together purely by chance to be our cup of tea. Four years down the line our burnt fingers had healed and we started to enjoy the sparkling company of a small cohort of like-minded people. As with many things in life, less is more. Ironically, just as we reserved our own corner of the playground with a hand-picked gang, we returned back to Blighty to be grown-ups again.
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