real quick: actually Googled and debated how to spell the non-existent word that is my title. I’m nothing if not thorough.
Living abroad is hard. At least, it is for me. I’m sure there are people who can hop on a plane and revel in new customs with nary a thought of the familiarity they left behind. Those people are saints, or more likely they’re liars.
Living abroad is exhausting. I am tired, some days, from doing nothing more than navigating the city I’m in. This weekend, a friend and I were in Tbilisi and had this conversation:
Me: Please talk to this taxi driver. I don’t want to figure it out.
Her: Oh, but you know more words. I’ll take the next one.
Me: *immense sigh* Ugh. Fiiiine.
Because sometimes it really is that intimidating. There are days when all I want is to hide. There are days when even Skyping friends is so much effort that when I hear the call ringing through my laptop speakers, I cringe.
Some days I hide in my room and feel guilty for not socializing with my family, or walking in the city, or at least going to sit in one of the parks I’m lucky enough to have near my house. And then I think of how little Kartuli I know, and how little English my family knows, and how little I want to play charades, or be stared at, or be accosted with ‘hello!’ and I stay in my room. I want to relax, I reason. I want to watch some NCIS, or paint my nails, or sneak my Pringles chips without interruption. **this never happens without interruption. case in point: my host mother just came in my room to tell me I am a pretty, good girl, and hug me.** But I feel like I cannot relax in my room–I feel guilt from not seizing every second of every day.
I am not alone in this. I’ve talked to other friends here who feel the same way. This weekend, sitting in our hotel in Tbilisi, Brittany and I kept defending our decision not to do any exploring, even though we were perfectly content with a very chill weekend. And we need to stop pushing ourselves so hard to experience everything so quickly. Living abroad is different from vacationing abroad. We have time! Not a lot of it, but enough that it’s okay to take a weekend off from heavy traveling. Kick your feet up! Soak in a nice view! Go shopping, and not for souvenirs. Have a spa day. Carve out a life here–and the locals aren’t going to every spot on the map at the first chance they get. So take a page from that book and don’t feel guilty when you want a break. To quote one of my co-teachers, who is extremely worried that I am pushing myself too hard (I am sick a lot in this country) “Mari, we are not robots. We are humans, Mari.”
So when we are pushing ourselves to see everything, or work on lesson plans, or job search for after our time here–stop. Sometimes it is good and productive to push yourself. And sometimes you need to step back and breathe. And if I ever learn to take my own advice, that would be great.