Sunday, November 18, 2012

Expat Report: Month 5 – Coping With Homesickness

Sightseeing, reunion with long lost family members, Argentine comic-cons, and zombie walks… these are just some of the exciting things that I've experienced since I moved to Argentina. 
It was only five months ago that I left the United States, a country that both educated and shaped the very person I am today. Life in the U.S. is very much about personal image, reputation, hectic lifestyles, deadlines and high-end consumption... all of which I honestly miss. Argentina is the exact opposite. I knew going into this that it would not be an easy transition for me, but I didn’t think it would be this tough. 
My spouse and I have handled the transition much more differently. While he has embraced his new home with its customs, food, and language, I’ve found myself resisting the transition every step of the way. My spouse believes that my difficulty assimilating is the result of my stubbornness and refusal to let go of the United States. He’s probably right. I do have an emotional umbilical cord to the U.S. Even after five months, I find myself trying to point out the differences between the two countries, and I have a feeling the locals don't like that very much. When we are out shopping, I continue to speak English despite the fact that I promised myself (and my spousethat I would start making an effort to speak Castilian (Argentine Spanish). 
You might ask yourself: If I’m this unhappy then why don’t I simply return to the U.S.? It’s not that simple. The move required me to burn some bridges, bridges I can’t cross. The funny thing is that my spouse is okay with never going back. It was his desire to move here to start a fresh life and to leave behind the pain of his former life in the U.S. He has a lot of family issues, but that's his story to tell. He has the kitchen he always wanted and no one around to tell him what to do or what not to do. He’s a cook at heart and I’m happy that baking makes him happy. He’d like to open his own pastry shop within the next five years, so I’m working on helping him to accomplish that. My family has been very welcoming to him. My folks call him son, and my cousins call him primo (which is the Spanish word for cousin). He has, in a way, gotten back his grandparents, whom he loved dearly, but lost to cancer a few years back. That’s what my parents have become to him. and I’m glad that both they, and my cousins have been so wonderful to him. I just hope nothing alters their behavior. 

I think the other reason why I have had such a hard time integrating here is because there is virtually no need for English speaking people here. My high school and college credits aren’t worth a thing hereSo, I basically have to start all over again. Fortunately, I'm told that the universities here are among the best in the world and they’re free. I just hope they're right. I have to go back to school, and in the process, learn about Argentina’s history in order to stand on my own two feet. So, I have an education and a career goal which I will talk about in an upcoming blog entry. 

I haven’t given up on my writing either, but promoting my books from Argentina is nearly impossible and the fame I expected to have with my novels back in the U.S. never came. So, I’ve started translating my books into Castilian. There is more of a demand for new authors and new ideas here than in the U.S. So, I look forward to gaining success as a writer in Argentina. 

By the end of year one, I expect to be done translating my Hunter’s Vendetta novel, and perhaps teaching English to a couple of more Argentine students. 
As the reality of my new life has begun to set in, I look forward to the new challenges that the next five months will bring. 

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