A Day in the Life of an Expatriate

First let me state that I can name the dates for every single Hungarian holiday and even give you background information for each. I have always been rubbish at remembering holidays, but after living in another country for two years I seem to have forgotten a major one – Independence Day. This is my life as a [horrible] expatriate.

DSC_6316Hand check.

I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed because I had to pick up my new residence permit. I suppose I forgot to stress one small detail in past posts: I am staying for another year! Yes, I am blessing the country of Hungary with my presence for a little while longer. Anyway, the immigration office is one of my personal hells. As insanely easy as my school and the program I teach through makes it for me, I still dread stepping foot into the building. You could be number 316 and arrive when 309 is being seen… and leave the building three+ hours later (if you can’t tell, this happened today). I finished an excellent book – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – I had just started sitting there, waiting to be called. The couple next to me was beyond hostile. As annoying as it can be sitting there waiting, there is no need to barge into the office several times angrily barking “What is going on?! Why haven’t we been called yet?! Just let us go!” Group think was occurring among the people in the waiting room and we all stopped daydreaming to quietly judge them. The man in front of me, number 315, and I, number 316, only took three minutes each and people actually applauded us.

While I was getting my residence permit, I had to sign and date a form. I politely asked what the date was and the lovely Hungarian woman across the counter just gawked at me. After sitting for a few seconds in silence she started laughing and asked, “And what country are you from?” I answered, “The United States of OH MY GOD TODAY IS THE FOURTH. The woman pulled out her phone and showed me how “Independence Day” was on her home screen. A French guy sitting next to me was listening to the whole exchange and ridiculed me as well. Dishonor. Dishonor on my whole family.

DSC_6301Immigration building – cozy, no?

DSC_6266Párizsi Udvar – Parisian Courtyard. Built in 1909.

DSC_6291

DSC_6298

DSC_6269Ferenciek tere.

After leaving the immigration office, I went out to celebrate in the best way I know how: I WENT SHOPPING. Thanks to my friends and students who gave me gift cards and the shops for putting on awesome sales, I only spent 3.725Ft ($16.31) on 37.405Ft ($163.80) worth of stuff! Needless to say, I am pleased. I have been having some pretty bad luck in terms of money lately, so I needed this momentary/monetary (see what I did there) happiness. As most of you know, my purse was stolen in February. I had a lot of stuff in it like a DSLR camera battery, my iPod touch, etc. I lost a lot of money due to some damn burglar.

Unfortunately another catastrophe occurred on Tuesday – my laptop died. I took it to my boss’s husband (Feri), the IT guy at my school, and he cannot fix it. Hopefully I can find a cheap super great computer technician who speaks English as well. Feri works with computers for a living, so the fact that he cannot fix my computer terrifies me. WHAT IF MY PRINCESS IS GONE FOR GOOD? My laptop costs more than I make per month, even adding the money I get from tutoring/babysitting. I am typing this blog post on a laptop that my boss and her husband generously loaned me for the summer. Luckily I saved everything up to my trip to Croatia on an external hard drive, so I only lost two or three months’ worth of stuff. Whatever the case may be, I am clearly devastated since my glasses have also disappeared and I need to get new ones. Someone give me a genie’s lamp or Buddha’s belly to rub.

DSC_6304Eating at my favorite salad joint – Fruccola. And yes, I REALLY like elderflower green tea.

Each and every year I stay and my friends go. Each and every year I have to make new friends. I really like being alone, but it is different when being alone is no longer a choice. I said goodbye to most of my friends from this year over the past couple of weeks. I am perpetually awkward and just as horrible with goodbyes as I am with remembering holidays, but I tried my best to act like a real life human. Whilst saying my farewells, I never feel anything – it is only after that I realize what has happened. My delayed reaction to goodbyes makes the process of closure interesting. I am not an overly attached or emotional person, so I assess my sentiments like I am my own detached psychologist. I do not hold on to relationships longer than I deem necessarily, so I am not “mourning the ‘loss’ of my friends,” but rather musing on the fact that my tangible friendships are just a race against the clock. Travelers deal with this type of scenario all of the time. My friendships here are just as good, if not in some cases better, as my ones from back home. I will not reduce them, claiming that just because they are on a faster track that they do not mean as much to me.

The process of meeting new people is exciting, but also exhausting. Growing up, I was extremely extroverted. Like most, I have become a lot more introverted over the years. I took the Myers-Briggs personality test my second year of university and I was an ENTP. I am now an INTJ. I am still capable of being social, but I generally avoid large groups. Overall I am less rambunctious and less willing to put up with bullshit. Fellow humans, you wear me out (and at night stress me out)!

jennayYou can find me in the forest.

As an expatriate, I sometimes find myself alone in a crowded room, “but lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it.” I am okay with the occasional loneliness. We all face it from time to time, whether it is among family in your hometown or strangers in another country. I figure if we are all plagued with it, I better make mine in a new, beautiful setting – it makes for a more dramatic story anyway.

Happy Fourth of July!

PS. This is my 50th post. Woo. 

A Lesson From Miss Jennifer: Buy a calendar or something.

6 responses to “A Day in the Life of an Expatriate

  1. Sadly, I’ll be experiencing this soon. A lot of my close friends here are all finishing on the same day. I agree. Making new friends is exhausting. Also, shame on you for forgetting the Fourth.

  2. Ah the expat life, we all go through this. I don’t like goodbyes either, not because they’re hard but because I’m not sure what to do in those situations. And happy Independence Day!

    • I think I am going to come up with a signature goodbye. I am so awkward it could work. And thank you! I do have the Stars and Stripes hanging up on my wall (among other flags), so that has to count for something.

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