You take pictures of consumer goods when you are home for summer break
You go home for summer break
You can do currency conversions in your head as fast as your times tables
Everyday math means figuring out time zone differences
Your packing skills are legendary
Your speech is peppered with foreign lingo and slang from the places you’ve lived
You sing “Happy Birthday” over Skype or FaceTime more than twice a year.
You bring an extra suitcase when you travel home to bring back food, paper goods and cleaning products
Your kids look at you in confusion when someone asks them where they’re from
You know the actual names of Ikea furniture lines
You have appliances that use different plugs and a corresponding drawer full of adapters
The day your sea shipment arrives is better than Christmas
Cultures Day at school causes angst and uncertainty
Your kids attend a school where there is a Cultures Day
When you travel home it takes you a while to get used to the sound of listening to everyone around you speak in your mother tongue.
You don’t think twice about pulling your kids out of school during non holiday times
It’s not uncommon for you and your spouse to be on separate continents for several weeks at a time
You regularly have more than two currencies in your wallet at any given time
Your anxiety dreams no longer feature showing up for class unprepared, but showing up to the airport without your passport
Your children know the words to more than one National Anthem…or even more likely, none at all
Your spice cupboard has spices in more than one language.
Google Translate is your homepage
You have to consult Google Translate to figure out how to operate your major appliances
You have trouble figuring out who to support in international sporting competitions
How about you?
15 Comments Add yours
You got me with the adapters.
I had a serious problem with plugs in Switzerland. There are three types of plugs and a zillion different socket types. No matter what you are trying to plug in, it never goes in the socket you want it to. There are aisles in hardware and grocery stores devoted to plugs and sockets. You’re expected to just cut the end of the chord off, and stick the right kind of plug for your socket onto the severed end. I honestly don’t know how the entire country hasn’t just burned down.
Lol, Elyse. The best was buying appliances in Cyprus, which used UK style outlets but because it was EU, sold European appliances. To give them credit, most of them came with adapters included (it would have been a lucrative business if you had a cart selling adapters right outside the shop). We’ve got American, European and UK appliances/adapters,transformers and enough cabling to wire most of Denmark.
There’s nothing like playing with a potentially lethal object, now is there?
One day I was home, emailing my niece about the frustration I was having with plugs and awaiting the delivery of my new dryer.
It arrived with cord with no friggin’ plug at all — we actually had to hire an electrician to install the damn thing.
I have tried to write this up many times, but it only really makes sense to someone else who has been faced with such issues!
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And I’m sure because it was Switzerland, there were 732 rules about how, when, where and why he could wire it (making sure he didn’t stand up to urinate if it was past a certain time in the evening, of course)
You guessed it. But then, I probably didn’t encourage him to urinate in my dryer. My son was wetting the bed and it would have more than enough urine contact!
I once burnt out our rotisserie for the BBQ bc i forgot that its voltage differed to the socket I plugged it into … Took me quite awhile to work out why the chicken wouldn’t turn. Meanwhile my father in law is asking “what is that smell?”
That’s too funny. I always wonder why more people don’t lobby for a universal voltage–the adapter/transformer lobby must be more powerful than I thought 😉
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That settles it. I need to be an expat. I personify most of the things on this list, and I’ve never lived outside the US. MTM is determined to change that. He’s been lucky enough to live overseas three times.
You are an honorary expat. But you should still try it. I think you would thrive.
This is absolutely hilarious! I couldn’t add a single thing to this list! It’s perfect!
Someone mentioned being able to say “Excuse Me” in different languages, which I agree with too. I’m so glad you found it enjoyable!
I agree – this list is perfect! I think I’d add that being an expat is probably the only thing that has kept my mental math skills tuned. Sample problems: If birthdays are occurring in Boston, Edinburgh and Auckland then what time do you start dialing in Nicosia? And a corollary to your multi-currency wallet: We just paid how much for that tchotchke in euros/pounds/dollars? And wait —is that New Zealand dollars or US dollars?
Extra credit: Freestyle a rant on how much more ice cream costs “here”. Include regional differences. Example: In New York City a 1.5 quart tub of Breyers costs $7.99. In Gloucester, MA it costs $2.99. Extra extra credit: convert to litres.
Lol, you should do Volume II. Love the conversion to metric, I forgot that one! I also won’t tell you how much a quart (or the corresponding litre value) of ice cream costs here in DK. But a small cone sets you back about 30 DKK (5.30 USD at today’s rate), so you need higher math to even contemplate buying a quart. But if you come and visit, I’ll buy you one anyway. 🙂
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This is brilliant! I can tick all of these “boxes”… so true. And I’d add too what “Doublewhirler” suggested. I always compare the costs of items to those in the other countries I know and lived. And what Elyse said about Switzerland made me laugh (and cry…) when I moved there (many years ago…) I replaced all the plugs on my electronic devices, just to discover that when I moved house (still in Switzerland and the same city!) I had to redo it again… Now I’m obsessed with this and bring adapters everywhere I travel… The “Cultures Day at school causes angst and uncertainty” is still very true: when this happens at my kid’s school, I still feel this and hope they don’t notice…
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We had Cultures Day yesterday. (Well, it was UN Day wrapped in with Cultures Day). It’s such a lot of prep work, but this year the kids had a flag parade coming in and it was pretty awesome (and made me teary). This one started when I opened my spice cabinet and noticed I had spices in there from all over the place.