Last night I had dinner in Amsterdam with my friend John. John’s a tour guide like me, and also has a great blog called Two Passports.
We chatted about blogging for a while, what things we were planning to write about, the usual. Then John pointed out something; not what I was going to write about, but what I don’t write about. Myself.
I talk about the things I do, the places I see and the food I eat. I often poke fun at my failings, in the hope that I get a giggle or a nodding head. Other than that, I generally talk about the positives of long-term travel and being an expat on the other side of the world.
But it ain’t all roses. Far from it. So here are some truths. I’m getting them off my chest.
5. Every day I worry about finding a ‘real’ job.
I often boast that I have the best job in the world and post lots of photos aimed at either drooling or jealousy (and sometimes both). But the thing is, I hold a BA. In history and Japanese. My work history is in a foreign government’s politicking. The job offers aren’t exactly coming through thick and fast.
That’s not to say that I’m tour guiding because there’s nothing else; I love tour guiding and getting up on the mike and rabbiting on about the Defenestration of Prague or how to pick good gelati is my favourite part. But I can’t do it forever, and it is seasonal work. Which leads me to my second point…
4. I miss Paul terribly when I’m tour guiding.
Although I love tour guiding, it takes me away from Paul when he’s the main reason why I’m over here in Europe. When I was training down in southern Spain, I had to fight back the tears when wandering through Cordoba. I’d spent time with Paul there and couldn’t stop thinking about it. I then got angry at myself, telling me I was “one of those girls”.
That didn’t help. What helps is seeing Paul regularly, and when I can’t, having him tell me that I wouldn’t be happy sitting on the couch all summer, waiting to go back to uni and waiting for him to come home from work. I may be “one of those girls” but I really do suck at keeping house.
3. I get racked with guilt.
All the time. It can be because all I want to do is watch movies on my laptop at night instead of wandering the streets of Nice, or it can be because I just spent most of my pay on pintxos and kalimotxos.
I even feel guilty when I can’t see Collingwood play, as if I should have tried harder and found a better Internet stream at the Rome campsite (which is impossible). This coincides with my guilt about lack of Skyping, which I do as often as I can. But I still feel guilty if the conversation is hijacked by the aforementioned Rome wifi.
2. I feel like I’m going around in circles when it comes to learning Dutch.
I started learning Dutch back in July 2010. Yet I still am a nervous wreck when someone wants to have a conversation with me that is more than a single question-answer. I know the day will come when I get my very own Puffy Shirt moment; I’ll agree to something simply because I’ve said “ja, ja” despite not understanding the question.
Dutch is not the hardest language to learn. It’s light years easier than Japanese ever was. So that’s not the problem. The practicing is. Every time I speak to a shopkeeper in Dutch, they’ll answer in English. Even though Paul and I have a rule to communicate only in Dutch on Whatsapp, I’ll drift back into English. The Dutch do it themselves; mixing the two languages. And I’ve picked up on the habit.
1. I often don’t know what the hell I’m doing here.
It is late summer/early autumn. However, I wore a scarf for the first time on the weekend and currently the temperature is in the single digits. Meanwhile, it’s going to be in the low 20s in Melbourne, with summer still way off in the distance.
So yes, the weather gets me down. So does not having a local group of my own friends. Dordrecht is lovely, but quiet. We don’t even have a movie theatre. Conversely, I used to live in Southbank, with the city, beach and South Melbourne Market dim sims on my doorstep. Not to mention the footy.
I would think about the garage in Ballarat which is full of my apartment’s ‘stuff’; my bed and my fridge and my earring collection, compared to my meagre personal effects here. I would grumble when I’d have to get up in the middle of the night to watch Aussie sport. And I would death-stare the offerings of the Asian grocery store, which doesn’t even have laksa paste.
And would it kill the Dutch to make a decent cup of coffee?!
People often say that I have a calm, stress-free exterior. Well, that’s a bonus, because often I’m all over the place inside.
So my point is that it’s not always smooth sailing. I’m human and moving overseas is no walk in the park. But it’s supposed to be a challenge, and that’s what I signed up for.
Now, enough of this soul searching. I’ve got posts about food, perfume and shopping to write.