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the untethered expat: culture shock

I’ve been a bit off lately. I’ve seen it coming, and I recognize it for what it is, but nonetheless, it’s unsettling. I felt it on our school trip to Belem. The last presentation–the culminating speech–was in Portuguese. Again. Chaos erupted across the room as Brazilian friends leaned in to translate for their foreign peers. Someone leaned over and began translating for me. I was hot. I was itchy. I was tired. I was annoyed by an earlier rude interaction. I couldn’t focus on the speaker, I couldn’t focus on the translator, I couldn’t focus. My skin crawled. I left the room Read More

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expat insecurities: how moving overseas turns you into a middle schooler

This post has been marinating a while in my mind (often around 1 or 2 middle of the night: time to wake up and worry about things you can’t control. yippee!). A variety of factors have appeared on the radar recently that I’ll attribute to a storm of culture shock brewing off the shore. An extended commute where I was stuck in a car in a land where I don’t speak the language (where is a restaurant where we can stop for a quick meal where we actually fully understand the menu without a million Google acts of translation?). My Read More

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buying a car in Sampa

For the past fifty days, we’ve managed to get around Sampa via our feet and a la Uber. And although it’s been sufficient, the thought has lingered in the back of our minds: how do we get out of here?! Traveling beyond the city limits begs for a car of our very own. And so last weekend we found ourselves at a local auto shop recommended to us by several people from school: Auto Handel. There Marcus and his wife, Rosa, guided us through the process of picking, buying and securing insurance for a car (2012 Renault Sandero Stepway). In English! Thankfully, Read More

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catch up journal: days 10-31

Today marks our 31st day living in another country. We have frequent moments where we look at each other and say: “Holy cow, we LIVE here. In another country. On a different continent.” As of late, I often find myself in the stage of admiring our hefty-ball size for doing something so bold. #teampossum for the win, indeed. It’s been awhile since I shared about the happenings down here in Sampa, so here goes. Students. My students have consulates and CEO’s as parents. My students are Olympic-bound athletes. My students are well-educated and articulate and reflective. My students say thank Read More

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arrival journal: days five through seven

It’s hard to believe today marks one week we’ve been living in Brazil! The past few days have been a whirlwind of continued professional introductions to the school’s systems as well as more delicious wining and dining. Wednesday’s orientation provided time for a Portuguese 101 class with one of the school’s most charismatic Brazilian teachers. Her wide smile lights up a room and her warmth makes anyone feel at ease. She taught us through lively action made even sweeter by a table of delicious local candies. I also had my “appointment” with the school’s doctor to make sure I was Read More

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arrival journal: day four

For the last ten years in Colorado, my commute has been extensive. In Telluride, we had to drive roughly an hour over the Dallas Divide,  which literally took my breath away: both from the astonishing beauty and the sheer frightening anxiety of a snowstorm. In Evergreen’s foothills, my commute averaged about 45 minutes but could take two hours during snowstorms. When I think about how much time I’ve spent in the car over the last decade, it’s a bit depressing. Today, however, I walked to school. Up hill. For less than 10 minutes. The birds were singing and the sun Read More

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arrival journal: day three

As I write this, I sit on my balcony enjoying the interplay of stars above and apartment lights around and headlights below. Dave and I just shared some conversation about our separate days’ experiences (the first we’ve been apart in awhile) on the balcony while sipping out of cherry blossom mugs the whiskey we packed into our overseas luggage. As you might be able to tell, I am in a much better place than yesterday. Today started with the first of many back to school alarm clock appointments followed by a meditation about going with the flow of life’s direction. Read More

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arrival journal: day two

I could write about so many wonderful experiences today. For example, I could write about how we slept so soundly almost to 11. Or about how we were so worried about hearing the sounds of birds, yet we hear them throughout the day. Or about how sometimes we are awakened from our naps by the sounds of children playing and laughing in the streets below. Or about the conversations I had at dinner that lifted my spirits. Or about how we had this really cool tour of a local soccer stadium. Or about how awesome our shower pressure is. Or Read More

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arrival journal: day one

A hard goodbye to family yesterday was swallowed up by the effort to unpack and situate all of our luggage into the airport, where a friendly–albeit nervous–Delta counter agent got us ready to go. It was clear he didn’t have much experience with people traveling to Brazil as he was reading the prompts coming up on his computer: yes we have a visa, yes we know the maximum amount of days, yes we get more baggage than normal. Regardless, we were on our way through security to Chili’s to celebrate with some Patron. All in all–way easier than we thought Read More

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you, too, are welcome here: the anxieties of change

When I was in high school, I lacked the finesse required to to discern my own levels of stress. Instead, in alignment with what I was taught and that which I believed, I held tightly to the safety net of God: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. In my world: anxiety = atheism. But as much as I ached in my deepest soul to believe this, my body said otherwise. I was plagued with random stomach pains that I could not identify. Sometimes they were Read More