Moving abroad. Changing places and exploring a new environment. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been in this situation, and I daresay that I never experienced it in the intensity I do now. Moving to Mozambique is different from moving to Hungary, France, Netherlands or back to Austria. I know that I will be going through several stages, as everyone does and as I’ve done before. In a couple of weeks, for example, I will have settled and got relatively used to my daily life, and reality will start to kick in. There will be moments of unpleasant weather, and frustrating appointments, and days with headache or simply a bad night of sleep, and I will be very likely to blame it on the city, the country, the decision I made to leave Vienna. Because in those very moments, I will not remember the bad, frustrating, aching moments in Vienna where I just wished that I had had stayed in Eindhoven instead, because everything would have been so much better there.
Been there, done that. And there are a couple of highly recommendable articles that describe these and similar feelings in a very authentic way, e.g. The Thing that Really Sucks About Living Abroad, What Happens When You Live Abroad – and some of my own thoughts.
But for now, I realize a certain simplification of everything, compared to the last few breathtaking and breathless years in Vienna. I experience so many “Firsts”. The first grocery shopping at the local market in Beira (where I accidentally bought 33 instead of a handful of mangos and hence processed them into a stock of delicious chutney), the first Chupela-ride on my own (the auto-rikshas on the streets that I am a bit traumatized by from Mumbai where I was permanently ripped off and had to get into endless discussions about broken meters – now I know that here in Beira, they are as uncomplicated as could be and every ride simply costs 50 Meticais), the first rain (that started without any warning signs, gave the impression that the world might have come to an end for five minutes, and then stopped as abruptely as it started).
I also feel that I have more time now. Why? I guess it’s a couple of factors playing together. I have less choices here than I was used to in Eindhoven and Vienna – on many levels…grocery shopping, leisure activities, priotities at work. I don’t have Netflix neither an internet connection stable enough to watch long movies on Youtube. I have a limited amount of books and just a few CDs and downloaded music on Deezer. Turns out, the lack of choices allows me to focus much more on what I am doing – reading what I am reading, spending an afternoon at the Culture Center taking African Dance Classes, not just browsing through articles at work but reading them thoroughly. Cooking things from scratch, preparing litres of cooled down, fresh Rooibos Tea and storing it as alternative to drinking water. And I start to understand that this focus, without the permanent thought of what all the other things that I could just as well do at a given moment makes every moment longer, more intense, and simply more pleasant.
And I experience so many “success stories” – discoveries and incidents that seem so insignificant and ridiculous and yet add value or comfort to my life: Finding a thermos cup in a Chinese shop that finally allows me to take my own, home-made coffee to the office. Basically any conversation that I master in Portuguese. Figuring out how to find the guy who sells newspapers every Thursday when the new Zambeze is out. Discovering that I can receive FM-radio (that is, independent from Internet connection) on my tablet by simply attaching headphones as antenna. Opening my bathroom window at 5:30pm, realizing that I can watch the perfect sunset from there.
None of these things would have had any chance of making my day back in Vienna, or Eindhoven. But here they do. And that feels comforting, and relieving. Knowing that it was absolutely worth getting up in the morning just because of a sunset or a sunrise or a nice converstaion I had.
I call it the Discovery of Simplicity.