It is exciting to live abroad, to get to know a new environment, to adjust to local food, customs, and traditions. And yet, at times, it also can be just terrifying and exhausting. It’s part of the game, and instead of trying to avoid these negative streaks (because that won’t work), I find it more effective to develop strategies to deal with them. One of my strategies is to have my own little comfort goodies with me. I could definitely find replacements here or simply live without them – but that makes them so particularly valuable.
#1: My allround entertainment center aka Tablet
My Sony Xperia Z…every Sunday morning, I get the new weekly profil, every Thursday Die Zeit e-Paper, and once a month the New African. I have a Kindle-App on it and a UB E-Reader, I can spend weekend afternoons on my balcony playing video games. It is great to play Deezer music, to watch movies and series downloaded or directly in the ORF Mediathek, and when something important happens – like Austrian elections or soon the Football EC – I can even try streaming online.
#2: My media libraries – music, books, movies
Oh gosh – thinking of the boxes full of books, CDs and DVDs that I had to somehow transport back to Austria after five years in the Netherlands. What I nightmare.
These days, the collection of reading material, music, films and series is infintely larger that in used to be back in the days…and yet it weighs less than a pound.
By the way: In January, Netflix was launched in Mozambique recently, as it was in most other African countries. However, for now I don’t have the broadband connection I’d need to netflix and chill.
#3: Robust, high quality sandals
I walk a lot; it’s always hot; and I am not allowed to wear flip-flots at work. Best compromise: one pair of really good, comfortable yet robust sandals, a stock of cheap ballerinas and one pair of hiking shoes (although I haven’t used mine so far). Needless to mention my variety of flip-flops for home, beach, weekends, balcony etc.But my favourites are definitely these sandals, model “28er” (named after the Steyr 28 tractor) from GEA.
#4: Medication for the common cold
I managed to catch my first Malaria two months after I got to Mozambique. However, my most frequent and most annoying health issues have nothing to do with tropical parasites. It’s the common cold that affects me every other month, and given the omnipresence (and inalienability!) of air conditioning in combination with high outside temperatures and unexpected rain showers, that should not even come as a suprise. And even though the pharmacies here are not badly stocked, I think everyone has their own favourite treatments for “Schnupfen, Husten, Heiserkeit” – so make sure you bring them with you!
#5: Immersion Blender
Mozambique is flowing over with wonderful food, vegetables and herbs all year long. And even though I usually find them best to be consumed just as they are, they also keep an enormous potential to be blended into juices, smoothies and soups. It’s not impossible but yet challenging to buy a good blender here – and a compact, high quality immersion blender does not occupy to much luggage space.
#6: Garlic press
It sounds like a very little detail – but since I do cook a lot more “from the scratch” here than I ever did before, for the first time in my life I always have a solid stock of basic products at home – milk, eggs, flour, potatoes, cream, onions, and of course garlic. And we it’s an open secret that processing garlic is so much easier and faster with a press than with a knife. Just like blenders, I am pretty sure that garlic press are not impossible to find here as well. However, until now, I have not come across one so for – and am very happy for my European Ikea one, made in China.
#7: Scented Ikea candles
What I learned pretty fast after my arrival is that one should always have candles at home (and at hand), because power cuts are frequent and unexpected. So when I went back home for a holiday, I brought some of these wonderful scented candles from Ikea with me as a replacement for the normal, long, white candles that are available here. Because the Ikea stuff is wonderful and multifunctional – long lasting, stable flame, reusable glass container, easy to spot and light in the dark when placed at strategic locations in the flat, and as a bonus, they come with a nice scent and do not smell like toilet spray.
Talking about power cuts…a good quality headlamp is one of the most convenient things at hand, especially when you consider the fact that it gets dark between 5:45pm and 6:pm here all year long.
#9: Razor blades, brushes for electric tooth brush
Just saying. There are some things you’re just so used to that you do not even think much about them. But youo don’t find them everywhere.
#10: Guilty pleasures
It’s really not difficult to get all kinds of groceries here – fresh fruit, the best seafood, cashews, Piri Piri, herbs, Indian spices…and yet, sometimes it is one of biggest pleasures to make something taste like home.
Also – no Haribo here. And sadly, no Haribo left in my personal stock at my flat either to go on the photo.
#11: Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil
One could argue it is incorporated in #10 – something to make stuff taste like home. But pumpkin seed oil is not a guilty pleasure; it’s a necessity to survive anywhere outside Styria.