Tag Archives: transitions in life

Playing The Game

img_5973Bam. Dot. Crak.

One of the things I miss the most about living overseas is having global friends from many countries. I’ve searched to find international connections in Dallas but it has been difficult. Although Dallas is a large city with a multinational population, many live in the suburban areas surrounding the metroplex and I live near downtown. I’ve found that these populations segregate themselves together in neighborhoods of people like themselves. This is so different from Istanbul. Every kind of person lived together, in close proximity, inside the crowded city. It was common to walk everywhere, so you saw, and heard, foreign people constantly on the sidewalk beside you. Here in Dallas, there are many miles between us – in more ways than one. I’ve participated in several Meetup groups hoping to find friends who have lived overseas but for one reason or another, I haven’t made the connections I’ve hoped for.

When I moved back to Dallas earlier this year, I moved to an area of town I was unfamiliar with. Hoping to find new friends close to home, an out-of-state friend mentioned that I might like to learn how to play American MahJong. This popular game has a Chinese history and is played worldwide. I searched in my area but had no luck in finding an established group. I posted a humble notification on the Next Door app to members of my new local community, and to my surprise I had 30 responses from strangers who also wanted to learn how to play. I set up a meeting place at a local restaurant and the rest is history.

In the months that followed, others jumped in to help organize and smaller groups formed based on weekday, weeknight or weekend play date availability. New friendships formed between the members and this week we celebrated our new friendships by having a holiday progressive dinner party, between three homes, right here in my neighborhood. As I looked around and observed the laughter and enjoyed the delicious food and drink, I felt so proud to have started this group and brought so many people together.

I also attended my first Internations Meetup this past week and it was so enjoyable. I sat with four women from Ukraine, Jamaica, Ireland and India. They all encouraged me to attend the upcoming holiday party. Sometimes I get discouraged because it is more difficult to find global friends here but I’ll press onward. A person can never have too many friends.

Do you live in a new place and are you lonely? What might you do to bring people together? You will be delighted at the results.

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Things I Learned

nov2016imageRemembering.

During the past few weeks, I’ve been writing schools and checking out websites of potential employers. As of this morning, there are 58 Art Teacher openings posted on the Search Associates website. As I contemplate the possibility of moving to a new country, I am reminded of all the learning that one goes through upon immersion into a new culture. I am both excited by it and unnerved by it. The adrenalin rush that an expat feels upon arrival in a new country is not easily forgotten. Cleaning out some old documents, I came across this list I made of a few of the things I learned in Turkey:

 

  1. How to pee in a hole. I will never forget a sweet, female Turkish friend bending over in laughter when I asked her how to do this. Through gulps of laughter, she shut my art room door and acted out some important strategies that all Turkish girls are taught. This knowledge forever changed my life in Turkey.
  1. How to say, “Kas lira?” (How many lira does this cost?). Then learning how to count to 30, and finally how to negotiate/haggle. I became a confident buyer before too many months.
  1. How to tolerate the smokers. Smokers are everywhere. Smoking is what people do. Both young and old people smoke. I remember thinking, “Well maybe smoking won’t actually give you cancer like we’re taught to believe in USA. There are tons of old people here and they all smoke!” I still wonder about this…
  1. How to be a calm passenger in the backseat of a taxi, with a crazy driver, and not wear a seat belt. Seat belts exist in taxis, but they are all “adjusted” so that they don’t work. Now imagine this, staying calm, with loud Turkish music playing on the radio, and slipping and sliding down very steep hills covered with snow. It was during these rides that the carefree taxi drivers would ask me, in broken English, “Where from?” When I said, “Dallas, Texas”, they would often say, “Ah, Dallas!! JR!!” I learned that people in Turkey love the show, “Dallas”.
  1. I learned who Ataturk was and why he is important to the nation of Turkey. I now know more about Ataturk than I do George Washington, and I love him too! Ataturk’s picture hangs in every classroom and in many homes. His picture hangs on street-side banners and permanent signage all over the city.
  1. How planning ahead is of no use in many countries outside the USA. The ability to organize my time, that I’ve become so good at, didn’t work in Turkey. Things change. Their cultural understanding of every thought, every decision is, “Inshallah”: If Allah wills it. I learned better how to roll with the punches and live in the moment. I’m not an expert at it, but I’m better at it now than I used to be.

As I venture onward into this recruiting season, I am faced with another season of transition. I know the excitement of moving and the hardships of immersion. Finding the right “fit” of a country, and a school, is of upmost importance. Decisions should be made carefully and wisely, and for me, with a lot of prayer.

What questions do you ask yourself to know if a big change in your future is a step in the right direction?

If you haven’t done so already, PLEASE follow my blog by clicking on the “Follow” button located by scrolling down to the bottom of the page. By doing this, you will be notified by email when I post a new article.

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