Jaded, cynical, tired are all some words that might describe a long term expat’s feelings about the constant reinvention required for every move. With these words in mind, the following chipper, expat-targeted tweet riled me:
I understand the importance of being upbeat about an international move. I know in the depths of my soul that it is important to be optimistic and to live with a growth mind-set.
Still the reaction of my mischievous side to this sunny #ExpatTip was to devise a short list of real hobbies for new expats. Tennis and cooking classes are so obvious and costly. Why not adopt three cheap and cheerful expat hobbies?
Whether you decide to learn the local language or not, you might as well become a student of body language. Expat mime hobbyists can spend their free time devising means of visually explaining:
- To the hostess, that you’d like to be seated away from the smokers.
- To the butcher, that you need a particular cut of beef that is unknown to locals.
- To the barber, that you’d like the same haircut that you always got back home.
- To the drugstore clerk, that you are looking for tampons.
As you feel your way around this new land, you will do many things that appear strange to locals. This will be true no matter what country to have relocated to. Keep a tally of just how often you baffle a local through your ineptitude. Possibilities include:
- Attempting to making “a nice cup of tea” for a British person.
- Failing to turn right on a red light while driving in America.
- Asking for a beer without an inch of foam in the Netherlands.
- Walking in the noonday sun without an umbrella in any part of Asia.
3. Match Paint Color to Air Quality
It is likely that you’ve already (inadvertently) taken up the first two hobbies. This hobby, however, is completely original. You simply match the hue of each day’s polluted sky to a commercially named paint color. Looking through the Sherwin Williams online paint catalog, I’ve identified a large deck of samples that would work; the various hues of dirty air overlap entirely with the enumerably taupe-ish paint colors that exist.
Hobbyists who are lucky may find that color of the sky matches their mood.
Reticence is those days when you choose to avoid all human interaction, preferring to look out at the gray sky from inside the cocoon of your temporary housing.
Sensible Hue is for dreary days when the sky is dank and yet you know that you simply must ‘get on with it’ and figure out where to buy a new mop. Sensible Hue is similar to the paint color Realist Beige, but Realist Beige indicates that rather than carry a mop through the public transport system, you’re going to instead clean the floor with a towel.
Breathless is a color often seen in Asian skies when poor air quality forces you to consider your mortality and also whether you should put on the Hello Kitty face mask that they bought you as a joke at your leaving party.
Wishful Blue is for days when you just might convince yourself that it’s fog rather than smog and that things are looking up.
Incidentally, this was the exact color of today’s Hong Kong sky:
Dynamic Blue is for gorgeous clean air days when the world is your oyster and you’re in love with your adopted home. Cherish it.