What happens when you hang out too much with people from your own country or other foreigners? Are you adapting to your new environment? Is that even necessary? And what happens when you hang out only with the natives? Will you forget where you came from? Will you lose your old habits? But in both situations, would you lose yourself while living your new life?
One thing is a certainty, people who live abroad have a different mind-set from the people who don’t. Which is also why I have met people from around the world here in Skopje. We find each other, because we have something in common. Something that our friends and family back at home will not understand. We like to discuss the lives we are having now, what’s going on in the country, the differences and why we ended up here. Besides that we are very open-minded, we invite complete strangers for a cup of coffee or a beer, to welcome them and help them out where we can.
I tried to adapt as much as I can or as I think I should adapt. I would like to think I did not lose myself in the process, I just became more me. But isn’t that what everyone likes to think? For me personally I feel more certain about things in my life now. I know who my friends are and who will always have my back, even when I haven’t spoken with them for over a year. I made the right decision to move to Macedonia, although I’m not sure if I will stay here when you see what is happening to this country (but that’s a complicated issue at the moment). And I know I have found the one who I want to spend the rest of my life with.
Different kind of Foreigners
I see all kind of foreigners in Macedonia. Foreigners who are taking over all the habits from the Macedonians, the good ones and the bad ones. Foreigners who don’t adapt at all. Foreigners who complain all the time about Macedonia and Macedonians (for those: please piss off.) Foreigners who only complain about their origin country like they are still trying to convince themselves they made the right decision to move abroad. Foreigners who do not care where they live, they can basically make a living everywhere they would like to (I’m jealous of you). Foreigners who think they discovered Macedonia and know it all – yup they are a bit weird. But which one am I?
It is clear to the people who read my blog that I like Macedonia and most of its people. At this moment I can say I am adapted here. I know a lot about history, culture, different towns and cities, mentality and politics of Macedonia. I actually am very positive about my life here, but if I would want to raise children in this country? No. Unless Macedonia starts changing dramatically, but for now: no.
I complain about the Netherlands (it’s in our blood to find the tiniest negative thing and turn it into an elephant) I complain about Macedonia, but maybe that’s just because I actually like to complain, I’m Dutch. Am I the foreigner that maybe has a love-hate-relationship with the country? Maybe.
Being an Immigrant
I never understood the immigrants who moved to my country and did not adapt. The immigrants – no matter the reason – who did not even try to speak Dutch, immigrants who did not learn our way of life, our habits and history. Immigrants who took over whole neighbourhoods. Thank goodness there are many immigrants who did adapt and did make it in the Netherlands. And because I have this view on immigrants and am now an immigrant myself, the only thing I could do is learn everything there is to learn about Macedonia. Still learning.
So did I adapt, lose or found myself in the whole process of living in another country? I definitely changed and it changed my views on the world. I believe that when you take the step of moving abroad, the first years you adapt, you lose and you find yourself again. Living abroad is challenging, but it is something I believe you should have done in your life. And if you have the chance, don’t doubt it just go.