Moving from one country to another in every 3 years sounds fun is not it?
It is indeed! Especially if it is a country that you have never been and wonder about how life would be there.
We are moving to Lithuania in 3 weeks. I already know it is a small and cold country but still it is a nice little European city.
I have already started imagining myself walking in the streets or riding my bicycle or dropping by a street coffee shop to read. Awww! After Ethiopia it will be quite different. I hope it will be different for good.
Life Back in Ethiopia
When I look back my 3 years in Ethiopia, I was mostly happy. I am saying mostly because I had gone through health issues when I was here. However, I think I got the most out of my stay in Ethiopia. I made excellent friends here, they supported me a lot. I joined different activities of sports, acting, yoga, wood-cut printing that I had never had enough time before.
I was lucky as a sociologist to live in such a distinct culture and enjoy its differences for years.
Slowing down for 3 years also made me change my perspective towards life a lot.
First, I was working heavily as a researcher in a think-tank organisation back in Turkey. I was called an “expert,” I had a network, time to time my opinion pieces were appearing in media. Now it is like a distant memory but I was commenting on social issues in media channels time to time. I was considered “important” to some extent in my expertise. Now it is a joke among us and our friends that “Oh could you analyse this topic for us since you were an expert!” 🙂
When I arrived here, I became a PhD student – housewife. That was quite a change for me. Since when you are working, you think that if you leave the job noone can fill your place and you took your job so serious that as if you are saving the world. Noone can do it as you do blah blah blah…
First Phase: Joy of being the new in town and free of work!
First month was ok because I was amazed being in such a different country. I enrolled in a language class. I joined an informal acting class formed by amazing ladies. I started to gym which was quite cheaper than Turkey and I enjoyed my coffee over a book in Kaldis coffee shop.
But after some time, I started to feel useless since I did not have a “proper” job and did not make any money out of my social activities.
Second Phase: I hate this place and I hate myself
In my first month, I also decided to start my research on my thesis. Then I realised that the life (research life) was not that easy here. None of my designated contacts wanted to talk to me on my research topic on migration and refugee issues since it was a painful topic here. I was not let in Addis Ababa University Library and I did not have a proper internet connection at home. My optimistic idealism started to replace with questioning my life: What I am doing here? I lost all my career opportunities. Is it even possible to write a dissertation without internet anymore?
That’s when I decided to look for something else: Purpose.
Third Phase: Learning to walk again and Acceptance!
When I look back I define this period of my life as “eppur
si muove” phase. Translation: Still it moves.
Since life is still going on try to adopt yourself to it or perish in depression. I chose the second option.
As Elif Shafak stated once in her novel Araf, in a totally new place, hardest is to learn the simple things in everyday life. How people walk in streets, how they drink coffee, where to buy best for cheapest, where to eat and drink and so on. You fool yourself continuously that with every failure you feel more disappointed and feel ready to quit and go back to hiding yourself at home.
In that phase, first, instead of cursing the unexpected things going around, I started to accept them as they are. Accept that you will not have proper internet connection. Accept that there is not much transportation except pricy taxies. Accept that you should not walk in streets late even day time it can be hard because of missing side walks. Accept that you will have a tight budget in coming 3 years. So on so forth…
Do not try to adopt everything to your old life, try to adopt yourself to your new one.
Interesting but true, when I stopped bothering myself with negativity, life started to approach me more kindly. When I stopped fighting with it, I realised it quit slapping me in the face.
Fourth Phase: Changing Perspective
I realised that I underestimated jobless life a lot. It was my backwardness complex that I could not imagine myself without a job. I always overvalued my position. As is always thought, I was a modern educated woman who is supposedly work and contribute to society. And measure of success was either career or money.
Having thought like this, when I first quit my job to join my husband for Ethiopia, I thought I was sacrificing my career for family. However, I refused to accept that it was my choice. Nobody forced me to do it. I simply preferred this life.
I should tell, I found a lot more in simplicity then my life with a job.
I have many friends they think they are unfulfilled and less happy although they have definitely everything: a job, a fancy house, a car, kids etc. I think it is not about how much we have but how much we value the things we have, people who love us and life that awaits little appreciation.
Now, when I look back, my anxieties and problems at work seem so silly. I feel like I was so childish to bother myself with negativity around me.
Fifth Phase: Appreciation
Final phase is appreciation. It is not just to gain but also to things that we lost. Appreciating the completeness in life. Appreciating the love, loss, fear, patience…
I know not all of us lucky to be born beautiful, smart, fertile, rich. But still we can make a room to things /people /love that we have instead of longing for ones that we have never had or never will.
I do not say that my life is perfect but I can dare to say my perspective is.
You can rescan yourself to test if you have the perspective that you need or not easily:
-Ask yourself these questions:
Is it easy or /hard to get up everyday?
Can I bear hearing myself when I am alone without outside noises?
What does my voice tell me when I speak to myself?
I think you might know the answer now.
I appreciate your comments. And let’s discuss for better options 🙂