Life Overseas - 2015
Wouldn't it be nice to have more opportunities to sit back and relax? To avoid having to set that alarm clock and throw yourself into the rush of California's I-405 freeway, or wherever you happen to live. Well, that isn't a consistent reality for many people that are trying to achieve their goals in life, no matter what country you're in. One thing is certain though; making a portion of time each day to be alone with your thoughts will help your perspective.
I am living in Alexandroupolis, Greece for the time being and have been here and Athens for the past six months. It is a very pretty place with a ton of the world's history. Like any place on earth, it does come with things you will enjoy and things that you would prefer different. Reflection can help your perspective on life. It can provide you with an appreciation for the things that you have and act as a chisel for the life path that you are sculpting. It does this for me.
This is not my first experience being outside of the United States for an extended period of time and I am sure that it will not be my last. What has remained consistent in all of my ventures is that your weekend vacation, month long trip, or family relocation is what you make it. If your mind is open to change and your glass is half full (so to speak), then whether it is your favorite destination or not, you will learn and you will grow. Get lost in the city, start a reading list, go to a local sporting/musical event and see how the fans interact. And for Christ's sake, learn the language! That also applies to my peers and the generation below us in the U.S. that think "BAE" is in Webster's Dictionary. If we should do nothing else then we should at least commit to doing one thing per week in our lives that we have not done before. Routine won't allow us to maximize potential.
An example from my life happened within the month. For two weeks I went without Wifi Internet in my house. What this meant was, as long as I was in my apartment, there would be no email, no Viber/FaceTime calls, no company work done, no social media, no TV series downloads, nothing... As you can imagine, being apart of our technology filled 21st century, my initial reaction was frustration. I wanted to spend as much time away from my apartment as possible in local coffee shops with Wifi. I saw it using the "Why me?" train of thought. It wasn't long before that mindset flipped to "Why not me?". There are plenty of people in the world that don't have running water, a consistent dinner at night, or a smart phone. Now, while it doesn't need to be taken that far, it was a learning opportunity. Being out of my place pushed me to pick up some more books, to get on a bus and just go, to get in an extra workout on off days, and to drink a cup of tea with only my thoughts in mind; no technology in hand. It was refreshing going back mentally to a younger time with dial-up AOL, no meetings to attend, and Justin Timberlake's blonde tips.
Life overseas can be an exploration of more than the country and the sports league (if you're an athlete). It can become a platform that you use to decide who it is you want to be and it can be a platform to map out how you'd like to get there. Observing another culture gives insight. It initiates epiphany, it's humbling, and it will undoubtably give us more appreciation for what makes up our own culture. These are all things that we can learn while we are in our home country as well, if we choose so. I believe that keys are mindfulness and adaptation. There will be obstacles that go along with the triumphs regardless of where you are. Perspective cannot be overstated. It is what you make it.
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Chris P Austin