I felt like I should give a quick update about being a little over 1.5 years into this crazy journey. What has changed? What do I know now? How have my expectations met my reality?
We are comfortably into our daily life here, long enough to establish “favorites” but still fresh enough to see and try new things when we are feeling adventurous. Being half way into our second year, we now have a frame of reference for what is coming. School events, weather, city festivals and so on – it’s not our first time anymore. It feels good to have memories that include Colombia.
There have been many times that Colombia has proven to be so much more than I ever imagined for our family. We have had so many people come into our lives, that have invested in our short-term experience and not held back because there might be a good-bye in our near future. We have succeeded because we have had help doing it. It takes a village.
I say my kids are turning more “Colombian” everyday. They have accents better than mine, request their favorite Colombian snacks (plantains and piñita), they love Shakira and reggae-tone and enjoy many of the perks that come with being an expat kid (lots of travel). I could never have matched this experience in any other way. On the flip side, they have learned how to be comfortable being “different.” I’m not sure they realize it on a daily basis, but they understand we are not the same and that’s totally ok. We can do things differently and it’s not better or worse.
I know now I can not only survive without many of the conveniences of American life, but I can thrive. This isn’t to say that I don’t have my moments (or lots of them) where I miss life at home. I do, especially when I’m craving my favorite foods or just want to have lunch with my Mom. However, I think the greatest asset in succeeding here is that we try to keep it all in perspective. We will have all of those things again, probably quicker than we realize and this will all be over. I try to stay in the frame of mind that our time overseas is limited and remind myself that good, bad or different, there is an end point approaching so I might as well enjoy it. It will all be a good story one day.
I do feel like this experience is going by very quickly. Getting adjusted in the beginning felt slow, but as soon we found our groove, it seems like the months just fly by. I don’t know what the next phase of life will be like or how it will all play out – I have become more comfortable with an open-ended 5 year plan!
What I would tell my earlier self is that patience is learned with good practice, so sit tight, you are going to get really good at it. You will also be surprised how your kids will rise to this challenge. You will appreciate the convenience of city life, despite the noise. And finally, you will not regret your original decision because the adventure is worth all the stress.