Kim over at Stepping Stones tagged me for this expat-meme. I so hate calling myself an expat, even though that’s what I am. I associate the word expat with consultants, embassy-staff etc. in their fifties plus their wives who hardly have an idea in what country they are living this time. Sorry, I know I am going slightly overboard here!
Anyway, here we go:
Name five things you love in your new country:
1. The warmth and generosity of the people
2. The unorderliness
3. The mountains
4. Learning Armenian (well, that would be a love/hate relationship) and realizing when I have made progress again, when I am able to understand something that I didn’t understand previously.
5. The food, so many fresh and delicious things.
Name four things that you miss from your native country.
1. Bookshops!!!!!! The ones with a large and diverse enough offer that you can spend hours browsing there.
2. Going to a movie theater and watching movies without Russian or Armenian dubbing and movie theaters that show other movies than just the latest Hollywood blockbusters.
3. I miss being judged as a human first and only then (and not always) as a woman. See also the bonus in the next section.
4. Cooking dishes from different cultures and being able to find anything you need for that in any supermarket. I enjoy cooking, but I have become so lazy here, partly because of that.
Name three things that annoy you a bit (or much) in your new country:
1. The obsession Armenians have with skvaznjak (i.e. a draft coming through an open window or door) and with grip (the flu or a cold): you sneeze or blow your nose once and you immediately get concerned questions whether you are sick. No! sometimes I just sneeze or blow my nose, just because!
2. The lack of environmental awareness (Gee, throw everything out of the window! Who cares!)
3. The lack of a long-term vision in just about anyone, especially in the country’s leaders, but also in very many ordinary people.
Bonus: 4. The attitude towards women: they are not supposed to be more than mother, wife, housewife and shouldn’t have too many (if any) other ambitions in life. Yes, I know this is food for discussion once again).
Bonus: 5. The use of mobile phones. They’re everywhere and are not being switched off. Not even during a meeting, a class or a movie.
Name two things that surprise you (or surprised you in the beginning) in your new country:
1. Social control (everyone knows everything about everyone else – or wants to know everything about everyone else) and the importance of the opinion of “the other”: What would they think of you if you did such and such or behaved so and so.
2. The importance of outward appearance and how often people are judged by the way they look, the car they drive, the cell phone they carry etc. I remember a couple of times I was openly checked out from head to toe by girls or women and by their looks it was clear I had not passed the test! The last time this happened (or at least that I noticed it happened) was three days ago.
Bonus: 3. The strong family ties. This results in bonus point number 6 (actually 5-and-a-half) in the previous section: the amount of times parents call or are called by their children. My colleagues at work talk to their parents about once an hour on average. No kidding!)
Name one thing that you would miss terribly in your new country, if you had to leave it:
1. The varied group of friends and acquaintances I have here, in character, social status (married, single, divorced), age and social and financial circumstances.
I guess I could have mentioned other things as well and that some of the things I mentioned are interconnected. Also, some of the things I mentioned probably merit a separate post – who knows, I might write them one day.
I pass the meme on to these people, who all happen to be among my favorite bloggers:
Sietske over at Sietske in Beiroet.
Liza over at Something something.
Maarten who is blogging from Odessa in the Ukraine at Oostblog (blog in Dutch).
Thomas at Follow the Way mentioned recently, that he has been in Armenia for exactly a year now, so I am curious to find out what he misses about France.
Finally, I am especially curious if Nancy over at One Armenian World is willing to take up the challenge and if so, what her answers will be.