Saturday, October 10, 2015

22 Days Left - Lessons I've Learned as an Expat

I don't know what I just ordered, but life is an adventure.

I'm sitting in Starbucks sipping an iced mocha as I write this.  Yum.  I know exactly what it will taste like every time I order it.  There's some form of comfort in being able to go to so many different places in the world, and know exactly what I am getting.  I've had Starbucks in Taipei, Moscow, Grandville, Frankfurt, Istanbul, London, Helsinki and many other places and a mocha always tastes like a mocha.  

When I go into a restaurant I like to order the same thing over and over.  I get fetticini alfredo with chicken at Olive Garden, the Outback special at Outback Steakhouse, and a double cheese burger with catsup only at McDonalds.  I like to know what I'm getting.

Maybe this is on my mind because I have no plans for cooking tonight which means we'll be eating on the street.  There are stands and little noodle shops all over the place that sell really good, really cheap food.  So we'll go to one of those and inevitably I'll  have no idea what I'm ordering.  Many of them have these great little pictures on the menu.  I just point to what looks good and hope for the best.  The other night we went to a place that even had plastic sculptures of the food.  The mashed potatoes surrounded by stew caught my eye.   Suddenly I was craving mashed potatoes.  I mean, I couldn't shut up about how much I was anticipating my meal.  Then they handed it to me and I knew instantly that it was not mashed potatoes.  I sat down with my food and started to pick at it a bit to figure out what in the world it was.  There was a nice rounded mound of white rice covered in a thin, flat scrambled egg.  I guess in Asia that makes sense, but when I saw the plastic food, I immediately thought of what I knew and that was mashed potatoes.  Disappointedly, I ate my egg covered rice.  Then there was the time in Moscow when, once again, I ordered based on a photo.  The little bits of meat looked so yummy.  That night we were playing with google translate's new feature of hold the camera over Russian words and it will translate for you.  I was busy babbling on about something while the Doc was figuring out what I had ordered.  When I asked him, his answers were vague and nondescript.  The food came and it looked so good.  It did not taste so good.  I had ordered liver of some animal that was wrapped in pretty packaging.  I ate as much as I could bare.  Thank goodness it was floating in a tasty gravy.

So, looks can be deceiving.  If we live life only ordering, or doing or going to the familiar, we will never grow and find new things we like.  You have to take chances.  Sometimes they are small and only effect the food you are eating that night.  Other times they are big and have long lasting consequences.  I like living life a little in the unknown.  Some days I need the comfort of the familiar--thank goodness Starbucks is only a block away!  Other days I feel the freedom of the wind.  Life has no guarantees, so be willing to try the unknown, take a little risk and see where that path leads.  You may just find a new meal you can't live without!

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