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We've only been here in Sunninghill, Gauteng - South Africa for a little over 24 hours but I want to share with you how I am going to try to approach the expat life. Notice I say try because I think this approach is going to be a work in progress but maybe if I share it here I will try a little harder and you can keep me honest.
Everything that you read about maximizing the expat experience says that rule number one is not to compare your new life and surroundings to that of your home country. This is not easy to do when you have lived in your home country all of your life and you are used to certain customs, behavior, culture, rules, amenities and on and on. In the short time we have been here I have noticed so many things that are completely different from what I've experienced in the U.S. What I am going to try to do is explain these things without judging and without giving an opinion about which "way" is better. So for example I will try not say things like, "can you believe they don't have Target or a Target like store here?" Well that really sucks! How am I supposed to get everything I need in an easy and convenient manner?" Instead I will try to say I went shopping and here was my experience and here is how it is different from the U.S. If I find something really egregious then I will have give an opinion but I am going to try to save that for the really big things.
So here's one. In the U.S. you rarely, if ever, see people walking along the highway. When I say highway I mean like I-95 for example. I think in my whole 44 years I have maybe seen three to five people walking on the highway, usually within a mile of seeing a broken down car and normally with a gas can in hand. Wednesday, driving 30 minutes from the airport to the place where we are staying, I saw at least five people walking on the highway. No broken down cars in sight. Don't think that there is a special pedestrian lane or an extra wide shoulder or anything either. There isn't. Interesting right? I assume that these people are going to and from work and that this is normal. Maybe not entirely safe but a way of life just the same.