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31 August 2015

The humbling side of living overseas

I've received so many nice notes from you guys. You tell me that I'm living the dream you wish you could and you are living vicariously. Thank you for your sweet and inspirational notes, I'll keep the posts coming as this has become my diary of sorts. This experience is truly wonderful. However, today I want to share a more emotional side of this change...
     This move to Edinburgh has been amazing, and overwhelming, and humbling. We take for granted the knowledge we have when we live in a certain place - the contacts, the awareness, the sense of direction. Part of all this walking is to become familiar with these new people, new customs, and to discover where everything is.

The hedge at the Royal Botanic Garden.
     This new home is fabulous and challenging. For instance, I don't know where to go to buy the simplest things. What stores sell back-packs? Where do I buy new lingerie? If I need a rubbish bin (trash can), where do I get one? And even if I did know, where do you find the deals? Do I need to take a bus to get there? I'm not terribly good at those yet. But, I'm learning - slowly.

Randomly spotted sign on Thistle Street.
     And then there's the accent. In the middle of Fringe, my American accent marked me as a tourist. I heard a lot of, "Enjoy your holiday!" But now that Fringe is ending, people are starting to question why I'm still here. It's making for more interesting conversations. "We just moved here." "Really? Oh, wow!"

A pub near our new flat.
     I'm a bit of a mimic, so I imagine I'll pick up the accent soon - much to the annoyance of my friends in the states when I return, I'm guessing.

A miniature of the real ones - The Kelpies.
     I've heard people make fun of folks who pick up or adopt accents after a short time away. But now that I'm here, I get it. It's not that you're trying to be charming or cute, it's that you're simply trying to fit in, to be accepted, to not have your nationality bias the opinions of those with whom you're speaking. And while it can be fun to be different, there are times when you just want to be anonymous, to be a part of the crowd.
     So, how long does it take to feel embedded in a new place? Will being a student help me feel more a part of the heartbeat of this thriving city? How long before I know people by name and they know me? Before I'm saying 'hi' to folks on the streets?
     Ironically, Edinburgh is actually a small town and it's already happening. I'm beginning to know folks - the man who sells us our meat, our wine, our cheese. The waitress from the local pub. Last night we went to hear a band at our nearest and new favorite pub, The Barony.

Our pub.
I already know the names of two of the bartenders and they recognize us and smile warmly when we come in. (Keep in mind - pubs here are not just about drinking - these are the community gathering places.) The band was fantastic and even played Little Feet - blew our minds! It was so fun to feel a part of a local crowd in our new neighborhood. In fact, it's one thing I love most about Edinburgh, it truly is a small town despite its largesse. And while I still pinch myself over how lucky I am to be here, I have a long way to go before I feel at home. Even so, I can feel it happening bit by bit, friend by friend. Love it!

Princes Street Gardens.

4 comments :

melinda beavers said...

I know exactly what you mean about our American accent! While I was living in England, one of my biggest issues was speaking—I loathed to speak because of what it identified me as. Even though I was living there, I was a "foreigner"—I didn't "belong". I was never able to appreciate being a stranger in a strange land (I think I was just too young, too busy figuring out who I was to fully appreciate where I was), but now I think it has its advantages. Starting your classes will definitely help you "settle in". You'll connect with your peers, make friends, go to events together—and I'm looking forward to hearing all about it! -m.

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

You definitely understand, Melinda!! Thanks so much for your sweet note. I'm looking forward to school starting up! :) e

Panda in Chief said...

I am so thrilled to follow along on your journey. Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities and I am very envious that you get to spend several years there. I love it that you are becoming locals. If I make it back there I hope we can meet at your local pub and then go visit the pandas. Huzzah!

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Give me a holler if you get here Panda! :) e

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