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AHHH YES Learning to Adjust

Homesickness hits us all here in Panama.  Of course, any place you move to outside the US you will find the same thing.
 
For me it took about three months to hit.  You’re so busy doing this and that to prepare for your leaving the US and so happy about your new life that awaits you.  When you get here, you have shopping to do, moving into your new home, people to meet and greet. You’re happy with all the new things to see and do around you; the music the food, the weather… ahhh, so nice.
 
For many of you this move is possible because you have retired, 25 or more years of being in the same place, working the same job, you have set roots down deep and even though you might not enjoy your work, it still pays for the things in life you wish to have. We all have dreamed at our job about the sunny beach home or just to be able to not have to get up and go to work. This of course is a two-sided blade.
 
When you have retired and moved here to Panama all of the sudden you don't have to get up and be someplace, you don't have a job to do and for many people even though you thought that was what you wanted, you find that you’re lost and have no purpose. How are you going to fill your days?  No job to get up and go do.  Humm…  you can only read so many books, watch TV.  It’s at this time is when you feel like you want to be back home, but again back home you are going to have the same problem: what to do with yourself with a job to go to.
 
I know how it is, people speaking all around you and you really don't understand a thing, you can't even read a newspaper, and you really don't like the bad service or no one being able to get things done in a timely manner. You get fed up with everything and then and you start to complain.  It is very easy to fall into this trap here.
 
Now what you need to do is run into people like you but who have been here a while.  Heck, buy me dinner and just ask a question or two and listen.  A wise man once said, one cannot learn if one is speaking.  These people are the ones that can help you in this time, they can share what they have learned and talk about what they like to do; maybe this type of hobby you could do, or they might give of their time to help others here with projects.  We have the Green Team, whose volunteers help with trash on our streets, and we have a pet team that helps all cats and dogs and any type of animal.  Many people help teach the young people here, while others do art classes.  The bottom line is you have a lifetime of knowledge that many people here could learn from. We have people who act in plays and some who form bands and go out and play.
 
It is very easy though to allow all the bad and all your changes to turn you from a great person everyone loves to be around, to someone that no one wants to see coming.  I call it cabin fever, when you have not had someone to speak English to in so long that once you get to you speak non stop for hours on end, telling everything you have in your data bank, or you’re in the “I hate everything about my life” stage and all you can do is complain about everything.  They didn't pick up my trash this week!!!  OH MY!!! 
 
You have to learn to not let things bother you.  I know that's a hard thing to do.  Even now I will get mad about something and I just have to say, “Well, it is what it is” and move on.  A few months ago they double billed me on my water bill, stating I had not paid it when I did, so is US $7 worth ruining your week over?  Not to me.  Pay it and move on. Pick your battles.
 
I had to stop the other day and jump out and just look at where I live.  There was a huge area of pink flowers that come out for a short while and then die off, but wow, I had to stand there and take a look at the mountains all around me, and how green everything looked.  I walked down to the stream and sat there and just listened as the stream sang her song against the rocks as she went by on her way to the ocean.  As I walked down to the water’s edge the Jesus lizards took off, all running for the safety of the other side to get away from the big scary human that was standing in their living room.  If you don't know what a Jesus lizard is, watch this:
 
 
These little guys are very common here and really fun to watch them run right across the water.
 
In time you will chill, and things will get easier for you.  You will start to learn new words, find new friends, see the world around you, find new places to eat and many things to eat you might have never seen or heard of before, and I have found many of those to be really tasty. You will learn who has the best of whatever your looking for.
 
How would you like to wave your arm at a passing truck and buy fresh fish and shrimp caught that day?  Or maybe off to the fish market to pick from just about anything that is in that ocean, which is now on ice and ready for you to take home and cook up?  It's all here waiting on you, and once you’re here get out of the house and go find it all!!
Posted in  How I Dealt With Homesickness When I Moved Abroad
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