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The Most Important Thing To Do When You Move To Panama

Presented with permission from Bob Adams of Retirement Wave
 
Folks often ask me what’s important that I do when I get to Panama.
 
“Do I need to learn the language?”
 
“Is there some place I can go to learn the culture?”
 
“Should I travel around the country?”
 
Basically, while all these things are interesting and they’re good things to do, the most important thing for the entirety of the time you’re here, in fact, regardless of where you go, is flexibility, and I can’t stress that enough.
 
One of the problems that we have in this day and age (particularly those of us who are over 50, but actually pretty much for everybody), is that change is happening so rapidly, and we have images.  We have images of Latin America, we may have images of Panama, we may have images of macho guys running around and all sorts of nonsense about revolutions in the street, and they just don’t fit the reality any more.  One thing that you always hear from people who worked in Panama back in the 1980s and 1990s and so forth is that when they come back 10 or 15 or 20 years later and they can’t believe it.  So much has changed, its stunning.
 
This is not just true here in Panama; it’s true all over the world.  But Panama’s economic growth has been so dynamic (4 or 5 or 6 times faster on an annual basis year after year than is true in North America or Europe, for example) that we’re growing and changing all the time.
 
Panamanians have to work hard at keeping up with the development in their own country.  For them, it’s as much of a surprise as for anyone else.  No one had predicted this.  It’s working.  It’s coming together beautifully for them.  They’re very pleased and they’re very proud of what’s happening here, but they have to work very hard to keep up with the changes, too.  Folks coming in from the outside, who come in with some sort of image that they have in their minds of what a Latin American country is like from 1985 or 1990 (the last century, basically) are just going to be quite surprised.
 
So, the critical thing to do when you come here is to be prepared to learn from the date you arrive.  In other words, you come to discover.  You aren’t coming to find what you expect to be here, you come to discover what is here.  It’s a much easier way to do it.  And then when things don’t work out and don’t look exactly the way you thought it was going to, OK, you can deal with that, because you’re here to learn.  You’re a student.  So be a student.  When you’re here for the first year, the first couple of years, study.  The student life is a nice life.  You get to travel around, talk with people and look around you, but don’t get stuck in this rigid thinking “This is what Latin America is like”, “This is what Panama is like”, “This is what foreign nations are like”—forget it.  You’re out of date.
 
So, take some advice from someone who’s been through this many times before and who’s made mistakes many times in his life: don’t come down expecting something.  Come down to learn something, to discover, to look around.  Have a good time while you’re doing it and you can make a real home here.  It can be very comfortable and enjoyable if you’re flexible enough to come down and open up and learn.  That’s I think the most important thing you can bring down with you.  It’s in your head, it’s in your attitude, and it’s how you look at life.  
Posted in  Lessons About Moving Abroad
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