Living abroad – to see or not to see?
Once you’ve unpacked, found a job, worked out the transport system, and all the other things that come with settling in to your adopted country, you can finally start enjoying your new surroundings. A month or so down the line you might feel like taking a trip, a weekend in a neighbouring city to discover some of the local culture for example.
When I lived in Italy I took many a day trip or long weekend to explore the area. I visited Pompeii, Capri, ancient cathedrals and even more ancient ruins. Granted, Italy has a fantastic number of world famous cultural and historical sites, that probably should be seen once in a lifetime. The question is, do they need to all be seen in the six months you are living there? The problem being the pressure, you feel you must see all these undoubtedly amazing wonders while you are still in the country, as if you can never return after you leave.
As a result, I took quite a few short breaks that were as hectic and stressful as a whirlwind tour can be, we rushed from monument to ruin in a short space of time. Being an expat is a great opportunity to unearth places of interest and soak up the local culture, but I think it’s not unreasonable to want a weekend at home once in a while. Should I feel guilty for not having seen all the area’s amazing heritage?
The thing is, when you’re living in a country daily life takes over. When you’re not working or studying you may well be washing clothes, cleaning the apartment; and why begrudge yourself a lazy Sunday meeting friends and reading the newspapers? Some people set aside a day every two weeks or month to sight-see and discover something new about their new home. Failing that, make the most of friends and family coming to visit and play tourist with them!