Have you ever dreamed of moving to a new country and leaving behind, not only your job, home and familiar life, but also your old personality?
You want to escape the old you or at least the parts of you that are so tiresome and boring and repetitive and hard to change.
Old thought patterns and habits that hold you back in life. Shyness, timidity, irritability, obsessiveness, laziness, the list goes on. Perhaps the only thing that will jolt you awake is a total change of scenery. The challenges of a new country and the need to start afresh might reveal parts of your personality hitherto unexplored!
I moved to Barcelona with some hopes like these. I am naturally shy and too self conscious especially when I am with strangers. I react badly to criticism and am over-sensitive when I feel rejected. I want to be spontaneous but tend to over-plan everything I do.
I had noticed that Mediterranean people seem to be more confident, outgoing, social, expressive, straight talking, emotional, spontaneous…….. I wanted some of that. I hoped to discover those parts hidden deep in my own psyche and to find a new me!
So what has changed in the 5 years since I moved here?
1. I now find it hard to eat without a napkin although I never needed one before.
People here always use napkins – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now when eating in the UK I start to twitch and look around me anxiously when there is nothing to wipe my fingers and mouth on. Even when I don’t use a napkin, I want it to be there beside my plate.
2. I turn out lights.
My partner is very concerned about lights being left on and not a day passes without this conversation:-
Him: “Do you need this light on?”
Him: “So why do you have one on in the hall/bathroom/sittingroom/bedroom as well?”
Me: “Because I am moving between rooms”
But I find that now when I go back to the UK I am hyper-aware of people lighting up their houses like Christmas trees and I too go around turning off lights. Even in Granollers, I try not to have more than two rooms lit. I can’t leave a light on without being conscious of it.
3. I eat fruit and vegetables only when they are in season
If they are imported – I don’t. I now can’t buy grapes all year round. I rarely buy kiwis, I don’t expect to have peaches or nectarines except in June and July. Shopping in fresh produce markets has made this change in me. The wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables that are available here make it seem ridiculous to buy imported stuff.
4. I now drink UHT milk in my tea without making a big deal of it
I too used to complain “you can’t get a proper cup of tea in France/Spain/Italy because the milk isn’t fresh.” Now I don’t notice it and I even quite like the fact that our milk lasts so long and that we can store lots of packs of it in the cupboard.
5. I have changed when and how I eat.
I still have breakfast of toast and porridge, but then there is a long gap before lunch which we sometimes eat as late as 4pm. Supper may not happen until 9.30pm or even later. We eat a large lunch and something smaller later. It works for me and feels good for my stomach.
And what about the deeper changes I hoped for?
Have I become a more confident, outgoing, social, expressive, straight talking, emotional, spontaneous person?
This is hard to say. I certainly do have more confidence and am less self conscious. I don’t mind being the stranger in town. I can talk with people who I don’t know and in two different languages. I always was affectionate and because people here kiss and hug and touch each other more often, it is easier for me to do this too. I have learned many new things but am basically still the same person underneath, just a bit older and a lot wiser.
And I have taught myself to shout out “Bravo” and “Molt Be” when the marathon passes!
Have you ever dreamed of moving abroad and starting afresh with a new you?
Perhaps you already made the move and found the ‘old you’ came along too?
I’d love to hear about you. If you have changed your spots by moving home or if you’d like to, leave a comment and tell me what happened.
Thanks for coming to read this post – I hope you’ll come back soon! If you want to stay in touch then Like my Catalan Way Facebook page at the top right of this post or sign up for regular updates.
Till the next one, best wishes from Catalunya and from me, Kate