I love to travel.
I love experiencing new things.
I love getting to know other cultures.
I love seeing all the different forms of beauty all across the world.
I am spending this year traveling. I have the opportunity to experience a culture in a way that I never have had the chance to do before, full immersion. I am living in the Middle East. I am not on vacation.
I have realized in my few short months here in Kuwait that there is a significant difference in traveling for vacation and traveling by living in a new country.
When you are on vacation you stay in the most beautiful areas; a beach resort, a mountain chalet, a tree house in the rain forest. When you are living somewhere, you stay with the locals. We live in an apartment; not on the beach or with ski in/ski out capabilities. Just a regular 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment.
When you are on vacation you get a surface level understanding of a new culture; they wear dishdashas here, or the Mosque plays a beautiful call to prayer. When you live somewhere you have the opportunity to talk with people and have discussions about their culture. You learn about Allah, Haram, what is being sang when the call to prayer goes out, and how they feel about stereotypes within the American culture.
When you are on vacation life is a party. You are in a constant staying of eating, drinking, exploring, and just all around being happy. I have never woken up on vacation with my crabby pants on. While you are living in a place you get up, go to work, have stupid fights with your spouse, miss your family like crazy, and have days of just plain old waking up on the wrong side of the bed. We are experiencing all the typical emotions of life, we just happen to be on this side of the world.
When you are on vacation you go. You go exploring, you go to the beach, you go out to dinner, you go on a hike, you just go. When you live somewhere you can’t go all the time at that pace. You binge watch Homeland, you lay in bed and read a book on a lazy Saturday morning, you work on your Pinterest boards, you clean out your refrigerator, and you go grocery shopping.
When you are on vacation some place you check out the touristy places. You read Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor and learn what are the “must see places.” When you live somewhere you get to the local fruit stand, the awesome Thai place with only four tables in it, or the market that would never make its way into a guide book but is so amazing.
While I am so so happy in the life we have right now I have to remind myself from time that I am not on vacation. I need to let myself be OK with the idea that our life here isn’t going to be a constant vacation but rather a slow travel where we dig deep, form relationships, and truly live while we are here in Kuwait.