If there was a definition for EXPATIFY (which there’s not) I’m pretty sure it would go something like this:
Acceptance of the alien nature of an environment, development of new-found tolerances, greater objectivity and appropriate coping skills.
Pretty much sums up the adjustment required when you become an expat don’t you think?
When you launch yourself into expat life — for awhile, everything seems out of kilter. For me, stepping off the plane into the neon-lit metropolis of Hong Kong was akin to plunging head first into an ocean full of hungry sharks. I was frantically treading water, doing my very best not to get swallowed up.
Everything in my new environment felt all-consuming, overwhelming and more than a little suffocating. I could literally taste the foreignness. Heart in my mouth, eyes wide like saucers, I struggled to soak in my new surroundings. The predominant and (for many) most memorable image – the rows upon rows of imposing skyscrapers that stand luminously guarding a city that’s heaving with bodies.
A city where the light never dims and everything and everyone operates in permanent overdrive. There’s not a spare patch of land in sight – roads are packed with vivid red taxis jostling for position, while on the water, ferries zip in and out, past the Junks, weaving through the hundreds of container ships, docked briefly in one of the busiest ports in the world.
Overhead, a constant buzz of helicopters criss-cross through a concrete jungle.
A fragrant harbour loaded with its distinctive smells, in every direction it’s sensory overload.