Living Abroad (as a Coping Mechanism)

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Kiseki
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29 Jun 2010, 11:43 am

I've been reading Tony Attwood's main book on Asperger's and was SERIOUSLY struck by this particular paragraph:

"When in countries with a very different culture to my own I am amazed at the number of people from English-speaking countries with Asperger's in the audience. When I was last in Japan I met Richard...who has lived in the Far East for several years. Richard explains that if he makes a social error in Japan his behavior is acknowledged as being due to cultural differences, not a deliberate attempt to offend or confuse."

"Some people with Asperger's enjoy visiting and even living in foreign countries for extended periods of time. Their differences and social blindness are then attributed to being in a foreign country rather than a mistaken assumption of willful behavior."


Now I actually am one of these people. At 26 I was depressed as hell in the US and figured the only way I could be happy was to move to another country. For some reason my head said "JAPAN." I have no idea why. But let me tell you that it worked. Everything Attwood stated in that paragraph I can wholeheartedly relate to.

I've been here 4 1/2 years now and I fear going back home. Some time ago- before I ever started thinking I might have AS- my mom asked me when I thought I'd come back to the US. I gave her this long reply that I enjoyed living here cuz it felt nice not to know what was really going on and it was nice to live somewhere but not be a PART of it. I couldn't explain myself well, but now I know what I wanted to say.

Anyone else out there lived abroad and felt this way? I am so glad to see I'm not crazy and there was a reason for my actions all along.



MotherKnowsBest
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29 Jun 2010, 11:50 am

I moved to Sweden and my husband and daughter, both AS, have found social acceptance and friends here. Of course that could be because here the social norm is very Asperger's like. :D



Kiseki
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29 Jun 2010, 11:53 am

MotherKnowsBest wrote:
I moved to Sweden and my husband and daughter, both AS, have found social acceptance and friends here. Of course that could be because here the social norm is very Asperger's like. :D


Sweden sounds like such a great country, from what I've heard. Do you feel happier and more at home there than in your home country?

Honestly, Japan's indirectness bothers me something fierce. I can hardly put up with it some days. I think I just enjoy living here as an outsider because, back home, I was made to feel like an outsider in a place I shouldn't have felt that. But here it is natural for a foreigner to feel that. So I don't mind the feeling much.



Euclid
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29 Jun 2010, 12:06 pm

I am amazed to find this being quoted as a good coping mechanism as till reading this I thought a unique way I developed for myself.

I work in England and visit Ireland to find peace and sanctuary. My girlfriend is Irish and when we are together there I am able without effort and all quite naturally to be happy. I can go to the pub, I have even been to parties..

I have never felt like part of a family, not even my own, but do feel part of something special when away from England. Curiously, my doctor has joked with me about prescribing a trip to Ireland in place of anti-depressants (they don't work for me)


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Kiseki
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29 Jun 2010, 12:08 pm

Euclid wrote:
I am amazed to find this being quoted as a good coping mechanism as till reading this I thought a unique way I developed for myself.

I work in England and visit Ireland to find peace and sanctuary. My girlfriend is Irish and when we are together there I am able without effort and all quite naturally to be happy. I can go to the pub, I have even been to parties..

I have never felt like part of a family, not even my own, but do feel part of something special when away from England. Curiously, my doctor has joked with me about prescribing a trip to Ireland in place of anti-depressants (they don't work for me)


I thought the same as you until I read this book! I knew my way of thinking about living here was strange. My mom couldn't understand me at all.

Isn't that weird that it works for you too.



Euclid
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29 Jun 2010, 12:32 pm

Kiseki wrote:
Euclid wrote:
I am amazed to find this being quoted as a good coping mechanism as till reading this I thought a unique way I developed for myself.

I work in England and visit Ireland to find peace and sanctuary. My girlfriend is Irish and when we are together there I am able without effort and all quite naturally to be happy. I can go to the pub, I have even been to parties..

I have never felt like part of a family, not even my own, but do feel part of something special when away from England. Curiously, my doctor has joked with me about prescribing a trip to Ireland in place of anti-depressants (they don't work for me)


I thought the same as you until I read this book! I knew my way of thinking about living here was strange. My mom couldn't understand me at all.

Isn't that weird that it works for you too.


One obvious reason (just a guess) is that it's like the feeling that we live on 'another planet' much of the time. Being in a foreign county means that we can be ourselves without explanation. WE can learn as much about the clearly foreign culture and language as we want but where necessary we can let locals put our apparent odd behaviour down to our foreignness.

In our native counties we are expected to understand the complex rules of society and often to act within a rather narrow set of social norms. Away from home we need only remember not to be actually rude or aggressive, but if we get other things wrong people are more likely to say to themselves something like, "they are foreigners, they do things different in their own country ...""

Does this make any sense, it's only a guess on my part!


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Kiseki
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29 Jun 2010, 12:43 pm

Euclid wrote:
One obvious reason (just a guess) is that it's like the feeling that we live on 'another planet' much of the time. Being in a foreign county means that we can be ourselves without explanation. WE can learn as much about the clearly foreign culture and language as we want but where necessary we can let locals put our apparent odd behaviour down to our foreignness.

In our native counties we are expected to understand the complex rules of society and often to act within a rather narrow set of social norms. Away from home we need only remember not to be actually rude or aggressive, but if we get other things wrong people are more likely to say to themselves something like, "they are foreigners, they do things different in their own country ...""

Does this make any sense, it's only a guess on my part!


That is totally my feeling, but I'm bad at trying to explain how I feel :oops: You did it very well! It IS like an alien going to another planet.



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29 Jun 2010, 12:46 pm

I would really like to move to another country but I can't figure out how to do it. It seems too complicated because you need a job before you even get there? I don't get it. :?


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29 Jun 2010, 12:46 pm

My husband grew up abroad and so did most of the friends I've made. Foreigners are more forgiving than my fellow Americans, in my experience. My own social experiences abroad were surprisingly pleasant, in part because I wasn't expected to do everything like a native and so I didn't worry about it, and my hosts were very happy to explain traditions with eating, etc. It was like getting a lesson on history and culture and instruction on table manners all at once, so it was easier to feel confident.

I spent a lot of time hanging out in Chinatown by myself when I lived in NYC. Drinking bubble tea, eating rice balls and lychee, going to the anime shops. Nobody looked at me funny, they just left me alone unless I asked for something, and then they treated me like every other American. It was relaxing, like I didn't even have to put much effort into it at all and they'd still think I was normal.

I guess it's all about expectations. If people expect you to be a little weird, if you're a little weird they think it's normal.



Kiseki
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29 Jun 2010, 12:47 pm

SamwiseGamgee wrote:
I would really like to move to another country but I can't figure out how to do it. It seems too complicated because you need a job before you even get there? I don't get it. :?


Yeah, that's what I did. Apply for the job in your home country, get the visa sponsored by the company and go.

If you wanna go to Asia it is easy to get a job teaching English.



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29 Jun 2010, 1:22 pm

Good topic! While I have never lived outside my native country, (USA) I have always gotten along well with foreigners, over US citizens. For example, at various workplaces, I seemed to gravitate towards people from other countries. These included natives of India, China, the Fllipene Islands, Columbia, and Mexico. These people, in turn, accepted me as I was, and were generally very tolerant and forgiving of social gaffes. They also invited me to their homes, and were genuinely upset when we parted ways. I have always fantasized about living in a foreign country. 8)


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29 Jun 2010, 1:52 pm

I spent a month in Poland last summer and I was accepted more there than I ever am here.



melbi
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29 Jun 2010, 1:57 pm

When I told a guy in uni that I have AS, he said
"oh really, i thought you're weird becoz you're foreign."


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29 Jun 2010, 2:08 pm

That passage struck me as very accurate. I've lived long term in a number of different countries and I can most strongly recommend it as long as you are relatively independent, flexible, and willing to learn and make mistakes.



deunan
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29 Jun 2010, 2:13 pm

SamwiseGamgee wrote:
I would really like to move to another country but I can't figure out how to do it. It seems too complicated because you need a job before you even get there? I don't get it. :?

me too. I desire to move but the logistics scare me.


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