Living Abroad (as a Coping Mechanism)

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Euclid
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29 Jun 2010, 2:16 pm

I am beginning to wonder if all of us here could just swap lives with each other! :)


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supernewf709
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29 Jun 2010, 2:22 pm

Moving Away worked for me i think, although i did not leave the country. I moved from one end to the other but i'd venture a guess that the social differences need not be extreme to have positive effect.



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29 Jun 2010, 2:56 pm

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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. Very Happy


I live in scandinavia as well. Social settings will always be hard, regardless of the culture, but scandinavians appear to be more emotionally cold and socially distant when dealing with strangers. When you go to the store for example, you're not 'expected' to have smalltalk with the cashiers - Just smile and say thx. . On the bus, you rarely hear people talk (unless they know each other) and avoid sitting next to others. On the contrary, people in southern cultures are generally more 'warm' and open - makes you feel appreciated and welcome, but it can get uncomfortable. I much rather prefer distance. Schools in scandinavia also put less emphasis on social activities than f.ex the american ones (this is based on my impression from litterature and movies) with less extra curricular activites. Sadly, schools focus little on diversity - it's easier for everyone to be equally capable. My impression is that weak students fall behind, are stigmatized and don't get the extra help they need. While there are no special programs for gifted students and some of them fall behind, fall into bad habits, procasinate or underachieve. Bullying, like in any countries are just as appearent in scandinavia, yet the social hierarchy and sheep mentality is probably not as strong as in America.
Obviously the people density is less than that of the US, even most cities are pretty calm and the nature is great. We also have a great wellfare system, and healthcare is free.
I'm currently on a masters program in a scandinavian university, and it's everything I hoped for basicly. However, If you want the full college experience, with heavy drinking and high party factor, it's probably not your thing.



merrymadscientist
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29 Jun 2010, 3:45 pm

I would advise not to move to France. I lived and worked there for 3.5 years because I really wanted the experience of living in another country and learning another language.

The French are notoriously intolerent of people not speaking French - with my job everything official was done in English, but all conversation happened in French and so until I learnt to speak it I was completely socially isolated. Although I learnt the grammer and quite a lot of vocabulary within 6 months, it took me 2 years before I could participate in conversations, mainly because of problems processing what other people were saying (and I think I had this in English when I was a child) meaning that a sentence composed of words I knew would be totally unintelligable. Coupled with my frequent mutism, which was much worse in French than it is in English (probably because I wasn't very happy there), this meant I barely communicated at all and people thought I was being deliberately rude. Bizarrely, before I went I was convinced I would be the life and soul of the party in French within 6 months - when I went for interview I did find them easier to get along with, but I can't keep up this level of social interaction for long and they soon saw what I was really like (I knew I was shy and awkward socially, but had no idea of possible AS and thought I could overcome all that as moving to France was my dream and life was going to be 'great'!).

To make things worse, social rules in France are particularly marked - the system is far more rigid than in England and it is the only place I have worked in where there were obvious social hierarchies (as distinct from hierarchies of ability/experience, which I accept as being important in a work situation). I didn't really realise this until after I left, but on reflexion it is obvious who was at the top - I think I started in the middle as I was good at my job and probably tolerated as a foreigner, but rapidly descended as I couldn't follow the social rules, and probably my spell in the local loony bin didn't help (although this was the one time when I did feel as though I fitted in OK socially ironically - in fact I was rather popular amongst the other patients). The main social rule (although there may be many I am unaware of) is that of saying hello to everyone the first time you meet them that day, and goodbye again at the end. For some reason, greetings are one of the things I am appalling at - in theory they should be easy, but I often don't notice people, or notice them but by the time I've thought about a greeting and put it to mouth they have gone past, forget whether I have already seen them that day, find it very awkward and false to say hello in a situation where I don't find it necessary or I am in a mute phase and am very unwilling to speak at all.

Maybe France was a bad place to choose, but in general I don't find foreigners easier to get along with than British people. I find there is often something familiar and comforting about speaking to someone British - the patterns are easier to follow due to years of practise and more similar life experiences. Drinking occurs more commonly with social events which makes me feel less awkward (although appear very odd rather than normal but shy - I'd rather be outgoing and odd though). Certainly, after coming back home after my time in France, I was amazed at how simple and unthreatening social interactions (with admittedly a group of old friends) were. People (particularly in my profession - science) seem a lot more tolerent of eccentricism in this country - in France I can't really think of anyone who would be considered eccentric where I worked, whereas there are numerous examples in my current department, and individuality is welcomed rather than frowned upon.

Oh yes, and I completely forgot to add that the experience both of setting up home in France, and moving back were incredibly stressful - the first time unanticipated, the second time anticipated (and therefore worried about) far too much. Trying to live in an unfamiliar culture is anxiety inducing, and doing it all alone (so there is noone else to fall back on at all) is even more so. Saying that, I am still glad for the experience, but don't expect it to be a piece of cake.



Last edited by merrymadscientist on 29 Jun 2010, 3:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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29 Jun 2010, 3:50 pm

I don't think I'd mind moving to another country. My top two choices are either England or Japan. England because they already speak english there and I wouldn't have to bother with learning another language, or Japan because I've been obsessed with Japanese culture for years.



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29 Jun 2010, 3:56 pm

Cuterebra wrote:
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.


I was born and grew up abroad, lived in my parents home country for a while and then moved to another country similar (English-speaking) to theirs. I found the notion of being "weird" was strongest in the home country, where everyone has very fixed expectations of how people should behave and what they should think.

The downside of the observation that living foreign helps is that psychs sometimes recommend it, i.e. saying something like "have you thought of moving somewhere else". I have been asked / told this a number of times, and it feels like being punched in the stomach - so it is a valid suggestion, but it should be made with care.



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29 Jun 2010, 4:01 pm

If it were just me (I take care of a very disabled partner) I'd probably join the Peace Corp after graduation and ask to get sent to Guatemala. I'd love to work somewhere in Central America for a few years before settling in to teaching.

If I could retire to a foreign country, I'd definitely choose Spain.

When I speak Spanish to people, I feel more socially accepted and socially adept than when I converse in my native English. Sometimes I've had people laugh at my accent (when I asked what was so funny, I was told I was talking like someone on television, not like a real person. Though I guess some of that over-formality would eventually go away if I lived in a Spanish-speaking country, though probably not all of it since I'm a bit overly-formal in English as well.) but never laugh at me or at the things I'm saying.

That's part of why I love Spanish so much.


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29 Jun 2010, 4:04 pm

Though I'm Canadian, I have American relatives, and I seem to get along better with Americans than Canadians. Go figure, eh?



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29 Jun 2010, 5:37 pm

Sparrowrose wrote:
When I speak Spanish to people, I feel more socially accepted and socially adept than when I converse in my native English. Sometimes I've had people laugh at my accent (when I asked what was so funny, I was told I was talking like someone on television, not like a real person. Though I guess some of that over-formality would eventually go away if I lived in a Spanish-speaking country, though probably not all of it since I'm a bit overly-formal in English as well.) but never laugh at me or at the things I'm saying.

That's part of why I love Spanish so much.


When I was a kid we moved to Panama and for the first time and last time, I had a great circle of friends and what I think a normal social life must be like. :) Only one of my 12-15 friends was American. I was extremely happy there. That passage in Attwood struck me, too, because I was immediately accepted there and had a very easy time of things socially. The problem came when I moved back to the states and was immediately singled out and bullied shamelessly.

Sparrowrose, you made me think of how I have an entirely different persona that seems to express itself when I speak Spanish. In English, I sound like a girl, but in Spanish, it's like a woman is speaking. It's so different!



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29 Jun 2010, 5:53 pm

Euclid wrote:
I am beginning to wonder if all of us here could just swap lives with each other! :)


Yeah, we need to set up a giant house swap and just change things up. That'd be awesome.


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29 Jun 2010, 6:02 pm

I AM moving to France in August but my situation is a little different. My husband is French and he got a job as a professor so it is actually a government job which is probably the best job to have in France. It is next to impossible to loose your job and we get a lot of perks. Also we already have the handicap cards for my kids and we have a house ready for us and my kids are going to school about 100 yards away. Actually my husband got an email today from my Auties new teacher wanting to know all about her.
Im thinking it will be easier for me as I am not French nor speak a lot of French. I do not like to be social and I dont mind being the odd American LOL.
I hear a lot of people saying the French are intolerant of Americans but I have been there twice and the only place I had any problem was Paris. Mainly because its a big city....people have the big city mentality. Then again maybe it is because I have a French husband but everyone was very nice to me.



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29 Jun 2010, 6:50 pm

This sounds like a great idea, I'm off to the north pole tomoz.


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Sparrowrose
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29 Jun 2010, 6:52 pm

Moog wrote:
This sounds like a great idea, I'm off to the north pole tomoz.


The avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson has a great piece where she talks about the time she hitch-hiked to the North Pole.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDSkVBwwKuY[/youtube]


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Moog
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29 Jun 2010, 6:54 pm

Oh superman, he don't live at the north pole, does he>? Just kidding.

I really enjoyed that, she's got a great voice hasn't she?


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29 Jun 2010, 7:10 pm

Moog wrote:
Oh superman, he don't live at the north pole, does he>? Just kidding.

I really enjoyed that, she's got a great voice hasn't she?


I've been in love with her voice and her talent since my late teens!

Once I was dating a man and Laurie Anderson was coming to town to perform. I told him we HAD to go see her and he said okay, not quite knowing what he was getting himself into (his tastes ran toward Presidents of the United States and the Buzzcocks.) Five minutes into the show, I looked over at him and there were tears streaming down his face, he was so overwhelmed and moved by what she was doing.

Her work frequently sends chills up my spine.


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