The Downside of Being an Expatriate

Living away from home is a lot of fun. The four seasons, the lifestyle, the travel, it’s all fun and games – until you realize – your body is paying a price.

This is not really a rant post – but more like something for you to consider if you plan to work away from home.

I’ve been told that the time it takes for acclimatization in Siberia is 3 years. I don’t know how true this is – but I can tell you that I am still not fully acclimatized to Norwegian weather. It’s nobody’s fault – it’s just that it takes a lot of time for my body to get adjusted to the climate here. Here are some of the sad things I’ve experienced:

1. Acne – it seems acne is worse in cold weather than warm weather. Who knew? I was told that by my dermatologist recently – guess I should have done a bit more research before moving ;)

2. Dry skin – oooh this one is bad. I actually have oily skin – or combination – but in Winter, my skin can get dry enough to itch and peel. It’s a really strange feeling, not to mention how unflattering it can look. Takes a few days usually, to moisturize it back into shape. Dry hands are another story – it is actually possible to have hands so dry that parts of your hand have dark spots due to dead cells. This type of dryness stings when the skin comes in contact with warm water. The solution? Heaps of hand creme. I think I can open a small shop with the amount of moisturizer I hoard :)

3. Food – a lot of European countries are not very used to people like me who do not eat beef. It is a strange request, indeed, to say “I don’t eat beef – but I will eat chicken, fish, pork, duck, prawns, and lamb.” I get a lot of strange looks. Also a lot of dishes do have some form of meat but you won’t know what meat it is. This is known as “big animal meat” sometimes and it can usually be a mixture of pork and beef. So to be on the safe side – I don’t eat anything that does not say one of the following: chicken, fish, pork, duck, prawns, and lamb. That way my conscience is clear :)

4. Ice – trying to walk on ice is like the best way to learn how to do a split. Really :) If you keep slipping on ice, at some point, you’ll definitely be able to do a split that will make your Yoga and Stretching teachers proud. But, jokes aside, walking on ice takes a lot of patience. I’m not very good at it. I have fallen down about 3 times I think – in 2008. That’s when I realized it was time for new winter shoes. I fell down and hit my right knee all three times. I can’t say it was fun, but I’m much more careful now. I buy a new pair of winter shoes almost every winter to be on the safe side. With the right shoes, you will manage – but I will probably never invite my parents to come visit during winter – the ice on the ground is not worth the risk for elderly people especially my parents who have never had to endure harsh winters before.
So there you go – some things to consider if you’re moving from home to work elsewhere :)

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5 responses

  1. Aww hang in there babe! But wait, I always thought staying in cold weather countries actually makes your skin nicer? Coz when we were in the US/China/OZ, i found myself having less breakouts (infact I swear there was a slightttt glow too) coz of the cooling weather. Then again,was just there for a short while, who knew!

    • I thought so too! So when the dermatologist said that in warmer countries, you normally get less acne – I was very surprised. Should have thought about that before relocating :)

  2. Oh..my skin usually gets really well behaved when I am out of India…and I am a vegetarian..so you can imagine the problem I have getting something to eat that’s not deep-fried potato :D

    • Lucky you :)

      Actually it is possible to find some good veggie dishes outside of India. One safe option is Margherita pizza – this is always made with tomato, basil and mozzarella cheese. Also an Italian option is Quattro Formaggi which literally means 4 cheeses. It’s a pizza made from four types of cheese. Another option is Mexican Burritos. A lot of Mexican restaurants have vegetarian versions for this which usually includes black beans and sometimes even grilled eggplant slices. If you are eating Spanish food (like tapas), they have Patatas Bravas which is like fried potatoes in wonderful tomato sauce. Minestrone soup is usually vegetarian but you might want to ask which stock they use (usually it’s veggie stock, but some people use meat stock out of habit). A very safe place to get authentic vegetarian cuisine is actually Thai restaurants – they usually have all their curries with a tofu option. If you’re in a Japanese restaurant – try Kappa Maki – it is a seaweed covered rice roll with cucumber filling.

      • Wowwww..apart from the pizza and the Mexican, everything else is new to me..will write it down somewhere so I don’t forget :) :)

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