5 Signs You’ve Been Abroad Too Long

If you’ve been abroad for long you’ve noticed that your host culture has a way of creeping up on you. What was initially foreign slowly becomes normal. You begin to adopt the practices of your surroundings.


5 tongue-in-cheeks signs that you've been abroad too long.


Which, inevitably, comes back to bite you the next time you arrive on the familiar shores of home. Below are five signs that you’ve been abroad for too long. :)


1. You Pick Up Local Slang


You know you’ve been abroad for too long when you find yourself getting ridiculously excited by local slang from your home country. I never thought I used much slang until I traveled abroad and phased out my usage as I realized that non English speakers didn’t always understand what I meant. It’s perhaps no wonder then that when a fellow Brit I’d just met in New Zealand said she was ‘just nipping to the loo’ I became way too over excited. I was great hearing someone else use such a common phrase back home (FYI it means going to the toilet).

On the other hand, being English I say things like trousers instead of pants. We just say pants for underwear, and I still have a little giggle to myself every time some says ‘pants’, so living abroad can be pretty amusing too! It’ll be interesting to know how much Kiwi slang I’ve picked up while being in New Zealand, ‘Jandals’ have replaced ‘Flip flops’, and ‘no worries’ has replaced ‘you’re welcome’.

– Gemma from Gemma Jane Adventures


2. You Haggle


Signs you've been abroad too long.

Once upon a time the thought of bartering a price stopped me cold. It’s about as far from my American culture as you can get. But recently while in Sri Lanka I found myself talking a tuk tuk driver down on his price without giving it a second thought.

You’re never going to pay local prices, and that’s okay. But usually you can shave a little off the “tourist tax”.


3. You Expect Great Service


Signs you've been abroad too long.


Ideas about customer service completely morph while you’re abroad. Living in Korea, I’ve become somewhat of a spoiled-brat. Servers at restaurants come to your beck and call at the push of a button (literally) because tables come equipped with “ding-dong” bells to get the waitstaff’s attention. After every shopping purchase, you are usually given full-sized samples of cool products like socks and nail polish remover.

When I went back to the USA for a quick visit, I was appalled to see that a simple haircut with shampoo cost more than $40 after tips! In Korea, not only do you get your hair shampooed, conditioned, and rinsed, but you also get an unlimited amount of refreshments and snacks served to you including ice cream and to top it of, you get a head, back, AND hand massage! And you are almost attended by two people at the very least. The total cost: 12,000 won or $10, no tipping required. When my brother came to visit, I took him out for a haircut. Let’s just say his standards have changed too.

-Izzy from The Next Somewhere


4. You Cut In Line


Signs you've been abroad too long.

photo credit http://www.laflinesque.com/?p=747


Line? What line? Anyone who’s been abroad long learns that there’s no such thing as an orderly queue. And if you want to get what you need this side of Sunday, you’re going to need to assert yourself. And stand uncharacteristically close to others.

Recently at an airport in India I realized (in hindsight) that I had cut to the front of a line in a restaurant. Twice! The poor westerners in line must have thought I was terribly rude.


5. You Think in Too Many Languages


I am an Indian brought up in Dubai, moved to Uk and now I live in Belgium. I have lived long in Belgium and we order a beer saying ”een pintje” – One pint in Dutch. When I was in India last time for a trip, I ended up saying the same at a bar.

-VIshanth from Vishualization

If you’re attempting to learn the local language you’ll find your mind constantly working through how to say something in your language and the second language. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself in the shower conjugating verbs. Or lying in bed at night and have a wandering thought demand to be translated.



All of this is said, tongue-in-cheek, of course. Is there really such a thing as being abroad too long? :) And there are so many more that could be listed. We had a lot of fun coming up with a bunch over on our facebook page.

What would you add to the list? :)





Riding the Delhi Metro During Crush Hour

The Delhi Metro.


Holy Moly, you guys.


A bit of advice for expats braving the Delhi Metro.


Hands down, riding the Delhi metro is the most chaotic traveling situation I’ve ever been in.


Important Travel Tip:


If you ask directions, ask a minimum of three people for the same bit of advice.


Never forget that your culture travels with you only in your heart. You may very well find that while traveling in Asia you’ll never hear the words “I don’t know”. If you ask a question, you will be given an answer. Regardless of if the person knew the answer.


Aaaaand, that’s how we find ourselves a little lost on the Delhi Metro on a recent day trip. Thankfully it didn’t cause a problem for our schedule but we did waste a good hour.


Delhi Metro Sign

Also, it comes in handy to know how to read Hindi. I realize most tourists won’t have that skill at their disposal. I read Hindi like a kindergartner but it was encouraging to be able to read “You are here” once or twice. Of course, after painstakingly reading this Hindi metro sign, I found a sign in English at the other end of the platform.


I was feeling pretty hard core for riding the metro in Delhi, in standing room only, until we switched lines. Nothing can prepare you for the Blue Line during rush hour. Or as it’s affectionately called, crush hour. It looks a lot like this.


delhi metro rush hour

People clawing their way out. People pushing their way in. Intense is an understatement.


Once you’re in the crowd to get on, you couldn’t not board if you tried. Everyone behind you pushes in a collective effort to cram as many sardines people as possible onto to train. I never could have imagined that so many bodies could fit in one compartment. “Standing room only” doesn’t properly describe it. You’re packed in so tightly, if someone passed out, they’d continue to stand upright.


Also, fair warning – there may be groping. My fifteen year experienced some wandering hands.


But that’s not the hard part. The truly scary bit is trying to get back off. After you’ve been squished into the train, at every stop after that you continue to somehow get forced further and further away from the door. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Seriously zip.


So you’d better be good and ready when your stop comes. Elbows out, people. You yell and push to get to the door because you only get one chance. We barely got all six of us off, with my husband pulling up the rear and kicking the doors back open.


riding the metro

In hindsight, not a great way to travel with kids. There’s a very real chance of getting separated, I would think. Jeremy and I both clung desperately to our youngest two so they wouldn’t get trampled or left behind.


The picture to the right is my daughter when we only thought we were crowded. Soon after that the Blue Line put us in our place.




Have you ever ridden the metro anywhere?




The Foothills of the Himalayas

We ran into a fantastic bit of luck being able to nestle into the foothills of the Himalayas for the first leg of our South Asian adventure.

Himalayan foothills

                      The view from our yard. No really.

First of all, we drove 30 kilometers and the temperature dropped 30 degrees. In August. Yes please.

Second of all, hellooooo. That view.

Being from a place that’s sea level, flat, with zero visibility, these hills are amazeballs. (Do people still say amazeballs? Sigh. I’m streets behind.) Also, “hills”, my shrinking backside.  Not owning wheels, plus either going up or down no matter where you need to be, it’s almost impossible not to lose weight. Between hiking to run errands and all of my processed, American vices being taken from me in one fell swoop, I’ve lost 25 lbs in just under three months.

Himalayan foothills

This fantastic photo was taken by a friend.


I still see (white) people out running occasionally. And I’ve even heard there’s a cross-fit gym not far from us. No thank you, crazy white people. I get enough exercise walking to and from language school every day.