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Tuesday, June 29th "Expats at home"

Just where they hell have I been? Good question. The last month has been a long one due to planning for various events, getting engaged, launching a portion of a new website - hotels section - and finally a trip back to my "native land", where I am now. Living abroad often means visiting home unless you've decided to cut everyone off in your former life. I might add moving abroad and cutting off everyone in your previous life is probably not a good idea. I add this as I type from a desk at my former employer, who was so kind and let me use their broadband connection. Ok, back to the trip...There exist a number of common phenomena for that trip back home once you've established yourself in your new country:

The visits:
How many people have you not seen in the last year? DId you keep up with the people from your old job? What about relatives? I came with a long list of people to see and I started the very first day. The more you get out of the way - no offense to my good friends out there - the easier it is in the end. Along with this comes...

The repeat visits:
Did you have a good time the first night out? Why not set up another time to get together just to make your schedule a little harder. The good friends fall into this category so there is always the most pressure to see them once more.

The drinks:
It's been so long since I've seen you - how about another beer? How about another? What about a shot or a copa? Reunions are dangerous - everyone wants to celebrate including you. But you have to continue on with this while they get to recover. Maybe I'm getting old but I can't continue at the pace I did in my college years.

Did you know a pair of jeans costs about 1/4 or 1/3 of the price in the U.S. as in Spain? What about those $5 t-shirts which are better than anything else I'll find in Seville for $10 and up? Oh, I need a new compact flash card which is much cheaper here. And the exchange rate isn't helping, either. It was good enough for me to buy a laptop this time!

The food:
I missed NC bbq, a good steak, a very good hamburger, Dr Pepper, Root Beer and various other things. Most I didn't know I missed until I saw them again. This leads to a lot of eating and of course putting on a few pounds.

Keeping up with work has been a difficult prospect. Buying a new laptop doesn't mean an instant start. Mail accounts must be configured, large files and other items need restoring, virus and anti-spyware programs must be installed. Communication on a 6 hour time difference is always fun. Trying not to drop the ball on a few projects is also an issue.

The necessities:
Of them many appointments like: doctor, eye doctor, dentist, accountant, lawyer, two banks. Bills and random mail must be sorted through, tax items and real estate issues.

Time shrinks:
With all the appointments, visits to friends, the necessities, the food the travel what seems like a large amount of time becomes smaller by the minute. Last week I realized the impossibility of several items on my list. Now just a few days away from return I have crossed even more off the list. All the work I thought I would get done, well, it's getting done but not as much as I would like.

The living situation:
So you're home, right? Well, it's not exactly home anymore. If you are spending a lot of time you may want to get out and visit others. Soon you're shuffling off to apartments and houses of friends and family. You came with your bags and now it's several smaller trips later and you're just carrying around less stuff each time. Meanwhile you leave a trail, your bags become more disorganized and you begin to dread the day you have to pack it all up again and go back to your new home. In between all this you feel like a perpetual guest - never really able to kick off your shoes, sit on the couch and watch whatever you want to watch on tv tonight. You're home alright, but your not in your own home.

Missing home:
I miss Granada - not the city, but my girlfriend - whoops, I did mention we got engaged so she is my fiance (no accent written) here. Not all trips can be taken together and this should be the last one I take alone. I miss my home where I have more control over my surroundings! I miss tapas, Cruzcampo, pedestrian streets, friends. I do not miss the heat.