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adapting..... cultural change, different society, alcohol disapproval

(14 Posts)
burek Mon 19-Feb-07 09:42:39

New to mumsnet. Happy to see there is a whole section for Living Abroad - think I'll be dropping in regularly. Have lived abroad lots as a kid/teen/early 20s but it feels very different this time. Maybe because now I am a mum and understand more about how much I miss family and home... I'm in central Bosnia (anyone else in the region?). I've been here 8 months and it's been fine apart from all the usual massive ups and downs. It's just been hitting me lately how I can't really 'be myself' here, in the sense of going out and socialising. It's a small town (everybody knows everybody and sees everything) and having a beer in a bar is not exactly frowned upon severly but it is 'noted'. I'm not a big party animal in the UK so I'm not missing big nights out on the town but I feel far more controlled here. As if I constantly need to be aware of my image in society. Anyone else going through this kind of thing?

admylin Wed 21-Feb-07 08:40:56

Hi, welcome to mumsnet! I know what you mean about it being different when you have kids. I used to travel alot and loved every country, all the new cultures and was open to new and foreign stuff but since I had my 2 dc and am still abroad it all feels different. I get home sick although I never did before and I find things strange rather than interesting - so have to spend alot of my energy trying to integrate and fit in without openly critisiziing things.
How often do you travel back to your family?

burek Wed 21-Feb-07 15:40:03

I haven't been back yet but my family have been over lots. It seems like we've had a visit from someone in the family every month so far although I'm sure it hasn't been that much! I'm hoping to go back in August/September for a wedding. I miss things and people but so far don't feel the urge to go back. I know what you mean about focusing on not being too negative about things that are different from Uk. It would be too easy to get in to a downwards spiral that way and end up not enjoying anything about being somewhere new. Where are you living? Thanks for the welcome BTW.

admylin Wed 21-Feb-07 17:32:56

I'm in germany - was in the south and hated it but now in Berlin and find ir bearable but would still be prepared to move away within a couple of weeks so not really "living" at all, more like waiting..!

burek Wed 21-Feb-07 17:35:16

how long have you been away then? and is it because of your/or partner's job? Not being nosey really, just nice chatting to someone in same boat!

admylin Wed 21-Feb-07 17:42:11

It's a long story but at the moment it's all dh's fault! No seriously though, I met him here when I came to learn German to complement my studies in France (wanted to be a translator now I'm stuck without any usefull qualifications really) I've stayed at home with the dc to enable him to finish his PhD and now he's at the bottom of his career ladder, going up fast. Life would be alot easier on me if we were in the UK.
Why are you in Bosnia? Are you learning the language?

burek Thu 22-Feb-07 17:11:30

We moved to Bosnia last June to start a new life abroad. After having ds we felt our priorities in life had changed of course and no longer wanted to slog away ten hours a day and work shifts just to pay for a house we only used for sleeping and to pay for someone else to raise ds... so hence a lifestyle change. We had already bought a house and land here after numerous visits in the past. We've started a business (language services company as it happens) and hope to expand in to something in tourism over the coming year too, in anticipation of a growth in that industry.
Got to say, after having run a translation agency for a long time in the past, that you are in a very flexible field. if you still want to be a translator you could register with as many agencies as you can find in the UK and other countries and although it might be slow to start with you will gain enough experience over time to gain status and reputation in that world. Efficient and perfectionist translators are always in high demand and get lots of repeat business, whatever their career paths. A lot of the translators I used to employ were stay at home mums who did it on a part time basis. Didn't mean to ramble on so much but feel free to ask any other questions about it if you are interested.
How old is your dc?

admylin Fri 23-Feb-07 12:11:56

Sorry I didn't see your message 'till today. Yes, I think translating would be a good job for me, I always loved learning languages. German is very difficult to learn to perfection though! I always cringe when I see things that have been wrongly translated or obviously not been proof read by a native speaker at least! The welcome booklet for Berlin has been translated into loads of languages and I found mistakes on the first page. The government should change their translators for sure!
So how were you welcomed by the locals? Do you find them friendly? Here in germany there is a big difference between north and south and I feel more at ease here in Berlin than down south. They were really tough down there, hard to get to know and very unfriendly or so they came across as being unfriendly but infact that's just how they are.

burek Sat 24-Feb-07 20:22:14

My thoughts exactly - proofreading by native speakers is absolutely essential. I too have seen far too many cringeworthy translations. And that's why final editing/proof reading is one of the services we're offering in our company. This country needs it badly! Maybe you should set up as a free lance proof reader and offer your service to existing translators, government bodies, etc.? Sorry, don't mean to interfere, I can't help getting enthusiastic about these things!
Bosnians are very friendly people actually, once they get over the initial shock of anyone actually wanting to come and live here! Once people know why we are here and what our hopes are for our business etc the majority of people are really pleased that there is this interest in their country and we have been made to feel very welcome. Really the only thing that bothers me about life here is the need to be always aware of your image in society (so not being seen drinking alcohol and staying out in town without a husband), and I'm not sure whether that is just because it is a small town, because it is just the way Bosnians are, or because the influence of islam is stronger than I thought it was before I came here. It IS just a case of adapting since it is far from my place to criticise the way things are in anoher country.... but I do miss going out for drinks with girlfriends and not being afraid to get a bit tipsy!!!

lurkylou Sat 24-Feb-07 20:42:19

I've expeienced this feeling of suddenly being 'on show' as I live in a small village abroad at the moment.

I think you will find that you can do very much as you please compared to local women as you are judged differently as a foreigner!!

I had the initial reaction that I must be a loose women as I went out so much but as this was proved TOTALLY wrong I'm now accepted.

Just go quietly and surely about your business and you will soon get their respect.

burek Sat 24-Feb-07 20:50:31

hi lurkylou - i like the way you put it - 'on show'. That is how I feel here. Every single thing I do each day, everywhere I go, anything I buy, is 'noticed', not for malicious reasons just out of interest. I'll just have to be patients and eventually they'll lose interest.
I remember the 'loose western woman' syndrome from living in mexico. Sometimes it was really horrible, men thinking they had an automatic right to grope you because you were foreign. Yuck. Luckily it is not like that here.

burek Sat 24-Feb-07 20:51:21

patient not patients

lurkylou Sun 25-Feb-07 08:37:43

I use to live in London so actually find the open curiosity a pleasant change.

I still laugh about the time I filled up the car with petrol and when I drove away I realised I had been asked the following questions:

Who's your husband?
What work does he do?
How many children have you got?
Are your parents happy that you live so far away?
Then at the end
"Say hello to your MIL she's my 2nd cousin"!!

This was 12km away from where I live!! In the UK you are lucky if you find someone next door who knows you or yours!!

Burek - could I be nosey about your language services business as by a strange coincidence I'm thinking of setting up something similar. Like you I'm surprised by the poor quality of English in private and government publications.

I'm an ex English teacher so feel I'd be qualified.

Thing is, I haven't a clue about pricing!! Could you give me some tips??

I'm nowhere near Bosnia so I wouldn't be competition!!!

burek Sun 25-Feb-07 10:41:36

Of course, lurkylou, no problem at all. If you want to email me I'm mh-g at hotmail co uk.
We have the same thing here - everyone knows everyone, and everyone is a 'cousin' to everyone! It affects business too of course because it all depends on 'who you know'. Luckily we already had some firm friendships here before setting up so we have had our contacts to use and favours to call. It is a very different way of doing business!
That question - Are your parents happy that you live so far away? - is a very common one too. People find it difficult to believe that we can exist without our parents living in the same house or village! Things are so different in the UK today - families are so far apart.

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