Friday, October 14, 2011

Guest Post: A Suitcase and Stilettos

I am very excited to be guest posting for the lovely Liz as she ventures on yet another adventure (I'm desperately trying to contain my jealousy here if you can't tell)!  I'm thrilled to take over her blog today and hopefully will keep ya'll half as entertained as she keeps me on a regular basis!  For those of you who have never stopped by my blog, A Suitcase and Stilettos, I am an American girl living in Scandinavia.  I basically cashed in my good job and Mexican food for a life of rain boots, fish, and some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever set my eyes on.

Being an American in a foreign land is without a doubt, a great conversation starter.  I constantly am asked the usual questions such as:

1)  Do you live in New York City or LA?  (I think many people believe all Americans live in one of those two cities)
2)  Did you drive a Ford Mustang?  (which in point I answer "If it makes me cooler to you, perhaps I did...")
3)  Do you eat at McDonald's every day?  (I still can't figure out if people say this to me because they think Americans eat McDonald's every day or if I look like I eat McDonald's every day!)

These questions are all very simple to answer for me.  There is one question, however, that I find quite difficult to give a definitive response to...and that is "Where is your home?"

You see, since I was born, I have lived all over.  At one time or another, I have called Ohio, Georgia, Germany, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas and now Norway...HOME.  While my parents remain in Virginia, it is hard for me to say with certainty that Virginia is home because I feel as though each and every place I have lived has impacted me in some form.    

Germany:  My time spent in Germany was special.  Special because my earliest childhood memories are from here.  While I don't remember everything from the place, I made the most important discovery about myself in Germany.  This is where I learned, at the mere age of 6, that I was obsessed with traveling and educating myself about other cultures.  That discovery led me to live a life of reading maps (for fun), winning a Geography bee, aspire to be an airport manager, and spend my time at the library checking out books on different countries.  It is a wonder that in this process I never became a total nerd.
Virginia:  Virginia is where I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage years.  Virginia is a very special place to is a state where you can sunbathe at the beach, hike in the mountains, go boating in the swamps, visit Thomas Jefferson's home, and sit for six hours in DC Beltway traffic...all in one day!  But there is so much more to Virginia than those aspects.  In fact, when I think of Virginia and my time spent there, I don't think about those at all.  Virginia taught me the value of a good education.  Virginia taught me to set goals for myself (pretty safe to say my dad had a bit of a hand in this) whereas Ohio later taught me how to work towards achieving them.
Texas:  Texas was a turning point in my life.  It was realistically the first I was officially on my own and away from my parents.  I paid my own bills, had my own income, and began to make decisions that would affect the rest of my life.  Texas made me strong and gain reassurance that I could take care of myself.  Texas was also the first time in my life that I could use the money I made on the thing I was most passionate about...traveling.   
Ohio:  Ohio was the place I was born.  Ohio was the place I resided for 7 years prior to moving to Norway.  I felt as though there was a reason I ended up in Ohio all those years after being born there and just maybe it was the place I was destined to live my life.  While I unknowingly had other plans in store for myself with an eventual move to Norway, I learned more about myself in Ohio than anywhere else I lived.  The Ohioans taught me to work...and to work hard.  Here is where I learned to work so I could travel (and shop).  There is something about a midwesterner and their mindset of hard work produces results.  Most importantly, Ohio also taught me that life really can revolve around the sport of football.
Norway:  Norway is my current home.  Norway will be the biggest test and lesson I have ever embarked on myself...and I can't quite say what lessons will be learned.  I just know there will be many.  So far I am in the process of learning patience...a characteristic I have lacked my entire life but realize I can not live without in a land where a visa processing will take 8+ months (meaning I can't travel outside of Norway for 8+ months).  I am also learning the significance of 'nature therapy' on a bad day...and it sure is worlds cheaper than 'retail therapy'.  I have also learned the definition of euphoria here.  And it can simply come in the form of discovering an unexpected American good in a grocery store here.
Telling someone where I come from shouldn't really be a difficult task...but for me, it kind of is.  Aristophanes said "A man's homeland is wherever he prospers".  If that is the case, then that makes me a citizen of the world.