We have a routine the first day. Whether it’s a cross-country move or international relocation, the first day sets the tone. After struggling through a night of jet lag, unfamiliar beds and feeling our way to the kitchen for a stomach-in-the-wrong-time-zone induced snack, at some point in the morning everyone is finally awake. Some semblance of breakfast is optimal. Coffee is a must. Then we do it. We take a walk.
It can be a few blocks or a mile. We need the fresh air. We need sunlight. We need our eyes to adjust and become accustomed to seeing unfamiliar sites and faces. Our ears need to be comfortable hearing languages we don’t understand. And, in some cases, we need to become comfortable with people staring at the obvious foreigner. We need to get out of the house. If we stay indoors, it becomes easier to easier to never go outside. Inside is comfortable. Outside is unknown.
Inside is comfortable. Outside is unknown.
There’s no day like the first day to become familiar with the unfamiliar.
We are fortunate in that our first stop was Germany. We could pass for Germans, thus, aside from the occassional high-pitched English whine from our three-year-old, no one gives us a second look. And, perhaps more so than any country on earth, Germany is designed for walking – wandering, as the Germans call it. Thousands of miles of paved walking paths crisscross the countryside, villages and cities, beckoning us outdoors, no matter the clime. Germany makes it easy. This is where I have to remind myself it won’t always be easy. Our next stop may not have paved paths through blooming fields of canola. We may not look like the locals and, quite the contrary, we may look woefully out of place. But that’s okay. Things will normalize. Things will become familiar. The first step to normalization after any transition is getting out the door.