Today I’m over at A Life Overseas writing about how expatriates can know when it is time to take a break from the host culture. The article is called When You Start to Pick Your Nose in Public.

And in case you missed it last week, my essay for Brain, Child was picked up today by the Huffington Post(!). Turning Black (with an adorable picture of Henry and Maggie at the Berbera beach in Somaliland). I’d love it if you’d head to these two sites and comment, share, tweet. Thanks!

Maybe you adore your host country, have deep relationships, productive labor, meaningful interactions, and experience laughter and adventure. Maybe you are weary of living in your host culture, you struggle to adapt, have a hard time developing friendships, find little purpose in your work. Maybe one day you love it and one day you hate it. No matter what, I think it can be valuable for expats to step out every once in a while, gain perspective, reconnect with the places and people you’ve left.

when the khat starts to look mighty appealing...

when the khat starts to look mighty appealing…

Here’s an excerpt…

When you start to pick your nose in public, you might be too cheap for Kleenex. Or you might live in a really dry, dusty place and need to dig that one out before it makes you bleed. Or you might be overdue for a break.

When you (if a native English speaker) start to say things like, “There is no being upsetness in playing video games,” and think that is perfectly good English, you might be a really bad English teacher. Or you might be dizzy and dehydrated from the rising summer temperatures. Or you might be overdue for a break.

How do you know when your time to step out of the host culture has come? I knew it when I would catch a side glimpse of myself in a mirror and only then, notice that my shoulders hunched forward, only then, realized I was too exhausted to even walk upright.

Living overseas is expanding and exhilarating and inspiring. And draining. At least for some. When our daughter asked why we were going to Minnesota for a year in 2011 and I said, “Daddy is working on his PhD and mommy needs a break from Djibouti,” she said, “Why? What do you need a break from?” To her this sounded like, “Mommy needs a break from life.”

Read more…

(Yes. People pick their noses in public here. And farmer blow into the dirt. Sometimes they use fingers, sometimes they use their clothing, sometimes they let ‘er fly. Let’s just say I’ve adapted (sometimes).)