Whenever you move to another country with a culture completely different than your own, you will understand nothing in the beginning. Yet, you might think that you understand. You are wearing your own cultural lens which gives meaning to the things happening around you. You might have informed yourself about the culture, you might think that you are prepared, but you are never prepared.

There is no way to be prepared. You will never understand the deep roots of a culture by simply reading about it in books. The only way to learn is to live- and experience the culture day by day, week after week, year after year. But hey, books are still great.

Yet, there is nothing that can boost your learning process as much as living in another country. Simply by getting out of your bed every day and living your life, you gain one valuable experience after another. Your curiosity can be stimulated any time. What do the words mean that the person at the mosque is “singing”? Why do the people lift up their hands when they cross the street? Why do they say “God bless you” when they meet each other? They could just say hello after all.

Imagine you just try to figure out one of these questions every single day. You can dismiss them. But if you want to answer any of them, then you will have to talk to people.  You will have to do research in the internet or you might even start reading a book if the question truly captures your interest. Yes, if you live abroad, you are triggered day by day to learn something new.

Do this and a part of the darkness that surrounds you will become enlightened.  It may be only a candle that lightens up fraction of a huge factory hall, but the more candles you add, the more the hall will be filled by light. That is learning. Learn something small every day and in sixty years, if you did it right, people will call you wise. I am no wise man, honestly, but I try to light up a candle every day, one at a time. And the good thing is: I don’t have to do much for it. Asking one question is enough. Just one.

Cheers

Tim

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