Stages and phases of adjusting to life in a new country…



One of my fellow bloggers wrote a piece the other day that really touched my heart , you can read her blog post here if you haven’t already read it…

Naturally, my posts thus far in my Adventure have , for lack of a more appropriate word been, “Gushy”, I’m absolutely in the “Honeymoon” phase of my new life here in Panama. Everything is new and exciting and, as it should be when your at the beginning of something new , I’m full of optimism and wonder at my blissful new existence. I’ve yet to experience some of the difficulties that frustrate even the seasoned expats who have come before me. Oh, I’ve experienced “frustrations”, don’t get me wrong, but given the newness of my grasp on the so called , “Tranquilo” state of mind , It’s easy to hang onto it when these moments of frustration creep into my life. I’ve been spending a lot of time just “being”. Yes, just “Being”. Trying to soak up the luxury that is this new and glorious life of… NOT WORKING! No longer feeling the slave to bills and the heavy burden of maintaining the lifestyle I had created in the Silicon Valley, the non-stop drudgery that every single day was beginning to feel like for me. There seemed to be no end to the treadmill of life…where was I going? Everyday had begun to feel the same as the last. And for what? Mostly for the privilege of living in California. I don’t mean to sound as though I didn’t love living there, no, I love California. There’s not anyplace like it! The weather is perfect all year long, there are unending outdoor activities , beaches, mountains, deserts, forests, lakes, it goes on and on ! But there was a price to pay and that price was becoming too high for me.

This honeymoon phase I’m gushing over at the moment here in Boquete is not only a time that I’m embracing to bask in the beauty of this new place I’m living, but also, a time for me to reconnect to me. To redefine who I am in this new life. Where will I go from here? I don’t yet know. Since Scott’s been ordered to stay down as much as possible as he heals from his surgery, I’ve been spending much of my time just hanging around home. I love being “home”, just puttering around and enjoying this newfound ability to own my entire day. I’m enjoying the feeling of freedom that I have to do whatever I feel like doing each day, often doing not much of anything, and being okay with not being productive every moment of every day. But truth be told, there is a part of me that’s thinking….okay, now what? I’m so used to seeing myself as the “Doer”. My whole life I’ve worked so hard, and I always had a plan and a specific ‘direction’ I was working towards and for. At the moment my ‘long term’ plans aren’t especially grand or hugely ambitious, and I’m good with that.

I wonder how long this “honeymoon” phase of my relocation to Boquete will last. Will this blog continue to be filled with my exuberant expressions of bliss? Will I tire of the glorious view from my patio each morning? Will the ways of my adopted country drive me nutty? I suspect, just given the type of personality I have, I’ll always try to see the beauty in this life even after the newness wears off, that’s just how I am. But, I’m expecting to hit a wall now and again and when I hit that wall, I plan to go back and re-read that post from my blogging friend in Nicaragua. She faces frustrations in her life with generosity, grace and honesty. It’s hard sometimes! But guess what….that’s just life! It doesn’t matter where you call home, frustrations and bad days come wherever you live. They help us keep perspective and aide in giving us gratitude for the blissful, honeymoon phases we get to enjoy. I firmly believe that life is what I make it and even when I’m faced with ‘rotten’, frustrating, sad, scary, and yes, shitty , phases, I may embrace those experiences and use them as a way to reflect on the good that will return. It always returns, the honeymoon phase doesn’t have to be just a temporary part of the experience. At least that’s what I’m gonna hold onto. Some will call me delusional, but hey, it’s my delusion so back off! Ha!Ha!

Don’t get me wrong, I am certain I’m in for surprises, and disappointments and yes even maybe bouts of unhappiness, for what would life be without the whole spectrum of emotions and experiences. I’ve faced plenty of those things in the States and I’ll face them here. But for now, I’m just content . I promise to let ya know when I enter into my next transitional phase of reality here in Central America, things are very different and will eventually prove to drive me batty but for now the only thing I can point to that is driving me truly batty is the gosh darn bats in my house and did I mention all the other ‘critters’? Yep, there are critters galore here in the tropics and if I can moan about something I don’t like about living here, it will be the critters! And BIG critters at that!! This will be my one complaint that I will never stop moaning about! I hate them! I can see the wonder and sometimes even beauty in them , but only when they are “OUTSIDE”! When I find them in my house I very nearly lose my cool and that optimistic gal who writes this blog just melts away. EEEEEEEK! 🙂 I have momentary experiences when the honeymoon is over whenever I see a monster spider in my house or a gigantic, cricket jumping across the floor, and people, BATS do not belong in the house!! I’m just lucky not to have found any scorpions or snakes in my house! Holy crap! When that happens I don’t know what kind of crazy woman I may morph into!!! But there will be no way for me to see the beauty in that!!! 😦

I have to tell you that this is my 300th blog post!! Yea! Yippee! I’m still really enjoying sharing this experience with anyone who still wants to hear about it! As you can probably tell, it’s a great way for me to sort through many of the new experiences I am going through. And I just love all the new people who have entered my life as a result of this blog. I learn so much from all the other bloggers and the comments and words of support and encouragement are truly valuable gifts. It’s also been such a valuable tool for keeping my connections with all the people in California who mean so much to me and who I miss everyday. I’ve never been a writer and don’t claim to be a writer but I do enjoy attempting to express myself and hope you will forgive my many mistakes and grammatical errors. I do my best but my best if far from perfect, this is a fact. 🙂 Thanks for joining me on this Amazing Adventure! Cheers!

About hollycarter184

Life is Good! But it's time for a change, and more adventure! I'd like to share the whole experience of preparing then actually making a reality of expatriating, and moving to a new country. It's an exciting, and slightly scary move full of possibility . I'm looking forward to learning a new language and making new connections with the people who share our spirit of adventure. This blog is my way of continuing my connection with my friends and family in the States. Sooooo here it goes! :)

12 responses »

  1. Thanks, Holly, for linking my post. I know I’ve told you how much I enjoy reading your blog. Your enthusiasm, optimism, and positive outlook on life are infectious. Your explanation of the honeymoon phase is so well defined. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that you have always been a doer and now that you are entering a new phase of life, kind of like a rebirth, you are “just being.” I think that is one of the hardest transitions to make, no matter where one lives. To live in the moment and enjoy each day. What a gift!
    Don’t worry about the bats in your house. They will eat all the mosquitoes and other creepy crawlers. Think of them as natural pest control. lol
    Congratulations on your 300th post. How time flies! Here’s wishing you to never get out of the honeymoon phase of your life. 🙂

  2. I understand about CA., just wondering if you visited other places in the USA ? We lived and traveled in a motor home for 10 years, been to every State including Alaska and Hawaii ( not in the MH ! ) Met tons of nice people and saw what America has to offer. Plenty of places to get away from the ” busy ” life in rural towns. We feel the same way, discovering the un-hurried life in small towns, from Maine to CA. Nova Scotia, Canada, Alaska— but you bet in the winter we would always come back to the Rio Grande Valley–bus trips to Mexico, sampeling all the resturants, dances, festivals, pot luck dinners at the camp grounds, etc. We found Panama to be a country of many faces, from PC to Boquete to Bocas, all nice scenery, but no nicer than what the USA has to offer ! Love the change of seasons ( cooler weather ) Going to Alpine Helen GA to see the leaves change color, reds, greens, yellow, sit by the creeks and listen to the sounds of the forest, and at night go to Festhall for the German bands and a little Polka !

  3. Holly, you and I both know we have the same reasons for moving here. You really hit the nail on the head with this post. Your first few paragraphs could have been describing John and myself as we left Southern California, as well. And, as your new neighbor, I am here to tell you I still have trouble just “being” — and it’s been 2 1/2 years here. I hope you do better at stop being a “doer” thank I have. lol, if you read my last blog post, you’ll see that I was not successful at just “being” in the past year.

    Here’s to both of us just finding a way to breathe in, breathe out and having that be all we do today.

  4. Thanks Holly. Another excellent post and thanks so much for for your vivid descriptions on all of your posts. You have really done an outstanding job of taking us along on your journey. Thanks also for posting the blog from R&R in Nic. It was indeed eye opening and timely for us. I will add this one to the list of blogs (now up to 4) I keep up with. We are looking forward so much to meeting you guys in person at the end of October. Be blessed Jerry

  5. It’s coming up on a year since I moved here, and I haven’t felt the stages of culture shock or adjustment or whatever people call it at all. It’s been a gradual process of becoming acclimated, learning my way around, getting better in the language, and learning about how the people here think and live. Rather than coming out of a “honeymoon” phase, I have become increasingly happy with my life here. I hope it is so for you too!

    I also struggle with thinking I should be busy. I feel like this time we have been given without the constraints of work and responsibilities is a wonderful gift, and I don’t want to waste a bit of it. All those things I said I’d do when I had time, well now I have time. I’m sure you saw InDaCampo’s post The Fonda video really spoke to me. We’re so indoctrinated into the US thinking – produce, work, earn money, buy stuff – as proper use of our time and energy. Maybe personal growth, things that aren’t profitable in money but interest us, and learning other things and ways of living are what we should be doing with this time? It definitely takes a lot of thought and a lot of change to do things differently from what we have done all our lives! But, we have the luxury of time, and we can spend as much time as we want and need to think about where we are going now.

    As for critters, you know I’m the wrong one to talk to. I love critters, and I’m fascinated by all the new life forms we have here. Did you have critters in CA? I think the critters here are much easier to live with than the ones in Florida. Always remember, they are way more scared of you than you are of them! Given a choice, any critter is going to run and hide as fast as they can.

    Well I have rambled on enough for the moment. A critter post is in the works on my blog 😀

  6. Holly I am so proud of you for this being your 300th blog:) I look forward to reading them to know what new things are happening with you and Scott 🙂

    I read your friend’s blog regarding the phrase of living in a new country. It was heartwarming and interesting. These are things that as you both go thru will give you knowledge and encouragement knowing you are not alone being in that phrase know matter which one it might be 🙂 Also knowing “This to will pass” 🙂

    I just have to say, not only as your mother, but as one of the followers of you very interesting and sometimes even UGHIE (BUGS, CRITTERS),blog that I look forward to your description of the beauty around you and the delight in the fact “YOU BOTH ARE LIVING YOUR DREAM” 🙂

    Love you, Mom xxoo 🙂

  7. You are so right we need the dark times to appreciate the light. When I gave up work one of the things I loved best and had never thought about while working was I never had to be polite and talk to people I do not like. Like you I enjoy most people but there are some !!!!

  8. Wow! 300 blog post in around a year, that’s pretty good!!! Again, I’m happy you and Scott are happy. You deserve your break in life 🙂 I miss you lots!!!!!!

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