Monday, July 9, 2018

Traveling and "living abroad"

We've been on a number of home exchanges out of the U.S. over the last year and a half, some for a couple of weeks, some for three weeks or a month.  This summer, in our "new" house in Quebec, we'll have been away from the U.S. for two and half months.  I suppose this qualifies as "living abroad" for a while.

We're not expats, as we return to Asheville, NC and will continue to do so.

It's an interesting experience to be in one place for a longer period.  You're no longer a traveler, or "on vacation" -- which is not how I describe our traveling in any case  -- but on a usually different sort of schedule that being the "tireless tourists" that we've been in the past.

It's something different, as you connect with how people live, try to understand their daily lives, experience shopping at the local grocery stores and markets, and navigate whatever else is needed.

In Italy, in April, we needed to troubleshoot the internet connection of our wonderful Home Exchange place. Visits to the local TED office helped figure out that we needed a tech to come; fortunately, he spoke just enough English that I could answer on my phone (with an Italian TED sim card), that yes, we were there.  And then all was well (I think he just needed to reconnect and boost the line feed!)

Experiencing the regional mall where the TED office was located was an experience in itself, and the grocery store in the mall --  yikes, LOUD American oldies were the favorite audio background -- but it was the biggest grocery nearby, so had the best selection of vegetables, etc.  -- although in Italy, all of the groceries, big and small, had fabulous produce, chicken, etc.

Here in Quebec, we've managed to replace our hot water heater, pay our property taxes online via our Canadian bank account, arrange for our property insurance (remotely), pick up items from our very friendly local post office, have things delivered to our new address, get an internet connection, arrange for some additional lights to be installed  -- all perfectly normal things to do.

But when the language of our province is French -- and our French is limited, it's a bit more challenging.

But I'm alternating between listening to CBC radio from Quebec (in English) to a local French station, studying my online French lessons, and trying to get a better feel for how people live here.

I love seeing the families out biking in Parc National du Bic and along the bike paths in Rimouski.

There are so many wonderful paths available, both for biking and walking, it provides quite the contrast from our small mountain town.  They're investing in getting people outdoors through out the year, as the bike paths turn into cross-country ski trails and the walking paths become snow-shoe friendly.

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