Cocooning The Expat

An expat may be guiltier than most of cocooning.

It seems ridiculous that someone can travel to the other side of the world only to seek out others with the same beliefs.

I select all of my newspapers, music, television, and podcasts. This allows me to listen, read or hear exactly what I feel is relevant or interesting. The days of suffering through twenty minutes of an unchosen radio documentary, or watching the tail end of something I haven’t chosen before something I have, are gone. I choose each “thought provoking” topic, well it would be, if I hadn’t chosen it.

I am cocooned in my own beliefs. I cannot be swayed into thinking otherwise, for I have chosen not to listen.

Good things break free from cocoons: pretty things, new things.

A chance to travel is a chance to learn, a free education at your doorstep.

Begin a chat with a security guard, a local, a fellow traveler of a different origin, and you will be immediately transported to another world. You will not be able to speak of people, for there are no mutual friends or acquaintances, you will be forced to speak of ideas, customs and traditions.

Mark Twain once said that “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” Mark had never been on an end of season football trip, taken a last minute deal to Bali, or listened to a bunch of expats talk about which beach club membership to choose.

I was taught how to play Canasta with a group of Spanish women in Jakarta. I went to an ante-natal class with a group of non-english speakers in Malaysia. I learnt how to buy my vegetables with my Libyan neighbour – but somehow here in Qatar I have cocooned myself into a very ordinary life of school runs, sports practice, family life and work.

I’ve curled up and become comfortable, wrapping myself in the familiar under a blanket of easy.

I’ve scanned the course list, thought about the lessons, it’s time to listen to a few new ideas.

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