Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Travel vs. Life Abroad

This is a theme that comes up sporadically here at NonModern, only because it is raised again and again in this sort of life I lead. There is a huge difference between the romantic ideal of “life abroad” and the reality of mundane life anywhere. In terms of “missions” it could be a churchy version of the grass being greener on the other side of the ocean. Sure, for most believers there is still the classic prayer, “please don’t send me to Africa!” but for increasing numbers there is an idealized picture that has developed of how wonderful it must be to live abroad. This is due in no small part to the growth of short tern mission trips.

Everyone (or nearly everyone) loves the adventure of travel. The exotic experience of another culture and another scene, maybe a different menu and the pampering that is life in a hotel or even the test of a stay in a hostel or some other low comfort housing.

Unfortunately, that is not what life—as opposed to a brief stint—abroad is like. Life is life no matter where you are. You see the same things every day, you eat the same sorts of things. You have to clean and wash up and you have stresses and undesirable things that have to be done no matter where you are. Do THAT abroad and it can and likely is even worse in the long run, because all of that “mundane-ity” is harder because you haven’t grown up doing it.

The point is, we are all “stuck” wherever we are. The key is to recognize the adventure in everyday life wherever it may be. The sure fire way to miss out on that adventure is to constantly be dreaming of the place where you are not

That being said, there are those that have split their lives up into significantly long enough periods of time in very diverse places and cultures to have seen “the mundane” of multiple continents. Not really travel but also not a lifetime. What would you call that?

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