We, the both of us together, started travelling in 2011. Leaving France, our home, our jobs for a better place. The question was: where to?
How do you choose a country to live in? How can you choose when you don’t know what the place looks like?
We- I speak for ourselves- can’t. We can’t choose a country to live in if we have no idea how life goes there.
We decided to leave in October 2011, cross Canada on foot/train and decide then if we wanted to stay there.
December 2011: Canada is not exotic enough. We wanted more.
And so we went. I now think that for all this time, we couldn’t really say what we were looking for. What was it that we wanted to find? In Canada we realized we wanted a place where culture had a prominent place. In Qatar we wanted more nature. In France, a happier society.
Then came China. It had everything we wanted: food, drinks, culture. A new language, a new lifestyle. But we still weren’t happy. In China we started missing Canada and Argentina. Even Qatar. The cultural shock was brutal. Good, but intense. And there was something we hadn’t anticipated before: pollution. We want the sun, we want to feel sunshine, we want to breathe pure air.
So we revised what we are looking for in a country. It used to be (in that order): safety, weather, exotic and good food.
We had all that, but somehow, it still wasn’t what made us feel comfortable. After Agentina, we wanted saftey. After Canada, we wanted a change of scene. After Qatar, more nature. China had it all, expect pure air and sunshine. It had it all: the people, the job (even though it was exhausting), the history. And then, we came up with a new criterion: leisure activities. We had nothing to do in China. We were bored to death (when we had time ffor ourselves). Leisure as we see it doesn’t exist in China. No bars, nightclubs, cafes, sports or clubs.
New criteria: safety, environement (including pollution), culture and activities.
Choosing a country to live in is no easy task.
People ask us everyday what we are doing in Slovakia. “Why Slovakia?” “Easter European countries are different.” “they’re going to Czechoslovakia”. No.
Slovakia is in Central Europe. Slovakia is a whole country, independent since 1993. And why Slovakia…
The architecture is nice, the beer is cheaper than in Western Europe, Bratislava is peaceful and safe, the weather is as we like it: cold in winter and warm in summer. 70% of the country is made of wonderful mountains.
So now.. what? We are happy with our jobs, our flat, the people and the city. Maybe that’s why I run out of things to say when I want to write about Slovakia. And I haven’t had time to get out of Bratislava.
I don’t think we are that diffucult to please when choosing a country to live. I think our travels change us and our needs. I think that a country can be great for someone but really bad for another. It all depends on what you’ve lived before. We like Slovakia after having spent a year in China, but many expats we meet here are bored to death because they were in Austria before. I didn’t feel Canada was the place I wanted to settle in for a year, but now I wonder. The trick lies in knowing exactly what you need when you start your search. And to be open to surprises and change even if you think you know what’s best for you.
That’s why I don’t think there is a right place for each of us. You can spend your life backpacking the whole world and still feel none of the places you’ve seen would make a good home. It’s normal to change our opinion on things, our criteria, our needs. It’s normal that when you do, people start to get at you: “But I thought you said…” “I don’t hink you are travelling, I think you are running away” “But last year you hated China!” and others. Get passed it. Go on, live your life, take your time and try to understand what’s happening to you. Don’t be scared to do something again if you feel it is what you need and want.
After all, isn’t life a circle?