Living in a different country can feel really soothing. In a different country, you have a lot more patience and understanding for the people around you. After all, whatever they are doing is probably a cultural thing if it feels unfamiliar and foreign. And on top of that, they aren’t your people. They’re foreign. So, you glide through life, complacent about the bad things that are happening around you and intrigued by everything else.
After spending a month or two outside of your own country, it becomes abundantly clear that you have just gained access to one of the most privileged, extra special television channels on earth. It’s called In my country, it’s different and it’s a channel that constantly reviews and assesses how your home country differs from the country that you’re currently living in.
Because there are a lot of trivial differences between two countries, this channel can be on all day, every day and you never get bored. Some days, the channel tells you about how slightly differently people speak and the slightly different words people use. On other days, it focuses more on the slight differences in the sports that are popular and the slight differences in where people go on vacation. There are days dedicated to the slight differences in food and days dedicated to the slight differences in musical taste and days dedicated to the slight differences in what things cost and days dedicated to the slight differences between each country’s job market.
In case you were wondering, I watch this channel all the time. Why?
Because all of these slight differences are extremely addictive. They so easily make you feel like your life means something — like you were put on this earth to point out, like that girl on The Magic School Bus who was always pointing out how things were different at her old school, how your home country actually, unbelievably, has a completely different word for spring onion.
And then there is the fact that it is fascinating that every place on earth has come up with a slightly different but essentially identical solution for a lot of life’s problems and wants. Children’s television shows always feature puppet animals but the animals are different depending on where you go. Everyone has plug sockets and ketchup and frozen meals and sports and a way to pay for the metro but the “solutions” for cheap, frozen food, athletic competition, ketchup, metro cards and plug sockets are not a global standard.
Unfortunately, it hard to have any other goals or interests when all you’re doing all day, every day is watching In my country, it’s different. For when it’s so easy to feel unique and useful, it’s just not as important to write that six hundred page novel set in Qeqertarsuatsiaat.
I used to think I was put on this earth to be a writer or to confuse people and make them laugh. But I fell into the deep end when I decided to move to London. My addiction to In my country, it’s different has taken years — six years, to be exact — from my life. For the last six years, the only reason I have been alive has been to play one massive game of spot the difference.
So, it’s time for me to get back to what I was doing all those years ago when I wasn’t privy to In my country, it’s different. It’s time to get back to the headspace I occupied when I only lived in one country and I only thought there was one name for Frosted Flakes and I filled my time with thoughts about movies and books and philosophy and other things that transcended my nationality and the society that I existed in.