Expat Magazine

Expat Life: Baby Steps in a New Country

By Miss Footloose @missfootloose
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Park in Chisinau. She can count better than I can.

Do you ever wonder what it feels like to be a baby?  Would you like to find out?  All you have to do is move to a foreign country where the local language is not one you have any knowledge of. You wake up and you can’t even ask for a bottle of milk vodka.  You can’t say hello or goodbye or where do I find a good shrink. You don’t know how to dress yourself properly and when you venture outside you don’t know where you are and you can’t read the signs.

So here I am, in Moldova, and I’m learning to count.  Trust me, there is no better way to make you feel like a toddler all over again than to learn to count in a foreign language.  Here we go:  unu, doi, trei, patru, cinci, sase, sapte, opt, noua, zece,  (altogether now).  If you have any knowledge of Spanish, French or Italian, you will recognize these as being not totally unfamiliar, and yes, Romanian is a Latin language, and it’s the language spoken in Moldova, along with Russian.

And if not speaking the language doesn’t destroy your confidence, the local fashion scene will.  Women take their appearance seriously here.  Slobs are not to be seen in the streets of Chisinau, and I must say I appreciate that.

While I lived in the US the last few years I was reasonably well dressed when going to the supermarket or dentist or anywhere in public.  I admit to struggling mightily to not succumb to the temptation to join the slob parade, but fortunately my European genes saved me:  No old sweats for me, and no baggy shorts or T-shirts proclaiming  I’m still hot. It just comes in flashes now. Although no fashionista, I was, so to speak, well turned out, comparatively speaking.  Comparatively being the operative word.

Then one spring day I got on a plane to Moldova and was instantly metamorphosed into a frumpy hausfrau just by getting off the plane.  It makes me want to weep.  My jeans aren’t tight enough, my heels not high enough, my clothes not trendy enough, my lips not plump enough, my hands not manicured enough, my . . . do I need to go on?  I think you get the picture.

Expat Life: Baby Steps in a New Country

Chisinau Billboard. Okay not all women here look like this.

Sad to say, I will have to accept this state of affairs because trying to jazz up my appearance would require too much witchcraft and besides – you’ll be happy to know — my shallowness does have limits.  Maybe I should rethink my stand on T-shirts with slogans and get this one:  I Took the Road Less Traveled, and Now Where the Heck Am I?

So, to escape babyhood and fashion funk what is a girl to do?  She puts on her big girl panties and deals with it:

Expat Life: Baby Steps in a New Country

Symposium Restaurant. Grownup food for big girls.

Off to an upscale restaurant with my prince.  A place where they speak English, oh joy.  A place where I can soothe my suffering self-confidence with good food and lovely Moldovan wine.  Especially the wine helps.

NOTE: I am starting Romanian language lessons next week, so not to worry.


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