The headaches of an expat can be surprisingly heavy
My head felt heavy as I woke up. For once it wasn´t the tck baby but a throbbing headache that was calling for my attention. Bright light found its way through the a bit uneven blinds in our American apartment, giving away that it was already morning. I felt as if I hadn´t slept at all.
It was really something else that had forced me out of my sleep. The smell. A heavy odor that shouldn´t have been there. It was all over our new expat home. Like sulfur; gas; a bit like rubber. For an instant I was tossed back to Swedish high school where the boys constantly opened the gas taps in chemistry class to upset the girls. Or should I say to impress them, speaking boys’ language.
The apartment was on ground level and raising the blinds I was welcomed by the sight of the lush green foliage outside our master bedroom, and – immediately to the left – the natural gas cabinet. It didn´t take long to make the connection smell and gas leak. Impressively fast, considering the condition my head was in.
I called the natural gas company and explained – a little bit cautious as Swedes tend to, not wanting to be such a hassle in case there was nothing to it. Apparently the smell was not good at all. Someone was to be sent over immediately. “Gas leaks are not to be taken lightly. Right, and that´s why I made the call in the first place.
Before long there was a service minded maintenance worker on the patio. He wore sturdy shoes and had a dark blue overall on, as well as a concerned look. It didn´t take long though before he burst out into laughter.
“Seriously??” he said. ”Have you never ever smelled a skunk before??”
What? No, I hadn´t. His reaction left me feeling relieved yet a bit wronged. There are no skunks in Sweden.
I thanked the highly amused man and made a mental note. My list of new experiences, ever growing from living in another country and being exposed to cultural differences, had been added to. Again.
Share your story! I know there are many situations out there that deserve to be shared! We all have problems and headaches as an expat. Surviving expatriate life is a lot easier if we´re able to laugh at ourselves. And believe me; it´s not as if there’s a lack of situations where things can be misunderstood …
This post has also been published in Swedish, go here if you´d like to read that version and the comments!