Patience and Humility
There is no limit to the stupidity of an ex-pat! I recently read an article by Douglas Morris where he stated that living as an expat teaches you humility and patience!
I was driving to Louvain-la-Neuve to meet some colleagues for supper. I hardly know anyone at work because the tutors are like ships in the night but have exchanged a brief comment here and there, asked a question or two and for the rest it’s rushing off to a class. This being Wallonia, the ambience seems rather light and I thought it would be a good idea to show my face, you show your face a couple of hundred times, people seem to start trusting you enough to start up a conversation and who knows what might happen with some human contact.
So for once I google the destination before I leave, the restaurant looks pretty much middle-of-nowhere and I start imagining a bucolic setting, perhaps we will be on a terrace somewhere, clear skies, some cows in green pastures to feast my eyes. I have no idea where I get these whacky ideas from!
My gps tells me I have reached my destination immediately as I exit the highway, I am not too surprised, I was expecting a rural setting remember, but I find nothing that resembles a restaurant, plus I am starting to run out of petrol. The shop at the fuel station closes just as I am about to go in search of a map or ask someone in there for directions. I approach two non-suspecting guys who eye me suspiciously. They have no idea where ‘grand rue’ is and have never heard of the restaurant in question, no surprises there! I decide to head for the centre of town and buy a map, (remember patience and humility), I send a text stating that I will be late, I don’t know where I am so I don’t want to ask for directions.
Another fuel station, I have just passed underneath Louvain-la-Neuve, it’s completely pedestrian, in the literal sense of the word. I see an underground parking called ‘grand rue’ and the slow grey stuff in my head starts making connections. I see a fuel station with an open shop and the guy who is busy mopping up, tells me he knows the restaurant, I have to park in the basement in ‘grand rue’(I hate parking underground) and I should find it easily. The penny finally drops, grand rue is the name of the parking…
In this case a map would have been of no help to me except that I might have wondered at the non-existence of a road called ‘grand rue’ somewhat earlier. So now I know how Louvain-la-Neuve works! Of course this is no guarantee that I will be better off in future but what with all the patience and humility I have acquired, at least I probably won’t suffer from cardiac arrest!