Living outside the United States changes me. Before I moved to Bologna, I was a workaholic. Long hours on the Hill wore me out. I never wanted to go out--especially on a school night. Getting me to go to happy hour, especially one a little far away, was difficult. Even on the weekends I wanted to be home by 1am. I was just so tired.
Then I moved to Italy for a year. Yes, Italy is incredibly inefficient. I'm really not sure why the Bolognese did not clean up their dogs' poop. And is it really necessary to have a national holiday every other Monday? Everything was closed Sunday anyway. I just want to go to the damn grocery store and it's never open.
But yet, Italy taught me to take a step back and enjoy life. Life is about the people you're with, what you experience. It's not about the job. Yes, you should be happy with what you do. But, for the first time, I was in an environment where you are not defined by your job, as is the case with DC. Italy was about the people I was with, the opportunity to travel, trying new things.
I've been in Egypt less than two months, and I already see I have changed. I have seen countless Egyptian dawns--not because I woke up early (in DC, I would wake up at 5am to beat the traffic) but because I was up all night. Sometimes on a school night. And not tired the next day. In fact, after staying up all night I'm still ready to go, enjoy what the next day holds. I try to eat healthy, but when you're hanging out with a bunch of guys, you learn to be adaptable. I actually ate I think Little Ceasar's last weekend. I haven't eaten that--or Dominos or Pizza Hut--in years.
I have never really liked sharing food. I joke it's because I only went to two months of first grade--they taught sharing in the months I skipped. There have been a couple of times I either grudgingly or didn't want to share, much to the surprise of my friends. This weekend, I went out for burgers and got a cookie. My friend sat down next to me, looked at the cookie, asked if it was ours (he asked if it was "ours," not "mine," which in hindsight is telling), and ate it. At first I was shocked--shocked!--that someone ate my cookie. That really doesn't happen in the US.
And then I realized I was being ridiculous. I'm actually embarrassed that I, for such a long time, was not used to sharing my food. I didn't really want to write about it because I was so ashamed. Especially since this guy in particular has been nothing but welcoming, sharing, and all-around awesome. But, hey, I'm growing and part of this blog is sharing the good, bad, and ugly about both my experiences and myself.
The difference was further highlighted a few nights later when I went out to dinner with some American friends. A few of them were working out the bill down to the last half pound (Egyptian pound is the currency here), completely unwilling to pay more. But my Egyptian friends--okay, it sucks if you pay more than what you ate, but when you eat out with friends, it is what it is. You're with your friends, having a good time. It's not about fighting for every last pound.
Now, my friend who ate my cookie and will probably read this and laugh (I hope), I am more than happy to share.