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Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
on February 11, 2013
As someone who has repeatedly stepped outside her own comfort zone, I was fascinated by Sonia Marsh's tale of her family's experiment with living in a third world country when their prosperous California life-style began to feel too materialistic. Their attempt to adapt to the unfamiliar environment of the tiny Caribbean nation of Belize offers a host of insights that are useful whether you're moving to another country or just to a different city in your own country.
Marsh writes, often humorously, about the way that cultural differences affect day-to-day life. Housing styles and standards. The education system. The food that is (or is not) available in the local market. The bugs. Trying to establish a bank account.
But what I found most compelling about Marsh's story was her description of their interactions with their neighbors in Belize, be they local, permanent ex-pats or transitional folks like themselves. What seemed, in the early days, to be an idyllic and supportive if somewhat chaotic community proved to be anything but idyllic. Once Sonia and her husband Duke tried to structure a life for themselves based on "the American paradigm," the community seemed to rise up in protest, occasionally in a way that was frightening.
It is to Marsh's credit that she looks back on this as a learning experience, one that caused her to recognize that there is no universal "right answer." In the final analysis, Marsh chose a life style that is more California than Belize -- but it is a life style that has benefited from incorporating the best of what she found in Belize.