Growth and Reinvention in Mexico
Moving to a new place, especially to a new country and especially where probably close to no one knows you, is a great chance for personal growth and what lots of expats I’ve interviewed call “reinvention,” a topic I wrote about you can find here: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/want-to-reinvent-yourself-retire-abroad-2017-09-11
You can also get my take for “How Living Abroad Made Me a Better Person” here: https://bestplacesintheworldtoretire.com/stories/moving-abroad-in-general/lessons-about-moving-abroad/how-living-abroad-made-me-a-better-person/
When Americans and Canadians move to Mexico, most will find a culture that is less concerned with punctuality and perfection and more concerned with interpersonal relationships than they experienced NOB (“North of the Border”; the US and Canada). Believe me, you are not going to change Mexican culture, so complaining about it only makes you more frustrated, unhappy and unlikeable.
A better course of action is just learn to see the good in the Mexican culture, relax, and try to become less of a Type A. Your blood pressure will go down, you will be more pleasant, and you may even learn that aspects of the Mexican culture are actually better and more appropriate for living here in Mexico for many things, and perhaps even better for life in general.
I’ll give you an example. In the US, if a truck were blocking my way on a one-way street because the passenger had to get out and have a quick conversation with a store owner or had to unload a few items, I would be very unhappy. Here, I just wait those few moments and enjoy the day. The wisdom of my new reaction to this can be seen in my mental and emotional health, and also in my realization that I may have to do exactly the same thing as that truck driver later in the day and I would appreciate that everyone else didn’t honk their horns, curse at me, give me bad looks, etc., and just acted patiently. It’s just how life works here. We don’t get all that worked up over items like this. Once you get used to it and learn to embrace it, it’s very nice because you’re much less worried about “doing something wrong.” People are much more forgiving here for all sorts of things that would be horrific NOB.
And while we’re on the subject of vehicular travel, you may find it interesting to know that when you get your car scratched or dented (and believe me, you will), it won’t cost a fortune to repair it. Just before we moved here, I backed up into a wall in the US, which caused only minor damage to my bumper and the side of the car. The cost to repair it: USD $1,200. In Mexico, that same repair would be the equivalent of around USD $60 to fix it like it never happened. With costs like that, your old habit of having your month ruined when you got a scratch or a ding in your car will eventually just fade away. When you do get a scratch or a ding in Mexico, after you’ve been here for a while, instead of responding with of a string of curse words running through your head, regret, remorse and anger, you’ll just think “so what?” Then, you may even laugh a bit to yourself as you compare your new response with your old one. That’s what I did.
A great tool for your growth or reinvention (if you’re into that type of thing) is to learn as much Spanish as you can. Doing so will not only make you much more comfortable living in a Spanish-speaking country, but it will also make you more confident, competent, relaxed (and who doesn’t want that?), and also more able to better enjoy more of the people you come into contact with every day.
Please don’t worry if you botch your Spanish. The Mexican people are thrilled and honored that you are even trying. Let’s honor them as well by trying to learn their language, at least a little bit. Doing so will spread goodwill, make you lots of new friends, and make your life here much, much more enjoyable. You will be able to integrate into the larger community here (not just the English-speaking expat one), be less isolated, be better in an emergency, and make lots of very good friends.
You don’t have to learn all at once; you can learn Spanish at your pace. There are lots of good alternatives. One I’ve been using lately is Duolingo. You go as fast or slowly as you wish, it’s fun, it seems to work, and it’s free.
You absolutely don’t have to be fluent or perfect in Spanish in order for to make a huge impact on your life and the lives of Spanish-speaking people around you. Please don’t pass up this opportunity. Maybe you can sign up today for an app, a program on your computer or a class.