Living abroad changes you from the moment you step off the plane. When you are in a foreign country for an indefinite amount of time you make decisions a lot differently than you do when you are on vacation. You enter survival mode and all of sudden things are weighed as necessary or unnecessary? What resources will be required? How much time will it take? How much money will it cost? Will it fit in a cab? How do I get there? There is no concierge ready and waiting at your beck and call to make your stay the most pleasurable it can be. Instead of asking, “What do I want for dinner?” you ask, “Where can I get to easily enough and order something digestible?” Dumplings, noodles, the coffee/pizza place or the other western place. Those are the current options on a work night. Noodles and dumplings are a walkable distance away and super cheap, the others require who knows how long of a cab ride and are more expensive.
So tonight, while we were at IKEA around dinnertime, Molly and I walked past the restaurant inside and both turned and looked at each other with the knowing question, “Have you ever eaten inside IKEA??” Neither of us had and we knew it would be the path of least resistance for dinner and gladly ventured in. That’s another thing about living abroad, you all of a sudden become so open-minded to trying anything because your options are limited, knowing if it turns out well, it increases them that much more. Today I also tried strawberry barley yogurt (that came served with a straw). When your stomach is still growling after the cafeteria lunch where you only ate rice and some vegetable that was a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower, you try the weird dairy product that someone hands you that previously caused you to turn your nose up. While at IKEA I tried the infamous Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and it made my day.