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The Shift Is Ours: An Emigrant's Theory of Relativity

The rest stays the same. Café Prückel, Vienna
It's been almost a year since we returned to L.A. from our two-year stint in Vienna, Austria. It was time to go back - albeit only for a visit: to see friends and family; to hang out at favorite cafés; to eat the food that tastes of home (Wienerschnitzel! Apfelstrudel!); to browse book stores, flea markets, and museums and to walk the streets of Vienna, hike in the mountains around Innsbruck. It was time and we went.

We had a great two and a half weeks but guess what? Vienna hasn't changed since we left there last August. Neither has Innsbruck. In one year? Duh?! How would a city change as fast as that?

You're right. I know. And yet. Here's what it feels like, here's the theory of relativity, as learned by emigrants and expats: when we leave one country for another everything is all of a sudden different. Language, culture, landscape, humor, daily routines, the job, the friends, the food. Everything around us changes. It's an upheaval.

Alas, what we fail to realize, as expats or emigrants, is that the shift was ours while the the rest of the world - stays the same.

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