10 Things About Being An Expat That Can Change You Forever

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If you’re an expat, you may relate to this article.

In this interesting write up (that went viral), Rachel Rae shares candidly on how living abroad changed her life forever.

For many who prefer to stay grounded, it’s difficult to understand the crazy need for one to just pick up and move to an entirely new country! Beyond traversing the world as part-time travellers do, expats relocate there—living, breathing and experiencing that world like any local would. That’s what being an expat is about.

“It isn’t for everyone,” according to Rachel Rae. Being an expat is all about streamlining life and belongings, and you’re forced to bring only the most important possessions with you. Imagine trying to fit your next life in the country you’re relocating to into two carry-on bags and two checked pieces of luggage?

Along with letting go of life’s little comforts (such as that bicycle you won’t need in smog-heavy Hong Kong!)—you are also letting go of familiar comforts; family within close reach, next-door friendships, everyday conveniences.

A wise man once told Rachel Rae that the reason people move to new countries is because they are either running from or running to something. What’s your take on that? For many expats, it’s the lure of change, a job opportunity, following one’s spouse wherever they go… there may be no rationale or choice, really!

For Rachel, she realized there was some truth in that statement; she wasn’t just running from something, she was sprinting as far as she could—and this choice triggered a long-term fixation for living abroad that hasn’t waned till today! See if you relate with any one or more of the following of these life-changing experiences she faced:

  1. Freedom

A new sense of freedom. Freedom to do and go as I please. Freedom to travel. Freedom to make choices without a safety net. Freedom to be yourself.

  1. Watching your life at home pass by

Birthdays come and go. Marriages. Deaths. Life doesn’t stop and wait for you.

  1. Math skills strengthen as you are always trying to convert your local currency to your home country

You know it is even better when you convert your new currency to your previous country. Everything is still in pesos for me.

  1. Communication

Responding to someone in any language but the language they are speaking.

  1. Stories

The stories you will have to tell for the rest of your life are so unbelievable most people will think you are exaggerating. Hospitals. Airports. Dentists. You try getting your point across in any means possible. And do I mean ANY means possible.

  1. Appreciation for your friends and family

You realize little holidays and moments you didn’t think mattered are the ones that make you the most homesick.

  1. Growth

As much as you hate to admit it with each move you grow. You learn the best ways to pack, meet new friends, get around, and survive.

  1. Adrenaline

Those thrill seekers jumping off canyons and out of airplanes have nothing compared to boarding a plane and traveling to an unknown place. Not knowing anyone. Not knowing your surroundings. Not knowing the language. Now that is a real adrenaline rush.

  1. Patience

Realizing no one understands you. No one cares. Ordering food, getting in a taxi and normal everyday tasks take patience. Nothing is ever easy. A 10-minute task at home will take you 60 minutes. Accept it. 

  1. Goodbyes

Having to say hello for the first time and having to say goodbye for the final time. Not many people get to experience this, but I have perfected it. This could quite possibly be the hardest and most dreaded part of my life.

Start slow, go to a new place. Alone. Go to a city by yourself. Go on a vacation, alone. Throw yourself out there. Your own sink or swim. When you begin to panic and want to go home that is when your fight or flight will kick in. That true inner strength will shine through. You will fight it out and you will thank yourself later. I know I did.

Can you add more to this list? What experiences or life lessons have you learned as a result of living abroad that have changed you forever? Please share them in the comment box below!

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Team Expat

Founded by expats, TheExpat.com provides city-specific news, expert advice and resources to expats, covering major cities across Asia & all things expat!

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