You really only live once and making a big life change is frightening but what’s more daunting is regret and I never want to turn away any opportunity to explore and learn because when I am not learning I feel as if I’ve wasted my time.
I don’t usually rant on about the bits and pieces that are unpleasant about being an expat because I don’t believe in whining but more than often people assume that I am “living the life”. Nobody’s life is as perfect as it may seem on social media and I’ll be the first to admit that. Just because I don’t post dreadful moments, it doesn’t mean they do not exist and don’t get me wrong, living abroad is amazing and I love it. I get to discover new places, connect with different people and experience new activities. I could not imagine my life any other way. Moving abroad is such an immense experience. You have to try it for yourself, to understand it. But remember that it’s not all unicorns and rainbows because some things do suck. So, whatever “the life” means you are probably living it too.
Expat life is rewarding but it is really hard and it is really scary because moving abroad is so much different than travelling, it’s harder. You literally leave everything you’ve come to know and everyone you love behind. You enter an entire new existence. You need to learn to navigate your day to day life in a culture you know absolutely nothing about – no matter what you tell yourself. Everything is different, even if you speak the same language. You don’t have your familiar support system and calling friends and family can be expensive. You start to idealize life back home and compare your current situation to what is familiar. With some time you get use to it all but for the most part, you are lonely and you feel sad. And that is ok because everyone gets sad sometimes – after all that is what makes us human, we are complex beings, we have emotions. But just understand that this isn’t a place I stagnate at. I allow myself to have these feelings and then move forward because we do a lot more harm to ourselves if we choose to avoid these kind of emotions. So, I’ve learnt to embrace it – slowly- because in those moments of solitude I get to spend time with myself. I’ve learnt that there is no one that can make me happy more than me and that’s the reason you don’t see my low points scattered across my social platforms but at the same time I do not create a facade because my social platforms are not only for my followers but serves as an album for me to look back on one day.
I’ve written about culture shock before and many expats can relate to the point I’m trying to make. Every day is another day that you attempt to convince yourself that the decision you made is the correct one. So, as an expat the best thing we can do is just stay focused. Just stay focused on the things we have and less on the things we don’t because happiness comes from the appreciation of those things. Adapting to a new culture is an ongoing process. It may be challenging at times, but everyone who has experienced life abroad will agree that going through this change helped them to learn more about themselves and to develop greater confidence in their ability to navigate new situations.
Any form of learning empowers you as an individual and while I know life abroad is hard it has been the best time of my life and I will continue to encourage people to take the opportunity if it arises. Nothing can be worse than not knowing.
Thank you for reading,