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I usually coin the term FREEDOM as a basic right of any citizen living in the world. Even the concept of VISA issuance isn’t acceptable as it limits the freedom of movement of an individual. Always Transport and Foreign Beauracracy is are red alerts. After sorting out the Home, Friends and Ties back in the home country now that you have the basics down, all you need to figure out is how to live in this new country. Keep in mind that there are many countries whose government offices move at a slower pace. This is when you learn patience, young grasshopper.
You’ll want to do a victory dance the first time you navigate public transit independently and successfully. It can be a daunting task, familiarizing yourself with all of those zillions of bus routes, carrying correct change in foreign currency, or buying a ticket from the automatic dispenser, with instructions written in what might as well be gibberish. Surprisingly, getting rid of most everything I owned was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. A self-proclaimed shopaholic, I was inundated with tons and tons of “stuff!” Not only did getting rid of it all make me feel a million pounds lighter, but it broke me of an expensive and compulsive habit.
You’ll likely purchase plenty of random things living abroad: new clothes, coffee mugs, books and toiletries. But once you’ve gone through the process of “right-sizing,” you’ll realize that you can likely find anything you need in the next place you call home. In fact, you may just come to realize you don’t need it after all.
I also became comfortable being alone. It was so scary at first to think that my entire support system was thousands of miles away. But I learned to think on my feet and be resourceful when I had to make do with what little I had on hand. I also became adept at asking for help and met many wonderful neighbours as a result. Moving to an unfamiliar country will teach you patience. It might take a while to ease into the rhythm of your adopted home, but if you decide to stay for any length of time, you’ll need to learn to go with the flow. Your survival and happiness will depend on it!
Living in a foreign country will expose you to another culture and its customs. You might look at poverty and suppression and prejudice square in the eye. And when you do, you’ll realize how fortunate you are to have the freedom to live where you choose. Your friends and family will be fascinated by the fact you took such a huge leap. After all, you’ve just done something most people only dream about. Think of all the amazing stories you’ll have to share when you come back for a visit. Better yet, stay in touch virtually (or start a blog) so they can watch your adventures in real-time.
Speaking of adventures, you’ll likely become an adrenaline junkie. Your thirst for new and exciting experiences will increase. You’ll become braver. You’ll try things you might not have ever tried before. Moving abroad made me feel like I could tackle anything, including jumping out of a plane at 33,000 feet!
You’ll become a better communicator too. Even so, there are numerous dialects and communicating with the locals was challenging at times. However, I enjoyed the lively exchanges. When I took the time to really listen, I learned so much from local friends about their lives, their experiences and their dreams.
When you visit family and friends, you’ll feel like a tourist in your own hometown. Life will have carried on without you, and it may seem as if nothing has changed. But take the time to look at familiar places with fresh eyes and check out sights you’ve never bothered to visit before.
Living far from family and friends can be tough. You’ll learn to cherish every phone call from your kids and those surprise visits from your new neighbours. One day, a home might be a quaint cafe that has incredible coffee and a strong internet connection. Another day, it’ll be the peace you feel when you’re gazing out across the ocean or mountains or whatever view your new life affords.
Finally, pursuing your own happiness by living in another country entails something harsh but beneficial: Leaving a lot of familiar people behind. Unless you go with friends or have a partner, spouse and/or children, you will be on your own. Even as a team or family, expatriate life requires self-starting and perseverance because you no longer have the local community you always counted on at home.
If you go alone, you will be your own motivator, problem solver, and emotional stabilizer. You will have the chance to expand your people skills and build up your self-reliance. Perhaps the biggest potential benefit would be getting away from the influence of people who don’t value freedom the way you do. Sometimes your peers can hold you back. Taking off to a new country for a while can give you some breathing room without permanently severing ties.
Are you tired of the financial, political and social obstacles in your life? Living abroad may be the answer. It doesn’t have to be a “forever” commitment, it only takes months to prepare for, and the social and material benefits can serve you for the rest of your life.
More importantly, people in my hometown were fascinated about meeting me when I visited. Now, I am empanelled with numerous visitors, friends, colleagues, and others visiting me during a short visit.