Preparing to move to another country is no small task. When I first started to plan for the trip abroad I had more questions than answers. But luckily I had blog friends who had made the big trip before and were willing to answer my questions and give me advice. Blog friends like Amanda. And lucky for us she is sharing her thoughts on being an expat:
Hello all, I’m Amanda from Living in Another Language , and I’m an expat living in South Korea.
Every time I write the above sentence on a guest post, I can’t help feel like I’m in some ‘bloggers anonymous’ group, and I’m about to spill my confessions of my latest situations. I’m so thankful to be taking over Nicole’s blog for the day, and love her adventurous spirit traveling around the world as well. I loved getting to know her lately (if you haven’t figured it out yet, she graciously let me design her blog for my new design site The Suitcase Designs), and look forward to all her gorgeous posts about South Africa.
So here’s the deal. Expat life is awesome, there’s no mistaking that. I’m here today to settle a few misconceptions about expat life, as well as give some clarity as to what you can expect in your own long-term travel adventures.
You will live out of your comfort zone 79.9% of the time. There is nothing comfortable about moving to a foreign country, completely different than your own. In South Korea they even sell granite beds! For some reason, Koreans think that the harder the bed, the better for your health. Seriously, if anything should be comfortable it should be your bed! Thankfully my husband and I got lucky and were able to purchase an awesome memory foam pillow topper for our rock-hard mattress and we’re now living in style.
On a more serious note, nothing about our move to Korea was comfortable. I was super sick on our initial flight over, the first year we dealt with a mold infestation that our apartment owner would do nothing about, and we have to try and deal with everyday situations and potential problems with the small amount of Korean we know. It’s really difficult when the gas guy bangs on your door at 8 am asking for money when you’ve for sure paid that gas bill days ago.
- Seoraksan National Park, South Korea
You’ll learn new life skills you never thought you were capable of learning. One thing I’ve found out about stepping out of your comfort zone is the fact that you stretch your learning capability by a million percent! No one accomplishes anything great by only doing what they feel secure and comfortable in. Not only have I learned how to read and write an Asian language, I ate raw cuddle fish, slept in the dodgiest hotels I’ve ever seen, and significantly increased my skills at charades.
You’ll make a fool out of yourself on a daily basis. Well, its true. I don’t know how many times I’ve said the wrong thing, offended someone with my gestures, or worn the wrong outfit to a social event. It happens, and not because you’re too lazy to find out the right way, but because you’re actually putting yourself out there and trying new things! If you think that blending in and relating to the locals is going to be easy, think again.
You’ll see that traveling from country to country, continent to continent, is not out of reach. Once Derik and I left the big gigantic US of A, we realized there was a world out there. You see, for some reason the US does a terrible job with world awareness. Everything is about what America is doing or isn’t doing, who is the biggest pop star, and what the next Bachelor is going to wear. And here I come tromping in to another country not knowing a single thing about it. I’m constantly getting schooled by Koreans and other international expats (outside the US) over their knowledge of the States as well as the rest of the world. It’s shameful really. Ok let me jump off this soap box before I continue.
- Osaka, Japan
Once outside the US, the possibilities of travel seem limitless, simply due to the price of plane tickets. Sure traveling from little ol’ Korea to the UK is going to cost a pretty penny, but traveling around Asia cost as much as traveling halfway across the US, sometimes cheaper! In our short time here, Derik and I have visited four countries other than Korea. It’s been a wonderful experience!
You’ll miss home and not be able to do anything about it. I wish there was a solution to this problem. It’ll be two years in February since I have seen a single person in my family (and Derik’s). It’s not that they don’t want to come visit, it’s the fact that it costs an arm and a leg. I get so jealous of other expats having their families here for a week or two at a time. My younger sister had a sweet baby (first baby for the three of us siblings) last November, and the first time I’ll get to meet her will be in January as Derik and I take a trip home to Hawaii for a visit. I’m so close to my sister, it was really hard missing her entire pregnancy and my niece’s first year of life.
You’ll see the world (and the people living in it) in a whole new way. Ready to get your life rocked? Visit a country lesser developed than your own. I guarantee you’ll see life a whole new way. Here we are freaking out about getting the newest iPhone, or seeing the latest movie, yet there are people living in metal and cardboard lean-tos that are hoping just to get one small meal for the day. My heart always reaches out to them, I wish I could take them all home with me.
- Phu Quoc, Vietnam
I love people. I double majored in college, and one of my majors was in Sociology. It’s intriguing to me the way people learn to love, laugh, and live in all sorts of different living conditions. Every country I have been to has had something else special to offer me. I’ve been bitten by the travel bug, and am not shaking it off soon.
Are you ready to pack your bags and join us? My husband love our life. We love living outside our comfort zone on a daily basis. It hasn’t been without its’ hardships, but through it all we have gained a priceless experience. I can’t even imagine going ‘home’ to the US right now and settling down! We were both made for traveling, and will enjoy it as long as we can.
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