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Living Overseas: What it’s like being an Expat

Living Overseas

Todays post is written by a roving expat with many years experience living overseas. His current adventure has taken him to Luxembourg, where he lives with his wife and son.

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What do expats want? A change. Why? Either they have reached a dead end or are bored stiff with their lives.

Either way they have a driving need to widen their horizon, start afresh in a new country. As an expat I met all sorts: those driven to Asia for economic reasons, those tied to romance, some running away from big issues at home or others just plain wandering. In all cases, I believe they shared a sense of risk-taking that you will not find amongst most regular folks at home besides a few, let alone the natural worldliness that comes with the experience. The idea that one can grow up and remain in a single society, to my mind, is disappearing fast in today’s globalised world. But then again, I hold this viewpoint because I am who I am: a cultural hybrid, ambitious, wandering the world, living overseas, searching for opportunities, just because I know it’s that easy to go and look for it where it is rather than limit one’s self to a small playground.

 

I’m not Bruce Wayne

I do have to accept my limits too: I was not clever enough, smart enough, connected enough, social enough to climb the narrow ladder offered to me in my home country. I was average, OK with about everything, shite at some stuff, good at a few others, and mostly lazy. Acutely aware of my own limits, I searched for a way to level the playground. How could I reach a form of success with my life without having to go through the gruelling rat race at home? Run away and start living overseas, was the answer. Physically running away from this boring country that was my home.

 

So that’s all it is in a gist. The idea that the globalised world forces people to move around still bothers a lot of people. Many still choose the old route today; that is a simple life in a well known surrounding. If you’re from a large city to start with, a capital, or have moved to one in your own country thanks to a hard earned and successful career, maybe you’ll have developed enough of a network to make do, or even thrive. Probably this article does not relate to you then. Because if you thrive in a capital, in a city in your own country, you end up meeting lots of foreigners, develop a global network, travel, etc… case closed, you end up being a citizen of the world. Or there are those that are content with less, a simple job, a close circle of friends, and are generally happy just like that. What can I say? I’m just not like that. When I had it it depressed me. Now I am not the same and cannot go back to it. Living overseas is now my hardwired reality.

 

Living Overseas won’t be Easy in the Beginning

This note is addressed to those stuck at home, like I was, near a dead-end, in need of something to juice up their career, their professional lives, their personal lives. As the Smashing Pumpkins said, those that feel like a Rat in a Cage. What you need, just like I needed, is an interesting path. That’s what choosing to become an expat and living overseas offers. Far from me the intention to mislead you into believing that it will be easy. It will be tough as shit. But the process, the path, will be fun as hell. Exhilarating. Think about it: you will be tasked with surviving day to day life in a country where most people do not speak English – hence your reason for going there: to teach them English.

 

Ultimately living overseas is akin to living on another planet: you cannot read, you cannot speak, you cannot understand the everyday bull of the consumption society. It’s a raw human experience. That is liberating! But you have to survive, and it’s hard. Luckily the magic of exchange rates will usually work in your favor, and hoping you do not have any dependents, things will end up being pretty cheap. You cannot talk the language… so you make friends. You adapt. You zoom in on people who can help you. Those first few weeks will already feel like months of experience packaged in crazy days. It’s priceless.

 

And it is only a start. A job just gives you an opportunity to move on. Once there, once you understand the kind of growth that is happening in other countries, in combination with the additional opportunities made available to you because of your strengths, the rest is just fun, scares and laughs all the way. Everything will be exponentially more intense. The scares scarier, the laughs harder, the love stronger. What’s not to like??? 


For further reading on why living overseas is amazing, check out 17 reasons why living overseas in Asia rocks.

 

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8 comments

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Rick H. a month ago

Or even better, you learn to speak the local language, you learn to read and write, and you adapt even more and learn to see the world from a different perspective…

Well put though, step outside the comfort zone and explore the endless possibilities that most people are reluctant to welcome – is what living overseas is all about, and something you cannot explain in words easily, you just have to do it; I agree! 🙂

    Tyler a month ago

    Hehehe, good point Rick! Learning the language definitively makes for a more immersive experience.

Kaitlin a month ago

Well, I chose a kind of middle path. I teach in KL, which is quite a cosmopolitan city, where many people do speak English. So although I am in an exotic atmosphere, I do not feel like a total alien. And I have my 7 year old daughter with me; she is getting a fabulous international level education in the school where I teach. Plus she is growing up knowing there is more to the world than just Canada. Learning so many values that will make her a better, more tolerant young woman, I hope…
And we both love the bazaars! 🙂

catleap a month ago

I spent 42 years in the U.S., expatriated from France… Now I am back in France and wondering where I really “belong”. Like Josephine Baker: “J’ai deux amours” the U.S. and France and miss one when I am living in the other…. Emotionally complicated but I don’t regret my choices. I am rich of my experiences and the story is not over – yet 😉

    Tyler a month ago

    Yes, many expats fall into this type mindset. At some point you start to become a citizen of the ‘world’, as cliche as that sounds. Actually the guest writer of this post is half French and stayed in Paris for 2 years before relocating to Luxembourg. I can’t count the number of times he complained about the transition back to a home culture.

    Love the attitude; it isn’t ever over…. well, almost never over ;).

sara a month ago

I appreciate language learning experiences. The fact that i read so much, and so profoundly, demonstrates the high level of your English.

ielts vocabulary

    Tyler a month ago

    I agree Sara, this was a very well-written piece! Stay tuned for some more great articles, coming soon! 😉

Robert a month ago

Not all expats end up in non-English speaking countries though, so language isn’t always a factor. But culture is.

Great article! You’re spot on everywhere else.


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