Five Life Changing Lessons I've Learned From Living Abroad
Five years ago, my family and I moved to Asia. When we first landed in Macau, I'd no idea what lay ahead. The furthest I'd been out of the USA was Mexico. I knew I wanted to travel and the little one was young enough where it wouldn't affect her, while the oldest was excited equally excited and bummed. She'd be leaving her friends. It was harder on the teen than for the rest of us.
However, the expat community is big outside of the USA. There are all kinds of groups you can connect with. From mommy-to-be, entrepreneurs, singles and wine lovers.
If you know me, you know I joined a few wine communities.
And, do you know what I learned about everything? Life? Me? The universe?
Five life changing lessons I've learned form living abroad
- No one cares what you wear. That's right. You can wear your pajamas to go grocery shopping and no one looks twice. I'm sure you'll miss seeing your image on Shoppers of Walmart, but what's important is that you're no longer consumed with the stress of picking out an outfit just to run errands.five life changing lessons I've learned form living abroad
- A better understanding of friendships: There are different types of friends you make as an expat. The one-night friends. (I've made tons of those: cultivating friendships that lasted until the bottles of wine were empty. Good times.) Forever friends. Mommy and me friends. (These are friends you make for the sole purpose of your children) And, friends you only party with. They all have their unique and special benefits and I make it a point not to mix them. Why? Not all mommy-and-me-friends will understand why you got home at 4am on a Monday night. But you're party friends will understand. Mostly, because they were there and have pictures to prove it. So, go out there and make friends. Especially ones that will help ease your transition. However, leave the camera at home.
- How to downsize: You have no idea how many times a year I donate or throw stuff away. When you travel more than the average person, you realize you don't need UNICLO stretchy pants in every color. Okay, I have to keep the jean colored one and the khaki. But, houndstooth I can part with. And, don't get me started on all the toys my kid has. For her birthday and Christmas, I've made it a point to teach her she's got to give some away in order to receive new ones. For the most part, it works. Until, I spot a musical stuffed giraffe she's had since birth and I hide it in my closet for safe keeping. #weallhaveissues. There are also benefits to downsizing. For one thing, there's less clutter and less to manage. You create a calmer atmosphere where you're no longer consumed with owning "stuff."
- Your past doesn't matter: No one cares! Not about your love life, how many jobs you've had, and especially how many times you stalked your ex. Living in a new country is like creating a new life! Be who you want to be.
- You're stronger than you think: Yes, the food is different. Yes, your long-time friends are thousands of miles away. You're missing your parents and your siblings and you know what, it's okay. Why? Because you're making friends, learning new cultures and trying new things. After a few weeks, this new world will seem normal.
First thing to remember is that living in any new place is going to be difficult. You have to be grounded, emotionally and mentally to be able to get over the bumps. You're going to have moments of loneliness and fear. And, that's okay. The point is not to linger in the negative feelings.
You might also enjoy reading, "It's time to say goodbye."