Life of an Expat

Expat Life

Life of an Expat

Travelling the world is a fantasy for most, and for as long as I can remember, travelling and living overseas has been something I have always wanted to do.

Imagine sipping rosé wine in Spain, cooling down with a gelato in Ibiza, or munching on the famous Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo in Naples. Or how about visiting the pandas in China or the elephants in Thailand? Sure, it will be like living in a dream.

 

Well, that dream is our reality now.

 

Curious about how our life?

Buckle up your seatbelt as I give you a peek at what our life looks like, the good and the bad.

Expat dream

What does it really mean to be an Expat?

Being an expat is living outside your native country, in a foreign country, for an extended time, usually for work reasons. It commonly refers to professionals or skilled workers who are either sent abroad by their employer or a choice made by the individual or family to experience a new job in another country.  

You’re not a local, but then again, you’re not a tourist; you’re not on vacation, but you’re not at home. You have a house back in your home country, but you also have a home in your new country! 

And to friends that quickly become like family, who fill the gaps of social gatherings, be it holidays or birthdays and make you laugh till you want to cry. Or if you get sick, they are usually the ones that will come to your rescue!

Expat life

What is a life of an Expat?

It is a feeling of being trapped between two worlds, from leaving your family and friends back home and watching their lives via social media, corresponding through emails, telephone calls or video chats on Whatsapp or messenger and living an unknown life.

But if the opportunity arises and you plan to explore the world while living as an expat, be prepared to miss your friends and family, and don’t expect them to visit you overseas.

The new experiences as an expat can positively change your mindset, values, and beliefs, offering alternative ways to look at the world. Immersing yourself in another country’s culture allows you to meet people from all backgrounds and network with a diverse range of people.

The Benefits of Living a Life of an Expat

To start a life in a new country is like giving yourself a chance to redo everything in life. No one knows about you— your mistakes or past issues. You will have new opportunities, discover a new culture, and even learn a new language.

Having everything new is a bittersweet experience, though.

You will meet new friends and acquaintances from all kinds of backgrounds, and you will be able to grow your network, but sure, there will be nights when you miss your mom’s chicken soup at home.

It Offers a Travel Experience

The life of an expat appealed to us because we love travelling. Indeed, travelling is an excellent way to explore our passions and learn about the diversities of other countries and places; becoming an expat furnished us with this experience.

Cheaper Than Staying Home

The rule of thumb is that the cost of living will depend on the country that you are living in. For example, we spent more when travelling in Paris than when we stayed in Abu Dhabi. When we moved in from our home country, we were amazed at how cheaper the cost of living was. The money earned at home can indeed go a long way when you are abroad.

Expat Work Life

Meet New Friends

Although leaving your family at home can be challenging, you will be able to meet people from all walks of life as you step into a new place, and some of them can offer experiences as close as a family does.

From a fellow expat who shares the same experiences with you to a local who makes you feel at ease in the new place, you will be able to meet a new family away from home, which allows you to settle comfortably as an expat.

Expats meeting new friends

Personal Growth

I must admit that living as an expat could be challenging and entails a lot of courage. The hardship that comes along with learning a new language, finding a new place, and meeting new people are things that will test one’s courage.

Living a life of an expat is a character-building opportunity that helps you become more independent and self-reliant and will make you a better person.

Ultimately being an expat is about settling in while feeling uncomfortable. Overcoming such challenges is exponentially more rewarding abroad because they instil a sense of autonomy, personal growth and confidence in your life choices.

Expat personal Growth

The "Not so Good" side of being an Expat

Culture Shock

Firstly, the main issue that shook me out of my senses when I started living abroad was how real culture shock is. The surprising impact of moving from a familiar culture to an unfamiliar one brings up feelings of anxiety, disorientation, uncertainty, and confusion, even if you are a seasoned traveller.

Travelling is very different from actually settling in. Even if the people in the new place speak the same language, there is something in the local culture that is bound to be very different.

Language Barrier

Travelling is very different from actually settling in. Even if the people in the new place speak the same language, there is something in the local culture that is bound to be very different.

Another aspect is the language barrier, and this could be tough. It can make a difference to even the simplest tasks like buying food items from the grocery or communicating directions with the locals. But after the hurdle, once you can get used to how to communicate with the locals, you will find it to be such a rewarding experience and a considerable achievement. It should not be a surprise if you first struggle to understand the locals, their culture, their language etc. It is normal to feel lost and anxious. 

While it is very tempting to stay inside the Expat bubble and only spend time with people to whom you can relate, slowly going outside the zone is an experience worth the risk.  

Bureaucracy

The never-ending bureaucracy! As much as living abroad is exciting, it does take work. The initial visa process, the regular paperwork and trips to the local foreign affairs office to submit documents, renew residency or switch your driver’s license to your new home country. 

Feeling Homesick

Feeling homesick or disconnected as an expat is a natural part of this life choice and hits harder for some people than others. As much as you might be loving your new life abroad, that doesn’t mean you won’t miss the comforts of home; being an expat means missing out on things back home.

With all this, sometimes you will even question the whole decision. 

Summary

After three years of living outside the place I used to call home, I can say that we were able to enlarge our network expansively. We have new friends, some of whom we can call our family. We were able to become self-reliant, and best of all, we live our dream of travelling the world and visiting many places.

 

If we had known how amazing an expat’s life is, we should have dived into this life a long time ago!

Expat Old Life New Life
Travels of the World
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