Accepting a new work challenge, continuing your studies, following your soul mate, improving your quality of life or just seeking for adventure are all good reasons to start a new life abroad. But only one thing is for sure when you decide to expatriate yourself: you will never be the same again.
Moving to another country can be the most exciting change in your life: grabbing new opportunities, meeting new people, visiting new places… It can also be daunting sometimes: being away from all things familiar, learning a new language, finding new friends… But all this will make you grow and develop at new levels, showing you skills and strengths you never thought you had. It will also change the way you see life.
Although this is a very individual experience, there are some things most of us go through at some point. So, here’s what to expect when you’re an expat (or 7 ways your life will change forever):
1. You’ll see your own country in a whole new way. Yes, I know this sounds a bit cliché but it’s totally true. When you eventually come back home for the holidays or on vacation for the first time, every little detail that seemed invisible when you were living there will now present itself to you with a new intensity. The good and the bad. Even your own language will sound different to your ears after some months abroad.
2. The world will be your home. As time goes by you’ll start to feel at home in your adoptive land. And as you discover your ability to adapt to a complete new place, with a new language, new habits and new people, you’ll feel you could do that anywhere you wanted. The world will become smaller to you and you’ll learn to feel comfortable everywhere.
3. You’ll become eager for new adventures. Now that you just start exploring the world you’ll not want to stop here. Being an expat will make you keen to travelling and visiting new cultures. After some time living in the same place you may even start feeling a little bored and dreaming about a new relocation somewhere else, where you could feel a foreigner again.
4. You’ll feel a stranger in your homeland. As the world becomes your oyster your homeland will start feeling a bit of a foreigner place. You’ll still love your country and go back to visit anytime you have a chance, but, as much as you would like that, it will never feel completely the same again. You’ll become familiar with this kind of mixed feelings of being at home and a stranger everywhere, including your own native land.
5. You’ll have friends and family all over the globe. And you’ll be ok with that. You’ll become used to being away and missing people. The days when you could bring all your friends and relatives together for the holidays or to celebrate your accomplishments may be over, but now you have free accommodation in the whole world.
6. You’ll develop empathy. Don’t get me wrong. Being an expat is not all excitement and adventure. Chances are you’ll also know loneliness, fear, failure, doubt, inadequacy and insecurity during your journey overseas. But the struggle to survive and succeed all by yourself in a foreigner country will hopefully make you more empathetic with the struggles of other people, whom at different levels are also fighting to survive in this world.
7. You will grow as a person. Every life experience presents an opportunity to growth and expatriation is no exception. The fights and joys of existence outside your comfort zone will probably force you to put things in perspective and define your life’s values. This experience will make you think about what kind of person you really want to be and how you want to live your life in this planet. Enjoy it the best you can!