As I already said living abroad, for work or for studying, is not all rainbows and unicorns. But now I’ll talk to you about the positive and exciting part, why being an expat is amazing, and how many things you realize and experience… trust me, it’s totally worth the initial struggle!
Here are the reasons why:
1 | THE PEOPLE
If I think about the amount of people I’ve met during these 2 years…it’s crazy! At parties, at uni, in hostels, while taking a tour…at home! But the amazing thing is that each of these friendships has left me something, maybe a memory living together, a talk, a dinner, a travel… the list could go on and on. Of course there are people who I had the opportunity to know better and others which I barely remember their names (well okay I’m really bad at remembering names ;p).
In particular, I distinguish three type of people:
– Those who, when we met, sparked a triggered, as if we were old friends. These are also the people that despite the distance, despite the jet lag and life circumstances are still part of my life, we skype a lot and thanks to facebook or social media we are always updated about each other lives. [To specify: these people are not many but VERY special!]
– Those who you spend nice time with and you have memorable moments when you think about them, but after that the friendship didn’t really continue. Yeah you see on Facebook how they’re doing, maybe like some pics, but not really talk to them.
– The people whose exact face or name you can’t remember, but they still left you something. For example these 3 Australian guys my friends and I met during our stay in Hamburg… I still remember all the adventures they told us about, and the glow they had in their eyes while talking.
2 | THE SELF -CONFIDENCE
Looking for a place to stay without being in that country, or being able to see the apartment, with no understanding about how the transportation works or which is the best subscription for you. How to register at your city district office (and actually, first figuring out where the city district office is!)…. It’s not easy at all! But, the positive thing is that you’ll learn how to handle bureaucratic-annoying stuff, and how to solve problems (and these are things that in life will always come up). So know how to deal with them, and even more, have the self-confidence to handle them, it’s a huge advantage that you’ll realize you’re lucky to have!
3 | IT TOTALLY OPENS YOUR EYES & MIND
Well, let’s talk about living by yourself in a new country, or not necessarily a new country, even just a new city, where you have to figure out how things work and what the local customs are. You have to be open and ready to change your habits, and maybe learn new ways to approach things. Maybe at the beginning you’ll struggle, or maybe you even won’t like it, but after a while you’ll realise how good it was to go out of your “usual schemes” and try something different. In addition to this, when getting to know new people and cultures you’ll realize how so many stereotypes are wrong, and how some of them are totally right. For example, yes, Belgian people are totally obsessed with beer. Also, you’ll learn to accept and not judge things that at home you won’t normally see. For example, I’m not shocked any more when seeing people cutting spaghetti to eat it 😀 (okay well, I still have a little heart-attack each time I see this but way less than before… 😉 ) because at the same time people are shocked seeing you doing other things (for example when I use olive oil and not dressing to season my salad 😀 )
4 | THE FOOD
THIS IS A BIIIIG POINT. Meeting people from different countries = tasting food from different countries = be ready to buy a new pair of pants in a larger size 🙂 No really, after trying real Chinese food or authentic peanut butter, I realized how not at all the Chinese food and peanut butter I bought in Italy were similar to the original one! And not only do you have the possibility to taste awesome food, you can often even learn how to make it! I still can’t believe that in Denmark I made my first sushi (and yes, it was actually good!).
Plus, international dinners, or in general eating a meal with someone, are always a good idea to meet new people and learn different taste and habits 😉
5| OH THE PLACES YOU’LL SEE…
Another positive aspect about meeting new people, who are maybe also living in a place different from their home town, is that it often leads to sharing each other’s “where to go” list. Sometimes the places match, especially if they are near the country you’re living in, and in no time you’ll find yourself organising a trip with them to a new undiscovered place! The excitement related to discovering a new place is always a big motivation to go somewhere as soon as possible for a traveller, and imagine when the travellers are 2 or 3!! 😉 I went to Berlin with my Turkish and American friends that I met in Denmark, and then to Ireland with my Canadian friend who I met in England. It’s so crazy when you think about it but I honestly couldn’t have found better travel mates! 🙂
What about you? Have you ever lived abroad? Which was your favourite part about it? I’d love to hear your experience!