The idea of being an expat may be something that you have been considering for a while. It sounds exciting, challenging and rewarding, all things which are true. One thing that certainly comes with living in a new country is change; it is a constant, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Constant change makes us more flexible and increases our ability to adapt, two life skills that will inevitably improve your quality of life.
Some people decide to become an expat when they retire, while for others it is career choice, sometimes one that is presented to them, sometimes one that they search. If you fall into the latter category, how do you find a new job, perhaps even a new career in an entirely different country? One approach is to use a recruitment agency or a company that brings employers and employees together, such as Jobs Worker Service. These are specialist companies that deal primarily with expats.
Different Cultures and Languages
When you move to a new country, you will immediately be aware that there is a different culture. The way of life that you are used to, the commonly accepted practices and potentially, the speed of life are all about to change. It will be one of the first things that YOU need to adapt to, after all, you are the one that is a guest in a different country. Failure to adjust to cultural differences and expecting people to change for you is one of the most common reasons why some expats don’t make the transition.
Although being proficient in the language may not be essential, learning at the least the basics will build a firm foundation for your stay in the country. Learning a new language is rewarding and will help you to become more involved and take more from the experience of living abroad. While in many countries, languages such as English are often spoken, just sticking to your native tongue or even English, if it is a second language, can lead to you missing out.
Meeting Different People
One of the things that many people find most intriguing about being an expat is the community spirit. Expats are generally a friendly bunch, they know what you are experiencing when you first arrive, they were in that position once too, and most of the time, they are happy to help. Many people comment that the community spirit reminds them of a bygone era in their own country, but it is alive and well as an expat. Of course, as you become more ingrained in expat life, it will naturally add a new dimension to your life.
In your own country, more often than not, the vast majority of people are born and bred there. That is very different when you are an expat. While one country might make up the majority, you will almost certainly meet people from a range of different continents, not just countries. You will make new friends, learn about their country and cultures and get a far broader understanding of the world. You will become more open-minded and with it, more accepting of different viewpoints and attitudes.
Traditional stereotypes are often thrown out of the window, and you start to view everyone as an individual rather than prejudging them by their passport. Lots of expats comment on how this makes them happier as people, more relaxed and comfortable in their new surroundings. Almost certainly, when you go back home, your friends and family will recognise the changes just as you will understand your old “old” way of life. These are things that happen naturally and are changes that should be embraced.
Of course, being an expat will allow you to see some unusual sights. Perhaps you like visiting temples, local markets or wildlife sanctuaries. These are all things that you will now be able to do. Seeing and visiting new things enhances anyone’s life, and in themselves, can be life-changing. You may change some of your beliefs, find a new hobby or find a cause that becomes close to your heart. Seeing new things opens your eyes.
Of course, some of the things that you see may not be so pleasant, but these too are things that can add a new dimension to your life. Perhaps seeing beggars, polluted rivers and oceans, or exploitation may have a profound effect on you. Of course, this too will add a new dimension to your life, and you may feel that you can may a difference.
The Local Food
Every country around the world has its own cuisine. Tasting different local delicacies is a must for expats. Falling in love with the food in your new country is common. Some would say that this is “going native”, but for most, it is about embracing your new life. Local food, unique tastes, and even eating traditions are fascinating and will change how you eat forever. Curry for breakfast in Europe? It’s unlikely, but in Asia this is common!
Many local foods, particularly those in Asia, are far healthier than what we are used to in Europe, the US or Australia. The food is fresh from the market, prepared in front of you, often lacking in additives, colourings and preservatives. Eating healthier foods may seen a shift towards a more healthy lifestyle, perhaps even warmer temperatures may encourage you outdoors more; all things that would benefit your life. Simply changing your diet may also improve your life!
Finally, living in a new country will create some new opportunities for you and your family. They may be professional opportunities, or they may be something more personal. These opportunities, assuming that you grasp them with both hands, could add a new dimension to your life. It could be a skill that you can take “back home” or something the means you can extend your experience as an expat either in your current country or a new one.
Being an expat is a wonderful life if you can make the adjustments at first. Be open to different cultures, different ways of life and embrace them. You will gain a greater sense of happiness and fulfilment with your life being changed, for the better, forever. No one can take away your experiences, they what make you who you are.