It’s Wednesday! Around here, we call it “bump day.” Each and every Wednesday we’ll post a tip, trick, gadget or something fun and random to get you through the rest of the week.
On Monday I took a walk down memory lane, reminiscing about all the items I no longer have access to now that I’m living abroad (see post). Next week marks our four year anniversary in Barbados and, although on Monday I may have made it seem like expatriatism has its incredible downfalls, I can say that the past eight years (another four in the Cayman Islands before this gig) of my life have been truly remarkable and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Are you an expat? Have you recently been offered the opportunity to live overseas? Or have you thought about stepping outside your comfort zone (Ree’s personal experience) and making the change?
If you have, or if you ever have the chance in the future to explore another country, here are the top 10 reasons why I love being an expat.
learn a new culture
- I’ve never quite had the opportunity to fully understand or get to know another culture the way I have when I’ve lived outside the U.S. From tasting the food, driving the neighborhoods, and listening to the native language, text books and the internet don’t quite grasp the many things that make each country and culture unique. I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived in two countries and, although both are in the Caribbean and have their similarities, they are each special and distinctive. That’s something I could never have understood had I not lived there.
travel a lot
- Since moving to the Caribbean 8 years ago, I have visited 9 different countries, 20 cities, and of course traveled home to NYC and DC dozens of times. I get to travel a lot! Part of it is certainly the fact that I always have to get in a plane to go anywhere, but the other part is that traveling is a lot less scary than it was before I was an expat. Now I feel comfortable and any fears I once had no longer exist.
friends from all over the world
- I realized recently that I have more international friends than I have American friends. How cool is that? I have met some of the most amazing people, learned an incredible amount about people, relationships and life, and have had unforgettable experiences. My two closest friends I met in the Cayman Islands, this blog is the result of meeting a wonderful woman in Barbados (yup, it’s Ree), and I know that as life moves on and everyone moves on with it I’ll have a friend nearby to call upon.
- Nothing quite prepares you for what you’ll experience while you’re an expat. And nothing gives you more patience than learning to adapt to a new way of living. The slower island lifestyle has really taught me to slow down and not sweat the small stuff. Ever stood in the grocery line for ten minutes because the customer in front of you was chatting with the cashier? Ever nearly bumped into the back of a car because the driver was picking up a friend who needed a ride? Ever sat on an airplane ready to take off only to have to wait for tardy passengers? Regardless of what kinds of changes you may encounter in a new country, learning to adapt builds patience and understanding.
- I feel comfortable traveling alone, starting a new class on my own, and doing pretty much my own thing. I think it’s important to have interests aside from our spouses and children. And expatriatism has fostered that mentality by giving me the time, resources, and confidence to tackle something alone. Are there times when I get lonely and wish my friends were here to CrossFit with me? Of course. But there are also times when I’ve accomplished something on my own, like training for a race, and have felt overwhelmingly free.
comfortable with change
- I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have discussed, “What’s next?,” with family, friends, and each other. In all honesty, I’m not exactly sure, but I know whatever it is, wherever it is, I’ll not only be okay, but I’ll be so comfortable with the idea that I’ll happily accept the challenge. Once you’ve changed once, all other changes in life seem easy peasy.
- I no longer get scared of the uncertainty. One of the things I fear when I’m old and nearing the end of my life is regret – wishing I had done something that I was too afraid to try (like starting a business, taking a class, or learning a new skill). Being an expat has helped motivate me to be more resilient, see things really aren’t that scary, and become fearless.
- Okay, sometimes its boring here (this is probably more specific to the Caribbean), but I’ve become incredibly creative on how our family spends time together. We push ourselves more to go out and do things. Sure, we were always busy in NYC, but there it was handed to us on a silver platter. There was never any shortage of things to keep us busy. Here, however, we have to search, explore, and get creative. And, in turn, it’s made me more creative in other areas of my life as well. Like cooking, (well that’s partly because you’re always missing at least one ingredient from the store), exercising, and getting together with friends, coming up with new ideas for these things have made it all so much more fun.
- So 1-8 all summed up into number 9…being an expat builds character. I’m a different person now having become an expat, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Will we move to another country after this? Possibly. Or return to NYC? Not sure. But whatever we decide, we’ll be together and I know we’ll have the most amazing journey.
pass it on to your children
- Most importantly though, every adventure we take, every change we make, everything we do is being passed on to our daughter. She gets to experience it all. To me, that has made this voyage absolutely worth it. And, well, at the very least, she’ll have one hell of a story to tell when she’s older.
If you could move anywhere in the world, where would it be?