A window into expat life
Let me just starting by saying, I’m not here to discourage anyone from taking that step of faith to begin whatever adventure God is calling them on.
I encourage everyone to get out and see more of the world and experience more cultures. There are so many excellent reasons to do this and the advantages can not be over exaggerated.
My theory is that especially if you’re American like me, there’s a good chance you’ll find many from your family and friends who will encourage you to do it. There will be naysayers for sure, but a lot who just hope you’ll see the world and come back to tell them about it. (Americans generally aren’t as tied to any one location as some other nationalities I’ve come in contact with. Exploring the world is often viewed as an opportunity to grow as a person, not just an irresponsible whim).
Take advantage of the times we’re living in
We are actually living in a special time when hopping on a plane or up and deciding to transplant yourself to a new culture is easy in terms of transportation and communication.
Easy doesn’t mean you won’t have to sell your guitar or your car or both to finance the plane tickets over the ocean (yes, I’m speaking from experience). But ticket bargains are out there, and if money is no object, the world is literally at your fingertips in just a few hours.
Easy also may not mean that time differences aren’t still problematic. But seriously, Skype and Facebook have made it possible for people to travel and/or live abroad, who totally wouldn’t have otherwise. This connection with family and friends is HUGE even for those of us who said at least at one point that leaving home was no big deal. (keep reading for more on that)
So at first, if you’re of the same personality and adventurous spirit as me, then traveling and living abroad will be an absolute blast. I promise. But.
Because there’s almost always a but.
As with anything in life, it’s always better to go with your eyes wide open. Some say only experiencing it yourself can truly open your eyes, but it never hurts to educate and prepare yourself as much as possible.
Here’s one of the number one things you need to know and try to grasp as much as you can before setting foot on that airplane.
Leaving your family and friends ain’t no joy ride
I’m speaking more of the longterm stuff, but it could already apply for some who leave even just for a couple of weeks or months. People are going to tell you, “I could never leave my family and friends, but I think it’s cool what you’re doing” and you’re going to think, “Ok man, but you’re really missing out,” and be on your way. Maybe you know it would be more of a challenge for you already, but you still don’t know how much of one.
And then you’re going to get over there and your sister is going to have her first baby, your first niece or nephew, (in my case nephew) and I mean it… Your adventurous, independent spirit is going to start withering right then.
Your other sister is going to become engaged and ask you to be her bridesmaid, and your going to miss her showers, lingerie party and have more or less zero involvement in planning.
Your uncle might have a wreck, and you might have to watch from an extremely long distance as your family is tortured by hope and the questions pertaining to his future demanding an answer. You’ll cry alone when you hear he’s passed on.
To make matters worse, the devil sees maybe before you do, how much you actually do care about the distance between you and your family. Fear is his foothold. All of a sudden you realize so clearly, with a fear that just grips your heart, “Anything could happen to anyone, and I wouldn’t be there“.
|| note: Recognize this post? I posted a variation of it on my personal blog last year, but multiple friends back home going through hard things recently brought it all to the forefront again. This is an expat’s consistent reality. ||
My answer for that is part II coming later this week. Meanwhile, have you subscribed yet? Subscribe and be sure not to miss a single post 🙂