Things People Don't Tell You About Living Abroad
You hear a lot of similar things about living abroad - the difficulty of learning a new language, how the adventure changes you for the better, that cultural communication will take effort but it's worth it.
I talk about these things too, and they are all true! But I found there were some things that surprised me about expat life, and I wanted to share the lesser talked about things with you.
1. You can still get into a rut
You might think it's going to be a glamorous and exciting journey, and it is. But after awhile, just like back home or anywhere else, you get into a routine, and this can turn into a rut.
This happened to me in my second year in Shanghai, when I was living in a suburb with lots of other expat teachers. My apartment was 1 km from my work, I knew everyone in the the area, and I pretty much frequented a small handful of restaurants and shops.
For me it was a sign that I should move to a new neighborhood and change things up, which was awesome, but I really was surprised at how easy it was to get into a rut in such a foreign environment.
2. Your perspective goes global
Being from the US, I grew up immersed in North American culture. But Shanghai is home to more than 200,000 expats, and my closest friends were not only Chinese but from all over the world, from Australia to Kenya to the UK.
When I look at any world issue now, I see through a lens of multiple perspectives. I also embraced the metric system, know a lot about "saving face" and why it matters, and have learned how to communicate in different ways based on who I am talking to and where they're from.
There is no going back from that expansion of perspective, and I am happy about it!
3. Your true self, revealed
As I wrote about in a previous blog post, Expat Expectations vs Reality, wherever you go there you are. Moving abroad will take away much of what previously defined you - your social circle, job, the neighborhood where you live, the activities you did for fun.
When all that is stripped away what you have left is the truth about who you are. In my case, I didn't really like some of what I saw, and it motivated me to make big and small changes in my life until I felt aligned with the person I wanted to become.
This was one of the things I was most grateful for, because even though it was challenging I have more confidence and clarity than I ever did in my life in back in the US.
4. Relationships back home change
I figured that my friendships would change, but not to the extent that they did. Once I moved abroad I lost touch with people who I thought would be lifelong friends. It was at times painful, but as I changed and grew I knew what kind of people I really wanted in my life.
This was such a blessing, because a lot of people fell away and my true friends were left standing. I love that I have a core set of people I make an effort to keep in touch with back home, and that I have made space for new people to come into my life!
I am here to help you ♡
Nobody understands better than I do the highs and lows of expat life. In just one free session with me we will get clear about what you really want, determine what is holding you back, and identify powerful actions you can take to create your best life abroad. Let's do it!
Book here: https://calendly.com/jenknight/free-session
Hi, I'm Jen! I am a US expat and have lived abroad for six years, first in Shanghai and now in beautiful Thailand.
I always strive to learn, grow, and be the best version of myself, and I'm so grateful I get to spend my days working with amazing expat women like you:
Women who are smart and want to reach their goals, but need help overcoming stress, overwhelm, and other obstacles so they can create their best lives abroad.