Recently, I wrote a guest travel post for the ever fun and fabulous Shut Up and Go travel duo of Damon and Jo. I explained why I had to leave NYC in search of culture and a feeling of newness abroad in London. It was more than I dreamed of but also, not what I dreamed at all. Things happened and things didn’t happen; as is life no matter where you travel. But I feel it’s my duty to shed some light on people who love to travel this new idea – have you ever thought about relocating abroad?
If no, ask yourself why you’d pass on relocating or refuse to consider this option. To me, being an expat, even temporarily, is one of the best things you can do. It opens so many doors for you and gives you an experience like no other. To coax a few of you on the fence when it comes to expat life, I’ve identified four reasons why you should seriously adjust your life and relocate!
No one gets a truly blank slate in life (unless you have amnesia) but moving abroad to a new country can get you close enough. When you move to a new country, literally no one knows who you are or your story. To them, you’re a funky foreigner that could live up to the hype of your homeland’s stereotype or show them a brand new perspective. Also, everything is foreign to you as well. You can figure out where you want to live, what you want to do to earn money and who you want to hang out with. It can be like it’s the first time you’ve ever had to make this decision. I know new beginnings can be scary for most but I say lean in to the restart and see what cool person emerges (or how you might reaffirm who you are).
When you are in a new city as an expat, you’ll run into people from all over the world. But instead of hearing a foreign language on a tour or while eating dinner out at a banging restaurant, you’ll actually have time to interact with and get to know other cultures. As a girl who spent most of her life in the bubble that is NYC (it too is it’s own kind of bubble), nothing made my eyes truly open until I studied abroad in Paris for a semester. Learning a new language, figuring out how people lived day to day, trying to understand the layout of the city – these were all challenges but I can say with certainty that it changed me for the better.
The downside of travel in the form of vacation or holiday is that you may not have enough time to truly get to know a location. As an expat, you can take your time learning the intricacies of various neighborhoods; discovering which places are your go-to for excellent dining, what spots are great for coffee or finding a wine bar that is pocket friendly! Just imagine how many more Instagramable locations, museums you can visit and cool hangouts you can find when you don’t have to be in a rush. Slow travel can be just as exhilarating as a quick holiday.
Being alone in a new city can be frightening but nothing allows you to know yourself better. This sense that you are own your own and you have to work to make friends, setup your place and create a life gives you a new type of power. I’m not gonna lie though, some people don’t thrive on this. Some people panic and sink or shrink into a person they don’t know but if you keep your heart positive and believe that everything will turn out for the better, the things you find about yourself are invaluable. For instance, while abroad in Paris, I learned that I enjoy walking cities by myself. At first, I was doing it because I didn’t know what else to do but then, I started to enjoy my walks around the arrondissements. I could navigate myself anywhere I wished to go and could speak to people in decent French to get what I wanted. Who know when I would have learned I had the power to do that had I not become a temporary expat in Paris!
It’s true that solo expat life isn’t for everyone but I think it can be! And if not, bring a partner, sibling, friend with you! Doing it as a duo can be just as eye opening and life affirming. Remember, you don’t have to be an expat forever – you can always go back home. But take the chance, get out there and learn a new way to live, you’ll be better than you are right now.
Let me know if you’ve ever been an expat or have considered it. Why or why not?