10 Things About Living Abroad: No Turning Back
By Rachel Rae
Moving around the world teaches you many things. It isn't for everyone. It takes a special type of person to be able to do what we do. Packing up all your things into two carry-on bags and two checked pieces of luggage is struggles in itself, and to generalize, imagine being a woman! I could only bring 10 pairs of shoes! Your mother will go through that luggage and make you narrow it down to seven cardigans instead of 17 and she will remind you that those shorts still don't fit and haven't fit for 3 years, so you should probably just let them go. Along with letting those shorts go you are also letting go of friendships, relationships, comfort.
A wise man told me that the reason we move to new countries is because we are either running from or running to something. I laughed and thought he was crazy. I just wanted a change; there was no rationale to my choice. The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. I wasn't just running from something, I was sprinting as far as I could. What I didn't realize was that this choice has now started the foundation of my future. Just like a tattoo, that first little taste and you want more and more. No turning back.
1. Freedom. A new sense of freedom. Freedom to do and go as I please. Freedom to travel. Freedom to make choices without a safety net. Freedom to be yourself.
2. Watching your life at home pass by. Birthdays come and go. Marriages. Deaths. Life doesn't stop and wait for you.
3. Math skills strengthen as you are always trying to convert your local currency into your home currency. You know it is even better when you convert your new currency to your previous country. Everything is still in pesos for me.
4. Communication. Responding to someone in any language but the language they are speaking.
5. Stories. The stories you will have to tell for the rest of your life are so unbelievable most people will think you are exaggerating.
6. You realize little holidays and moments you didn't think mattered are the ones that make you the most homesick.
7. Growth. As much as you hate to admit it, with each move you grow. You learn the best ways to pack, meet new friends, get around, and survive.
8. Adrenaline. Those thrill seekers jumping off canyons and out of airplanes have nothing compared to boarding a plane and traveling to an unknown place. Not knowing anyone. Not knowing your surroundings. Not knowing the language. Now that is a real adrenaline rush.
9. Patience. Realizing no one understands you. No one cares. Ordering food, getting in a taxi and normal every day tasks take patience. Nothing is ever easy. A 10-minute task at home will take you 60 minutes. Accept it.
10. Having to say hello for the first time and having to say goodbye for the final time. Not many people get to experience this, but I have perfected it. This could quite possibly be the hardest and most dreaded part of my life.
Start slow, go to a new place. Alone. Go to a city by yourself. Go on a vacation, alone. Throw yourself out there. Your own sink or swim. When you begin to panic and want to go home is when your fight or flight will kick in. That true inner strength will shine through. You will fight it out and you will thank yourself later. I know I did.