The thought of relocating one’s entire life can be quite scary – and believe me, it’s not easy to pack up all your things, and move to a completely unknown place to start a life, for a period of time that’s longer than a holiday! I’ve moved around a lot and let me tell you – it doesn’t get easier. That being said, I wouldn’t give up my ability to move from place to place and experience different cultures for anything in the world! Being an expat, a traveller, a wanderer, or whatever you might call it has been and continues to be an absolutely amazing experience, teaching me something new almost every day. Here, I’m going to share with you some of the overarching things I’ve gained from being an expat, that hopefully will resonate with you through your travels too.
Your will broaden your perspective
Living abroad means you will be faced with different challenges that are completely out of your comfort zone. But, by doing so, you will inevitably broaden your mindset. Since you will become a deeply immersed member of a new community, you will have exposure to various customs and traditions that once may have seemed very foreign. From something as small as getting used to the city traffic in the by-lanes of Bangkok and learning to plan your time better, to very confusedly celebrating your first Chinese New Year in Singapore, you will learn to appreciate and embrace nuances of cultures that were once alien to you. These will become seemingly normal, due to your changed and widened perspective. Because you will be forced to embrace the unknown, you will become more open-minded, and eventually enjoy the thrill of newness that this uncertainty brings.
You will be immersed in a new way of life, and meet wonderful people
Even if you don’t actively immerse yourself, you won’t be able to stop yourself from learning about a new way of life. From mundane everyday habits, to larger culture-specific events, the ‘learning by experience’ that comes with living abroad is easily one of the most fulfilling aspects. There are so many facets to a new culture, especially the rich cultures that envelope South-east Asia. During my time in Thailand, I was exposed to food that I had never imagined I would every try. Ultimately, even though all of it didn’t suit my palette, trying different parts of Thai cuisine was a great conversation starter with locals, and some of my closest friends and ‘hang-out buddies’ were made through meeting at local restaurants and street food vendors. Being immersed in a new way of life eventually leads to you meeting many new and lovely people. My advice would be to try as much as you possibly can, because you never know when you might have to leave and it will all end.
You might be able to live very well for less money
One of the reasons people move abroad is because of the lower cost of living. Your money could take you a lot further abroad, especially if you have savings to take with you. For example, according to iExpats, countries like India, Nepal and Moldova have a relatively low cost of living as opposed to countries like Switzerland and Australia. Depending on where you decide to move, your cost of living could reduce significantly. A lot of countries in South East Asia are particularly budget friendly. It is important to have an idea about the cost of living in your country of choice, while also considering your savings.
You will enhance your professional skills
With their growing economies, the countries in the South-East Asian region are great for starting or growing a business. In an article about why twenty-somethings are better off moving to Asia, Shannon Ullman writes, “With all of the employment opportunities available to foreigners in Asia, it is almost inevitable that you will improve your ability to communicate with people, to problem solve, and to understand more of the business mentality of the working world.” Considering the major skills gap in the West, this is an undeniable benefit of moving to Asia.
You will discover new facets of yourself
Hadas Aharon, in an article about her life living as an expat, mentions that living abroad gave her insights that assisted her in her “self quest.” I know it’s super clichéd, but I couldn’t agree more! While every expat may not be on a self-quest, living away from home, facing different challenges, and learning to adapt definitely does help you get to know yourself better. I discovered my strengths and weaknesses, and found that I was content in a way different to how I previously imagined. For example, after joining a Thai cooking class, I discovered that I actually enjoyed cooking much more than I thought, and cooking subsequently became a way for me to de-stress. One of the things I appreciated most was that I let go of a lot of my preconceived notions of what is ‘acceptable’, allowing me to be satisfied and fulfilled in a way I hadn’t experienced before. Because of your experiences, and how you deal with everyone that comes your way, being an expat will unlock various parts of “you”, that you could be pleasantly surprised to find – I know I was!
Akshata Mehta has a passion for traveling and exploring the world. She loves to scuba dive, and is always on the lookout for her next diving adventure. Being a foodie, she spends a good amount of time cooking up concoctions in her kitchen, recording her recipes and travel adventures on her blog, With Love From Akshata.