If there is one thing that I wish I would have done differently in my life it would be travel before I got married and had kids. Well, wait… there’s some other things I would have done differently too, but let’s just chat about this one today.
I love to travel. I think the world is an incredibly fascinating place. So many worlds, so many cultures and ways of life. It’s so interesting! And although I am so thankful that I get to have this experience with my husband and kids, I wish I would have done it just me.
When I was asked to contribute some tips for HiFX Expat page (see here) I started browsing around all the other blogs that are contributing and read their experiences. I’m jealous that they’re living it. I somehow forget that I am living it as well, just maybe not in the same way as they are.
So I thought it would be fun to share some things about being an expat that I’ve had to learn over the years. Some Expat tips if you will.
Whether you’re visiting another country or planning on making it your home, it’s best to do some prep work. Study the area, the history, the culture. Get an idea of the way things work there. I love reading up on the history of places before I go. It has so much more meaning to me when I know more about it.
Let it go…
No, not the Frozen song although now I’m singing it. You can prepare for years and years but nothing will actually prepare you for living there. So there’s got to be a balance. Prepare as you can but also be ready to let go of any expectations you had before arriving. This can go for visiting other countries as well. It’s best to try to have a blank slate before, ready to take it all in and appreciate the beauty of it all.
Just because it’s different than the way your country does things doesn’t make it bad. Of course you might prefer things other places, but it’s okay to try other things. There are some things I will never understand about the French, but I’m learning to love them and their culture even if it’s different than the way we do things. And isn’t that what makes the world so beautiful? There are so many cultures and way of doing things and no one looks the same or acts the same. Do your best to see the beauty in it all and appreciate the differences.
Give it a shot.
The language, the food, the culture, whatever is new and being presented to you, give it a shot! For one, it’s fun to try new things; and second, you will show the locals how willing you are to try their culture and make new friends in the process! I have noticed particularly in France when I didn’t speak the language as well that when I gave it a shot, people were so much nicer than when I started with “Do you speak English?” even if I did say that in French. And now that I speak French well enough to have conversations and such, they are much nicer because they’re happy they don’t have to use their English!
It is actually possible to live in another country and not experience the culture. It’s true! And it’s actually relatively easy. Don’t do it! The harder thing to do is put yourself out there to make friends. It’s not easy but it’s necessary. So what if you make a fool of yourself in another language and show up at someone’s house at the wrong time because you misunderstood (totally been there!). At least you’re out experiencing life! Everything will become easier once you continue to put yourself out there more.
Those are the main ones I can think of right now. I want to write more about being an expat, and since my post about the difference between French and American schools, I think some of you find it interesting!
Anything in particular you’d like to hear about?