3 very real things I learned from living as an expat


King Fahad Fountain, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

‘…but I’m here for the money’. His words rang in my ears. Am I totally mistaken? Have I got this whole expat life thing completely wrong?

Let me tell you why I decided to pack my bags and up sticks to a whole new country.
Don’t get me wrong, naturally the money helps. A bubble of not paying bills, mortgages and no real commitments. Allow your imagination to suddenly be set free, escape reality and permit yourself on a life changing adventure. A freedom you’ve only dreamt of.

Of course, everyone is different. Some have families, houses, different ambitions and goals. For others it infringes on forming normal relationships and keeping a hold on transient friendships becomes difficult, resulting in a pressing feeling to quit the lifestyle.
My goal was always the same, it’s never shifted. It’s quite simple to me. Be happy.
I’m always asking myself questions, naturally inquisitive about life. Not only does it help me learn and grow, but its also enormously therapeutic and helps me to understand myself and why I make the choices I make. This decision was one of the easiest.

I suppose in a lot of ways, moving into an expat lifestyle saved me from many things. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind. You don’t even realise it until you’re drowning in some kind of corrupt desire to please everyone but yourself. To conform to what is expected of you. To lose sight of how you want to live your life. Easy to forget that every day you are growing older, and that to grow old is a privilege. We only get this one opportunity to live life how we want, no matter how that may be or where our decisions may take us.

Don’t we all need saving from something?

I guess it takes courage to up sticks and leave your own corner of the earth. The corner you call home, but maybe wont for much longer. The corner you grew up in, made friends in, have family in. The corner you believe is the greatest corner of the world. I never did understand nationalism.

We all dream, and likewise we all can make our dreams come true- it’s just figuring out a way and taking a leap of faith… and then learning to deal with the confusion that comes with it…


1. Not everything is as comfortable as home

Embark on your new journey, drink in the unfamiliar environment. One thing you see a lot in people that move to a new corner of the world is the tendency to moan. Of course, standards and lifestyles are different to that in your own corner. Isn’t that what you’re challenging? Find something you love and discover a new passion in your new corner of the world and allow that to be your focus. You need to learn quick that living standards are generally extremely different all over the world. Bye bye western style toilets and ant-free kitchens. If you can’t tolerate that, then it’s time to go home. If you don’t feel the passion, you’ve made the wrong decision.


2. A closed mind will get you nowhere

Learn to break stereotypes, open your mind, and naturally the world will let you in. The pull of homesickness will threaten to wrench at your heart, the familiar feeling of missing family and friends. But don’t we all make sacrifices in one way or another? Learn the language, accustom yourself to local ways of life and embrace cultural differences. Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. My time in the Middle East taught me how to dress modestly and drink my tea differently and most of all, how to live, socialise, work and make friends amongst a totally different culture.


3. People are judgemental

Life is a journey, and everyone is on their own special path. We all make our life choices and shape those choices into a lifestyle. Some will support us, others won’t. Those who are most important, always will and those relationships will strengthen even when separated by skies and seas. We will learn from those relationships, both good and bad things. Life will go on without you and some friendships wont survive but new ones will continuously form.

Some will always judge others and life as an expat wont always feel straight forward. Sometimes you’ll revel in it. Sometimes you’ll despise it. But if you have the right personality and curiosity to see much more than your own corner, then the world is out there for your taking ❤

2 thoughts on “3 very real things I learned from living as an expat

  1. This is great! I love your reminder that not everything is as comfortable as home. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say things like “well, back home…” It’s like “Stop it! You’re in a new place!”


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