The loneliness of the expat is of an odd and complicated kind, for it is inseparable from the feeling of being free, of having escaped.
This quote captures the feeling of being an expat perfectly . You are free. You have taken distance from your life at your birth town. Yet you are alone, on a quest. A quest to a life full of adventures, discovering new cultures, traveling, meeting new people, learning, falling and getting up. It is not that different from a normal life based in the same village as your family and friends. It’s just that you have come to the realization that life will end one day, and you want to make the best out of each and every day and life your true purpose.
Phew, that was kind of heavy. Let’s discuss in a more lighter way how the life on an expat is made up. It has been since February 2018 since I last spent an official night as resident at my parents home. After that, I lived in Barcelona and Lisbon. I took a chance, started a new life. Twice. And what I have learned from this, in this relatively short time of period, is beyond what I could have imagined.
You Get To Know Yourself More
Being an expat, living on yourself in a new environment in a new country, you automatically get to know yourself more. You know what you can handle and what you can’t. You discover new interests, new hobbies, new habits, etc. I myself became more strong and spiritual while living in Lisbon. I never liked doing any kind of sports, but here I love devoting my time to yoga. Everybody’s experience is different, of course. But you get to know your habits, your addictions and your needs.
You Blossom Up & Find Your True Purpose
Because you have no outer distractions or influences or other people around you – whether it be family, friends or a lover – you can do completely what you want to do. It’s like solo traveling – you get to do what you want thus you take your chances to try out new things. While trying these new things, you meet new people, you experience what you like and what you don’t like and you can move on with that knowledge.
“Stepping out of that comfort zone is scary. Challenging. Frightening. And the best thing that can happen to you.”
You Gain Independence
Living on yourself or sharing a house with (an)other person(s) causes you to be more independent. You clean, clean up, do groceries, manage your life and household; you know how to take care of yourself and build up your own life. This is important knowledge everybody needs in their lives. To be able to take care of yourself on your own is the most important thing you can learn.
Loneliness & Homesickness Is Inevitable
Even if you build up your own life in a new country, surrounded by glorious self-love, friends, maybe a lover, an amazing job, there will always be missing that one part: family. You will be homesick and you will miss your family and friends at home. That’s natural; how can you not miss the most important people in your life? But that is what makes the visit to home that much better and fulfilling. And the moments when you cherish these people and memories, will give you a feeling of gratitude because you realize you have these amazing people to miss.
Being An Expat Opens Up Your Mind & the World
Let’s continue with the most wonderful advantage, and maybe the reason why you became or want to become an expat: discover the world. Explore new cultures. Not as a tourist, but as an expat. By living somewhere, and truly mixing in that culture, you will gain experience about how that culture truly is like. It opens up your mind: you are open to new experiences, like learning that new language, getting to know all about the local food, music, traditions, and so on. And hereby comes the realization of how big the world is (and that you should explore as much as you can).
You Are Open To New Experiences
Imagine living at your parents’ village your entire life. Would you try new things? Things that scare you? Would you eat new kinds of food that you never heard about before? Would you learn a new language, not by an online course but by really speaking and hearing it? Your answer is probably no. In your comfort zone, you are safe. You are comforted. Stepping out of that comfort zone is scary. Challenging. Frightening. And the best thing that can happen to you.
When you are living abroad, you don’t mind trying new things. And that is healthy – us humans have to be open to new things, it’s good for us. That’s how you learn things in life. I wrote a list of all the things I learned during my time as an expat, and I probably didn’t write it all, but the list is long. And it is only getting longer. Not just language or culture-wise, but also personally. If you are an expat, I suggest you to do the same. It is mind-opening to see how much you’ve learned during a period.
So don’t be afraid. Go after your dreams. Step out of your comfort zone. Whatever your dream or aspiration in life is: go for it. Because the world is big and there is a lot to discover. I hope you have a clearer image about the life of an expat and what my experiences are.