Another level of experience
Leaving to earn a living outside your home country is a difficult decision to make. Whether it’s because you landed a job offer, you’re following a dream or just want a simple change of scenery, the realities of moving and living abroad are often bittersweet.
It takes a good deal of courage, determination, and strength of mind to leave everything you’ve grown to love and cherish for a long time. Everything from preparing your travel documents, packing your luggage, and finally saying goodbye can be a struggle.
Whatever your reasons are or wherever it is you’re going, here are the top 7 bittersweet realities of working/living abroad.
1. New-found Freedom
Working or living abroad will help you experience a new-found freedom. A sense of being able to do and go as you please, the freedom to explore new places and make new choices can be overwhelming. If you’ve never had the chance to be yourself back home, being overseas will help you be who you want to be without worrying about what other people will think of you. It’s a wonderful feeling you’d only know when you experience it yourself.
2. Time Flies By
When you’re abroad, your concept of time changes. Life back home goes by so fast and the next thing you know, your kid, your niece or your nephew, even your parents and your siblings are already a year or two older. You miss being part of their lives as you struggle to make sense of yours in your new environment. This can make your personal relationships stronger or fizzle out. However hard it is, the fact that life goes on for the people you left behind is something you have to learn to accept.
3. Meeting New Friends and Leaving Old Ones Behind
While you meet new friends, it is also inevitable that you lose old ones. As you spend more time trying to get to know people from your new workplace, your new neighborhood, or perhaps your new school, some of the relationships you’ve built back home begin to decay. “Out of sight, out of mind” is definitely a bittersweet reality you’d have to embrace as you begin your life abroad.
Unless you’re moving to an English speaking country, learning a new language is a necessity if you want to be able to communicate with the locals. Imagine how amusing it would be for your co-workers to talk to you in the native tongue and then hear you reply to them in the same language. You can also explore the area with confidence if you can read and understand what the signs are saying. More importantly, you can haggle for lower prices during your weekend shopping spree without letting vendors take advantage of your inability to speak the language.
5. New Stories To Tell
The stories you experience and pick up during your stint overseas will help shape your own personal adventure. Your co-workers will no doubt have new and interesting stories to tell, most of which will definitely help you learn a thing or two about their background. The majority of these stories would lend an amusing insight of your new life when shared with family and friends back home. Truly, spreading your wings take on a new meaning when you’re living or working abroad.
Perhaps the single, most difficult part of living and working away from home is when homesickness sets in. You may have read stories of people not finishing their employment contracts abroad simply because it has become too much to bear and this does happen. At the end of the day, the question is, how important is this experience and opportunity for you? Are you going to allow yourself to feel homesick and just throw everything away? It’s a good idea to remember that home will always be there and you can return anytime. If you feel your time abroad is up then it may be the right time to return to your motherland but think about the opportunities you may be giving up overseas before doing so.
7. Personal and Professional Growth
Being in a place that’s thousands of miles away from your home can make you grow up fast. With no one but yourself to rely on, you have to step up and face the challenges of living and working abroad. No more parents to help cook meals, do your laundry, or wake you up in the morning – either you do things on your own or you end up finding yourself on a flight back home.
You also need to adapt to working with people from different cultures, work ethics and attitudes that may be very different from your own or you’ll find things difficult at work. The sooner you accept the fact that you need to speed up your personal and professional growth, the better your chances of moving up the corporate ladder.
The good thing is you don’t have to do everything in a day. Start slow, test the waters and see how far it’ll take you. Sure, you’ll start alone, but you will meet new friends down the road and when you do, working and living abroad isn’t as hard as you first thought it would be. Save yourself the trouble and don’t panic because when you think about it, you only have two options, sink or swim, fight or flight. The choices you make will decide the kind of future you have abroad so make sure you plan and make decisions carefully. Good luck!
This article was posted in Work Abroad by jobsDB on January 22, 2014.