Living life as an expat sure sounds exciting when you’re first embarking on that journey, but it can come with its own set of unique challenges you definitely won’t find in your home country. Even so, there will come that day where you suddenly realize that not only are you living your expat life to the fullest, you’re totally rocking it! What are some of the signs that you’re totally winning at being an expat? Let’s take a look…
- Hearing a foreign language on a daily basis no longer sounds so foreign.
Yes, this even applies when you live in a primarily English-speaking country! Early on in your expat experience, you were probably very aware of the language or accent differences. But the longer you spent overseas, the more natural it became to hear things that you don’t always understand. It can be the jumbled Scottish accent, or rapid-fire Cantonese. That moment when you’re hanging out on the subway, hear someone chatting away in a language you don’t understand, and go ‘meh’, is the day you’ve finally become an official expat.
- Food isn’t as weird as you first thought.
There’s some places where grasshoppers are a staple (here’s looking at you, Oaxaca) or fried cockroaches are occasionally consumed (cough, cough, Bangkok). When you first move to a new country there will always be at least one staple dish that you find completely bizarre. Until you try it. And discover it’s a taste you might actually be able to acquire. Then it dawns on you that back home you used to eat some pretty weird crap and maybe this food isn’t all that strange after all. You’ve officially advanced to a whole new level of expat, my friend.
- It becomes impossible to exoticize another culture or country.
When you live long term in a foreign country, you see the good and bad of that culture. In my opinion, this is a good thing because it removes the temptation to exoticize traditions. As you learn more about the new world you live in, you come to respect the nuances that make the culture what it is. Stereotypes go by the wayside and you become a more open-minded person. Just a day in the life of an expat!
- You know home is where the heart is.
You’re not a true expat until you’ve felt that strange sense of displacement. There are usually a few years where you’ll have sense of limbo; where you realize ‘home’ doesn’t necessarily have to be the place you were born or grew up in. It’s a really special moment when you learn that only YOU can determine where your home is. Wherever your heart feels at peace is where you belong—whether it’s a few miles down the road or on the other side of the world. Grasp this, and you’ll fulfil your destiny as a true expat.
- Fear isn’t something you’ve got time for.
Moving to a completely new place can be terrifying, whether it’s your first time or your fiftieth. But if there’s one thing being an expat teaches you, it’s that you don’t have time for fear. Getting lost in translation, or simply lost, are intimidating ideas, but as an expat you’ve got to suck it up and put yourself out there because you simply don’t have any other choice. It may be hard to believe now, but there will be a day where you’ll move to a new city and land on your feet from day one. If you’re already fearlessly navigating your way through a slew of new norms, languages, foods, and the like, then you have morphed into an official expat!
When was the first time you realized you were officially an expat? Share your experience!