Last week I celebrated two years of living in Ireland. If you had told me two years ago what a journey I would have to go through to get here… would I do it all over again? I would like to think that I would, but that is my stubborn nature – if you tell me how hard something is going to be, I almost always push past to see for myself. But that is the thing about moving countries, you think because so many other people are doing it – that it will somehow be an easy thing to do. I can’t tell you how many people email me daily asking me how we did it, and how they can make the same move. Moving overseas is something you should try experience at least once in your life, here are my reasons why.
Slight deviation off topic, but if you are new to my blog, a quick intro – we moved from South Africa to Ireland at the end of 2016. No, we did not move because we were fleeing our beloved country, or that we were worried for our safety back home, or that we thought Ireland would be ‘better’ for us. We moved because we are still young, and without kids, looking to travel and see the world. We thought Ireland would give us that adventure. The truth is – Ireland gave us a bit more than we bargained for. For starters, we had no idea the bureaucracy and paperwork and stress that it would take to move over and live and work here in Ireland. This is why I started blogging about it. Not a lot of info is out there about how complicated the process can be – so this is my little piece of the interwebs where I share the real story – and the truth is moving overseas can be hard but there are so many more reasons why you should experience living overseas once, than there are to not try it.
Becoming an expat will change you. In more ways than you ever dreamed, moving to a new country will open up your eyes to new horizons. Thousands of people move to new countries all the time, but equally there are many people who would love to move but simply cannot. Having the opportunity to live in a foreign country should be seen as the privilege that it is. This expat journey is a ride that you should try to experience at least once in your life. Simply travelling to a new place will not give you the same insights, as living in a new country will do. When you go on holiday abroad, the town you are exploring always shines its best features. Even if you don’t enjoy visiting a new place, you know that it is not forever so you never truly learn how to live through the tough moments in a new place.
When we decided to move to Ireland, we were adamant that we would not play the comparison game. The truth is Ireland and South Africa are similar in some ways, but vastly different in others – the two countries should not be compared. What living in Ireland as an expat has taught us, is that home will always be South Africa. We might not live there right now, but our hearts will always be in South Africa. Living as an expat will hopefully make you appreciate home. You will find yourself missing the simple things back home, like smells and feelings that you can’t quite put your finger on. That feeling of home just never leaves you; it might be a memory of how life was when you fitted in and knew how to work the system. How easy life was back home and that you didn’t quite appreciate how simple things like opening a bank account, going to work, driving to work really was.
As much as you try to fit into a new way of life in a new country, you will always be a foreigner in your surroundings. Living as an expat can be a lonely road to walk, especially in the beginning, when you are trying to figure out everything. This process of living overseas, it will make you stronger. You will learn more about yourself through this process, because it will push you out of your comfort zone. Making friends, learning new ways of working, small cultural differences, large amounts of paperwork and waiting in line for applications to be processed will teach you patience. It will teach you empathy for what other people from other countries and cultures must feel when they are in a new country too.
I actually think we have had it easier than most of the other expats arriving in Ireland. We at least have moved as English speaking, white immigrants to a country that is predominantly white and English speaking. Being an expat has taught me such empathy for people who don’t fit that mould. How hard and challenging it must be coming to a country where you are noticeably different from the norm brings about a whole new set of challenges I can only imagine. This process of living overseas will teach you confidence and resilience in face of those great challenges.
So there you have it, these are some of the reasons why I think you should try and experience living overseas at least once in your life. But perhaps the greatest reason you should live overseas, is that living overseas will change you. In some shape or form, you will experience a better appreciation for the life that you have. You will go on a journey through uncharted waters that you will never be able to plan for or predict. You will have no idea what lies ahead of you, and that adventure makes a life truly worth living – because it will teach you more about yourself than you can imagine.
ARE YOU AN EXPAT? WHAT ARE THE REASONS YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD EXPERIENCE LIVING OVERSEAS?
Live Simply & Travel Slow,
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