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Moving abroad is can be an exciting experience, giving you the opportunity to live in a different culture, and learn more about yourself as a person. Apart from the adventure of being in a new place, living in a foreign country gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself and gain in-depth knowledge about the people, culture, food, and lifestyle that you won’t get while traveling on vacation.
Having lived in South Korea for over three years, and taking the opportunity to explore the country during my time away from work was fabulous. The weekends were set aside for visiting temples, strategically getting lost and finding my way around the city, meeting other expatriates, and traveling to nearby countries. It also gave me an opportunity to expand and grow by learning more about myself. Everything was new and thrilling when first arriving in South Korea. The smells, scenery, people, and the way things were done, were all part of my new journey, which I will always cherish and remember.
Although living in a foreign country gives you a front row seat to a new culture, which can be very exhilarating, it can also present challenges. The biggest challenge in living abroad is often communication. It is very frustrating if you do not speak the language and you aren’t able to connect on simple things. Simplicity can easily be loss in translation resulting in misunderstandings, potentially making life extremely difficult. This is something to really think about when moving to a foreign country. As a traveler, you most likely will be in a country for a short amount of time. Therefore, your challenges will be brief and adjustable. However, when you live in a country, the excitement and shininess can often fade quickly as you create routines and begin to call that place home.
I honestly enjoyed living abroad, but if there is any bit of advice to offer, before you move abroad you may want to think about your personal ability to adapt to new things and situations. Remember, you are not going on an extended vacation. You are moving to a foreign country and things are going to have its challenges, even if you speak the language and have done all the research in the world. You can almost assure there will be some challenges, but most things worth experiencing or having, come with its own set of challenges. That does not mean moving is not for you, it just means that you need to be clear that you are really ready to move instead of taking an extended vacation.
Cha is the founder and director of Expat Women of Color which is a 501C3 organization that helps connect who desire live, work, study and/or travel abroad with other women with similar interest. She is also a life and expat coach where she focuses on helping people create the life they want abroad. You can contact and learn more about Cha through her personal website www.chajones.com or through her blog www.thenomadicchick.com.
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