Why Expats Move Abroad
We all have it at one point. That little voice in our heads that started out as a raspy whisper saying, “Just move. You can do it.” Some of us immediately accepted it and moved abroad. Others let that nagging voice grow into a roaring, “JUST MOVE ALREADY. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO. DO IT. DO IT. JUST DO IT.” And so, we did.
In the grand Expat World, we all have our specific reasons for leaving our home countries. I cannot say with certainty that these reasons are applicable to everyone. I can say with positivity that the following are reasons that my fellow expat friends and I have in common. One way or another, these five reasons pushed us to throw our lives into some suitcases (how some of you people only used a backpack, I will never know) and leave everything we knew for anything new.
1. Complacency Isn’t in Our Vocabulary
I have some friends who have never had a passport. Some have never left their hometowns. Others married their high school sweethearts and bought a home close to mom and dad. Many have lived in the same city their whole lives and could not imagine living anywhere else. For these people, those are their dreams, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, for an expat, that seems like a nightmare. We cannot fathom staying in one place consistently forever, surrounded by familiarity and comfort. We crave change – we desire inconsistency. Moving abroad helped us step out of the “typical routine” and create our own, crazy life that revolves around one concept: avoiding the same ol,’ same ol’ norm.
2. Obviously, Travel
Duh. We don’t just talk the talk; we walk the walk! Seriously, don’t just talk about, “oh, maybe one day it would be really cool to see Paris and explore the French streets and food scene.” We are about that travel life! We will buy that ticket, by any means necessary, and go. It isn’t in our nature to make those it’ll never actually happen plans. Travel is that one craving we can never satiate. We want to see, experience, live, and enjoy it all. Honestly, who doesn’t? Lots of people want to see the world and feel the wanderlust fever. What’s the difference between them and us? We will get up, do it in a heartbeat, and have no fear or regrets about it. It’s like Saint Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” And we are damn determined to get through that whole library.
3. Opportunities That Just Don’t Exist at Home
No one wants to read me ramble on about the specifics here, so let’s just do this in list form, shall we?
- Foodie experiences
- Language immersion
- Friends from different parts of the globe
- Fresh baguettes (this is a personal one that is not applicable to all, my bad)
- Significantly cheaper education programs
- Cultural exposure
- Certain sporting events
- Architectural views
- Lit Instagram stories (again, a personal one)
The list really continues on, but I’m trying to keep this a reader-friendly post and not crush you with too much at once.
4. Inner Peace, Discovery, and More Spiritual Things
Now, there is a certain kind of growth that happens when you move abroad. You leave everything you know, lose all sense of having a “comfort zone,” don’t know anyone or anywhere in your new place, and somehow need to manage to survive. It’s the biggest spiritual journey you’ll ever take. You have no choice but to find out who you are and what makes you at peace when you’re in a situation like that. I learn that back home, many external things made me happy, but abroad? I had to learn all the internal things that could make me happy, and that is a huge life lesson. Out here, you’re dependent on you and no one else. You really can’t rely on a certain person, a specific place, or any familiarity because it doesn’t exist when you first move abroad. And to sit and build all these things from scratch shapes that inner you in ways non-expats can never understand.
5. Freedom To Be Us
This encompasses so much. Sometimes back home, I felt I had to mold to societal norms. I would meet someone for the first time and quickly be asked, “So, what do you do?” and the pressure of fitting into whatever social group immediately overtook me. There was so much focus on a person’s educational degree, financial status, living situation, and social ranking, that sometimes a sense of who you are feels like it doesn’t even matter. But, while you’re abroad? It feels as if all those weights simply are lifted off your shoulders. When people meet an immigrant (because let’s face it, that’s what we are), they are more interested in your story rather than your social ranking. I will tell you right now, that is the most liberating feeling I have ever had.
As I mentioned before, there are many other reasons why the expat community ends up wherever they are, but these are the most common reasons I’ve found amongst my fellow expats here. We needed to change, see the world, seize opportunities, discover ourselves, and just be free. Without moving abroad, we would have never grown into the people we are today. We could never even imagine what life would have been like had we not taken the leap.