Oh my gosh! You live abroad! It must be so exciting. You’re so adventurous. Life must be so fun…all the time!
These are typical of comments I hear from people in response to learning about our chosen lifestyle. Living abroad is pretty awesome. I will scream that to the rooftops! I love the natural learning that comes with it. Figuring out new ways of being and interacting are challenging in an amazing way. The opportunity it provides for children…I can go on about it all day.
Here’s the thing. Living abroad is amazing in so many ways but in so many ways it’s the same as living at home. I think this is the part of living abroad that many people don’t realize. Heck, I didn’t realize it. In fact, this has hit me in the last few weeks. I actually had the thought, “I feel just like I did back home” a few times. I suppose I expected to never feel those same feelings. The reality is, thinking that is quite silly when I think about it. Here’s why.
The Mundane is Still the Mundane
Ha! What a way to put it! Here’s what I mean. You still have to go grocery shopping, do laundry, clean the house, and any other errands that you have in your life. This doesn’t change because you moved abroad. Now don’t get me wrong! It may definitely look different. Instead of heading to Kroger or Costco in my car, I now walk to a little fruit stand in the market and I walk to another little market to get certain spices. While the look is different, and may actually be more fun, I’m still grocery shopping. I think my biggest excitement around grocery shopping in Mexico is converting what I spent into dollars. It never fails to amaze and excite me!
What I’ve Learned
Staying aware and present keeps me enjoying the “magicalness” of grocery shopping here. Being sincerely grateful for someone else washing, drying and folding my laundry (for less than $7) keeps me in a happy place as I walk to the lavendaria. Appreciating the “regular tasks” while living abroad really is about staying present, humble and in a state of gratitude.
People are People Everywhere You Go
It doesn’t matter where you go, people are going to be people. People bring their same mess with them. People bring their amazingness with them. It doesn’t change because you moved abroad. In fact, it could be worse. Only the nuts think to ditch it all and move abroad, right? <<wink wink>> Seriously, people have baggage, including you, and that baggage doesn’t introduce itself at first meeting. Such dynamics can create amazing friendships and not so amazing umm…things…
Someone told me once, “Our [living abroad] journey is interesting because you tend to befriend people that you wouldn’t befriend at home. You do this because you’re all thrust into a similar experience but it doesn’t mean you’re similar people. What I’ve learned is everyone isn’t going to be for me. I’ve learned to really not take that personally.” See, you can use this same advice even if you never go abroad, can’t you?
What I’ve Learned
You definitely want to get to know people when living abroad! My goodness it would be lonely without doing that. But your discernment, intuition, gut or whatever you like to call it becomes super, duper, incredibly critical. Don’t just use it but trust it and follow it.
Be intentional with those you do vibe and feel safe with. Don’t let “get togethers” be happenstance. Just like in the States, it’s not going to happen that way.
Be honest about who you are. People are going to like you or they aren’t. Period. Done deal. Wouldn’t you rather people like you for exactly who you are then someone else you’re pretending to be? I would. Just sayin’.
It Becomes Comfortable…Eventually
The thought of moving abroad can rile up so much fear and anxiety because so much is unknown. You wonder how you will get basic things like gas, internet and a locked door with a key. (If you missed my breakdown about getting these things when I first moved, check out this post.) It all feels so overwhelming and frustrating. You feel like nothing is done in the same manner and the processes are complicated. You may feel like you will never understand how to get around or feel comfortable riding in a taxi around town.
Trust me when I tell you, it will all become as comfortable to you as you felt when living at home. It just takes time. We have a major tunnel system, here, in Guanajuato. I’m talking old school, cobble-stone, Harry Potter-esk tunnels. They connect in a maze-like way, underground. When we first got here, I hated going in the tunnels because I never knew if the taxis were taking me where I wanted to go. I would get so turned around in regards to the direction in which we were going. It was awful and I thought I’d never figure it out! Now, I’m no pro but I definitely have a better idea of which turns to take in the tunnels to go certain places. I know if the taxis are going the right way. It’s honestly not even a concern of mine anymore. It’s become comfortable.
What I’ve Learned
It takes time but it will all become known to you. You won’t feel like a fish out of water, forever. In fact, you’ll soon learn to manage your new home like the people from there. And you’ll be proud of yourself because you’ll remember how you first felt when you moved there.
Be easy on yourself. Give yourself the time you need. Accept the hard days in the beginning and just know, deep in your heart, it really will get better.
Living abroad is such an amazing journey that has so many amazing moments and experiences. At the same time, there are many things that are the same as home. So while I do, occasionally have the thought, “I feel like I’m back home”, I now realize it’s not a bad thing. It means I’ve grown so much because I’ve come through all the discomfort, learned the nuances of Mexico and have journeyed into the comfortable.
If you’re considering moving abroad and are overwhelmed by the thought of how to do it, check out my course, Moving Abroad Made Simple! It may be exactly what you need.
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