Recently I’ve seen this post from Thought Catalog making its round on social media and it inspires me to write my own ’10 things’ about living abroad. Some of them may be similar or even the same as the ones mentioned in the article, but here goes:
I’ve been living abroad for 8 years now, starting from 3 years in Malaysia for university, 1 year in China for language school, (coming back to Jakarta for 1.5 year afterwards), and close to 4 years in Singapore at the moment.
To me, living abroad have given me invaluable experiences which I will never get from living in my hometown alone.
1. Being independent
One of the first things most people will think when they first found out that you are living abroad is you are independent. I won’t say it’s necessarily true for everyone, but I do think of it that way. When you are far away from home, from your family, friends, and loved ones, you have no choice but to buckle and toughen up! This is especially true if you have no friends or relatives in the new country you are going to. Being alone in the sea of strangers can be quite intimidating sometimes, but there’s some fun to it! 😀
You’ll also need to do everything on your own, including house chores. Ha! Not everyone is used to do cleaning up back home, but when you are abroad, you gotta do it! Otherwise, good luck with all those dust and mites at the corners of your room.
Yeap, I won’t deny that living abroad gives me the freedom I need. I love Singapore for its safety and super convenient public transportation, unlike Jakarta where I can’t go anywhere without a car or hailing a cab. This really helps when I’m out and about.
That’s just one kind of freedom though. The more important point here is that, having the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want it is very liberating, and it helps to shape you as an individual because although you have the freedom, you have to bear the responsibilities that come with it. You have to make decisions on your own to justify what you are doing.
From my observation, people who have lived abroad tend to be mature a little bit quicker than those who don’t. Maybe because they are somehow ‘forced’ to grow up. Please note: I’m not underestimating those who have not lived abroad before. This is just my own observation.
I guess it relates back to #1 – Being independent. As you learn to be independent, you grow.
Not everyday is a bed of roses. I admit there were times I felt kinda lonely as if I have no one. There was a period of time where I was surrounded by friends and colleagues and yet, I felt so alone. But I gotta put a disclaimer here: I haven’t felt lonely for the past 11 months. All thanks to AmoreDio! 🙂
But being alone sometimes allows you to think of things you wouldn’t otherwise. It gives you time to reflect on things and sometimes, being alone do help to put your mind to rest and just… relax.
Of course! Living abroad is exciting (okay, maybe the excitement may wear off after a couple of years or so, depending on the individual), with everything going on around you, new things, new places to discover, and just… new everything!
Yes, it IS exciting. One thing to keep the excitement alive is to regularly find something new to do. For me, it’s finding a new place to dine at, a new bakery or patisserie, or just simply finding something interesting in places I’ve visit hundreds of times. 😀
6. Financial planning
Tell me about it! When you are living on your own, moreover when you are abroad, financial planning becomes something crucial that you gotta do. From managing your daily expenses to savings/investment, everything has to be calculated properly. On my first few months in Malaysia, I jot down every expenses I’ve made and I tracked how much I spent each month (okay, it was more like my mum asked me to do it. Lol). I don’t do it anymore though (too lazy!), but I sure know how it’s like surviving with just 2 digits in your bank account when your pay day is 2 weeks away.
7. Farewells and goodbyes
One of the things I dreaded the most is farewell. I enjoy making new friends but I dreaded it so much when it’s time for us to part ways. This was especially true when I was about to leave Beijing. I still remember it quite vividly. A few weeks prior to my departure, I had to say goodbyes to my close friends there and it was not a pretty sight filled with tears. On the morning of my departure (and a few other friends as well), a big bunch of friends sent us off at the school front yard and it was not a happy thing to do 😦 To this moment, I am still missing each and every one of my ex-classmates and have only managed to met up with a few of them. Looking forward to the day we could have a reunion in Beijing or somewhere!
8. Awesome stories to tell your kids and grandchildren
“You know kids, there was once I went for a Japanese all-you-can-eat with my friends and one of the Japs in the group ordered this thing called yamaimo…”
“What does it look like, grandma?”
“Well, if you’ve ever looked at your own phlegm, that’s exactly how it looks like.”
9. Realising that holidays with family that you rather took for granted before are precious moments you really look forward to
Because you don’t see them everyday anymore now.
10. Making international friends
This, I’d say, is one of the most awesome perks of living abroad!! Never in my life have I thought of having friends from Reunion Island, Italy, Japan, Thailand, etc.! And thanks to social media, our distance is nearer than ever 😀