Living Abroad

As my birthday draws near, it suddenly dawned on me that yesterday marked our one year since my Husband and I decided to embark on our journey abroad, and pack up our stuff and moved to Singapore.

And this got me thinking.. living abroad – the expatriate life and what it’s been thus far.

We always dreamt about it, talked about it, but when the opportunity presented itself we braced ourselves to take this journey. After all, it was Singapore, a Commercial hub, English being an official language in Asia, and so transient to discover other parts of South East Asia. You would be amazed at all the new challenges, discovering even sides of yourself you didn’t know existed, appreciating all the the ‘obvious’ luxuries we took for granted back home, and you also become amazed at yourself and the World that there is to discover.

living-abrad-laotsu-quote

 

Your horizons broaden, you adapt, immerse with the culture, you learn, get homesick, and shape your memories which you will treasure forever. If you have ever lived abroad, then I am sure you can relate to some of these points below;

1. Adrenalin becomes part of your life.
From the moment you decide to move abroad, you get turmoiled with mixed feelings of emotions – learning, improvising, dealing with the unexpected… All your senses sharpen, and for a while the word “routine” is dismissed from your vocabulary to make space for the adrenalin thrill ride of every new findings. New places, new habits, new challenges, new people. Starting anew is terrifying, but in a good way.

2. You slowly realize that courage is overrated.
Lots of people will tell you how brave you are – that they would also consider moving abroad if only.. (enter whatever excuse it may be) – but in actuality it is fear of risk and change. And even though you are scared, you come to realize that courage makes up about 10% of life-changing decisions. The other 90% is purely about wanting it with all your heart. Do you want to do it? Do you really feel like doing it? Then go for it. From the moment we decide to take action, it is not because we were cowards nor courageous – whatever comes our way, we learn to deal with it.

 

living-abroad-whitton-quote

3. And just like that, you become free.
Mind you, we have always been free, but freedom feels different now. Now that you have given up every means of ‘comfort’ and made it work thousands of miles away from home… you feel like you are capable of anything!

4. You learn to let things go… and make the most of it.
As scary as this may sound, you soon realize, most things and people in your life are passing through. You perfect the right balance between bonding and letting go – a perpetual battle between nostalgia and pragmatism.

5. You have two of everything.
Two SIM cards (one of them packed with phone numbers from all over the world), two IDs, two wallets, two bank accounts, and two types of coins – which mysteriously end up in your coin purse when you are about to pay for something.

6. Normal? Define normal for me.
Like traveling, living abroad makes you realize that ‘normal’ only means what is socially or culturally accepted by the majority. When you immerse yourself into a different culture and society, your notion of normality soon falls apart. You learn that there are other ways of doing things, and after a while, you embrace them. You also get to know yourself a little better, and what were just a cultural ‘norm’ from the society in which you were raised in may not always be the ‘norm’ elsewhere.

7. You become a Tourist.
You know the saying “easier to visit afar than your own backyard.” And most often times when you meet or speak to locals they have been everywhere but roll their eyes when it comes to their own Country’s major attractions. Those Tourist traps that locals avoid, well, your list of ‘places to-go’ will only grow, and in soon time you become quite the expert of your City.

8. Time is measured in moments.
On one side, it is that feeling when you are looking through a car window from the backseat, everything moves a bit slower from a far distance, and yet, when you are sitting at the front wheel, things pass by at full speed. This is how it feels whenever you receive news from home; the birthdays, celebrations, births, deaths, those special moments missed.. meanwhile life where you are, is going by at high speed. Time has never been so distorted until now, so you learn how to measure time into moments, Skyping with family and friends back home, or happy hour with your new found friends.

9. Nostalgia strikes when you least expect it.
A food, a song, a smell. The smallest thing can overwhelm you with homesickness. You miss those little things you never thought that you would miss, and you would give anything to be in that moment, even if it were just for a split second. So share it with someone that will understand you and reminisce.

10. You change.
I am sure you have heard about life-changing trips. Well, they are not a commonplace – living abroad is a trip that will profoundly change your life and who you are. It will shake up your roots, your certainties and your fears. Living in Singapore has certainly changed my Husband and I, in forever many ways, and if it was not for this experience, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today. Maybe this won’t be something everyone can relate to, or even believe before you actually try for yourself. But if you have, or plan to do, you will see and can relate to this post then.
living-abroad-roosevelt-quote

When you live abroad, the simplest task can become a huge challenge. Processing paperwork, finding the right word, knowing which bus to take. There will always moments of distress, but you will soon grow and learn to be more patient than you ever knew you had in you, and accept that asking for help is not only inevitable, but a very healthy habit.

And from the moment you squeeze your life into a suitcase, whatever you thought ‘home’ was doesn’t exist anymore. You realize nothing else matters but sincerity (no matter the distance you quickly learn who is and is not all talk). Almost anything can be replaceable – wherever you travel, you will end up buying new things to make it feel like ‘home’ again. But there will come a time when you realize home is how you want to define it and not the brick and mortar house in which you live in. Home is the person traveling with you, the people you leave behind, the street where your life took and takes place. Home are your memories, all those long-distance calls with your family and friends, those perfect Kodak moments stored in your SD cards and phones. Home is where the heart is.

living-abroad-home-heart

 

Now that you know what it means to give up comfort, what starting from scratch and marveling at the world every day feels like. I leave you with this; the World is an endless journey to discovery. There are those perfectly content in their comfort zone, and then there are those who live to learn.

Whatever your journey may be, learn to enjoy it.

Thanks for reading!

———————–

For the week of November 27th, IFB rounded up the best of their 20 links for the ‘feel good reads’ while you lay around the house waiting for turkey celebrating Thanksgiving, and msyolee.com was selected alongside these talented Bloggers. I invite you to check them out as we can never have enough of inspiration!

IFB Links à la Mode:

 

Thank You IFB for your selection and including me as part of this week’s round-up. Some of my personal favourites are highlighted in red <3

Thanks everyone for your support!

Yvette xo

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  • sostyling_sg

    what a great article! definitely helps locals like me see the perspective of a foreigner. wish all foreigners were grateful as you, most act too snobby and rude!

    • thank you, as a foreigner I can also identify those ‘rude’ kins alike. But can’t win them all, I guess :)

  • great post! we loved reading it and making us want to travel so bad! but it is definitely true, I think traveling makes you more open-minded. xoxo

    • thank you so much @lafashcurator:disqus :)

  • chaeyoncé

    this really hit home for me. I just wanted to say thanks for writing your thoughts from your own experience. This was personal because I am going through some rough patches for myself at the moment. Hence my MIA-ness on IG and such. I love the analogy of the car seat and breaking time into moments. Anyways this is so good. xx

    • I hope your are doing better now @chaeyonc:disqus and I am glad that it was relatable. It is comments like yours that encourage me to continue what I do, so thank you so much for reading. x

  • with love,michellexoxo

    Yvette, I absolutely loved this post from you. I can relate, as you already know. Love your blog, it’s always so well written with such great content. I can definitely learn a thing or two from you!

    • thanks so much babe @withlovemichellexoxo:disqus I’m so thankful to have met such a cool chic like you! It’s so cool how we met and our story makes our bond that much closer and special! :)

  • SoSashaxo

    although I havent lived abroad, what I can most def relate to is the fact that traveling broadens your horizons and makes you less ignorant, though I can’t speak for all…….. but for the most part. every time I find myself visiting a new country I wonder at all the possibilities that are out there. As every experience is different and unique. but it definitely takes courage to move abroad. nobody just does it on a whim, and it’s because we fear the risk and change to your point. I thought about it at some point in my life, but never went along with it because I feared all the ‘what-ifs’ and now I have some regrets but I travel more to make up for it. this is probably the most sincerest you have seen me from all my previous comments LOL! but this one was a good one. xo

    • thanks girl @sosashafierce:disqus I agree traveling definitely opens your mind to new cultures and ways. And it definitely makes you wonder what more the World has to offer! :) haha and I miss your gif posts! too funny!

  • Olivia DW.

    this is so inspiring! I love this post and enjoyed reading it thoroughly. this definitely inspires me to pursue some trips I have been long awaiting to do! lol but it’s really well expressed. xx

  • fancydaint

    this is seriously giving me wanderlust in a major way!! xx

    • lol traveling always gives me the butterflies :)

  • Lauren Goodman

    I think that you’re onto something. this is definitely something that I can relate to and it’s making me reflect the journeys I have come to-date. It’s a wonderful piece

    • thanks @laurengoodman:disqus i knew that some of you could totally relate :) glad that you enjoyed it! x

  • fashion2themax

    imo, you dont necessarily have to live abroad or travel to be more open minded and all the stuff you pointed out. some have personal struggles and financial difficulties to be living lavish lifestyles.

    • chaeyoncé

      er… your very comment goes to show your narrowminded-ness. and just because you decide to move abroad or travel doesn’t mean you live lavish lifestyles. quite the contrary, some people actually decide to move in hopes to have a better lifestyle and opportunities.

      • fashion2themax

        ok, didnt expect such a defensive response. sorry if I offended you, but you need to relax. I was just saying that based on what I reading. I just got the impression that it was all too positive and not enough realism. But your point on people moving for better lifestyles is the obvious. Who wants to move to another country that is in worse condition? lol

        • chaeyoncé

          it’s fine. I took it to heart because I leaped for the same journey leaving my hometown to start a new chapter. I don’t live lavishly, and I think maybe you need to read it again. What’s wrong with pointing out the positives? There are points to say that there are struggles and stresses but all apart of the growing and experience. your take is very bitter.
          there are also plenty of selfless people that move to far less developed countries to help as well. anyways I think this discussion is pointless because you just missed the whole point entirely. go travel, go see the world and what is out there. You certainly won’t be as bitter as you are now.

          • GraceNg

            you know there are some people, even if they travel, who won’t get it. but hopefully they will because it’s just sad to read their initial comment to begin with.

    • GraceNg

      Quite the opposite deary, look at all our ancestors who immigrate to a new land for opportunities. this is no different and it’s a shame that you have to see it in such a negative light. IMHO, I think traveling and living abroad only broadens your mind even more than what we are used to, and your comment is proof of that.

    • A very good point. Just to be clear though, there were no mentions of living any sort of lavish lifestyles, period. I was pointing out the hardships but despite of it all that the good weighs out the bad and how it changes you for the good. I don’t expect everyone to agree or relate, but am thankful for you to be sharing your thoughts, so thanks :)

      • Diva JJ

        well said! such grace and pc ;)

  • tianna

    sounds like a lovely way to live :)

    • thanks @disqus_oVBJMKFTNH:disqus lovely & challenging :) it’s got both the ups and downs too

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  • dothedewS

    what a great post! i love it babe! it’s so true and you expressed it beautifully. bravo! xx

  • Diva JJ

    I really enjoyed reading this babe! Traveling really does broaden your mind, despite what other may think. And those quotes go well with the images.

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