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.

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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.

 

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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.
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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.

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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!

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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!

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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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