Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Why expat life beats being a tourist

It’s a situation that’s familiar to many – you’re on holiday, it’s a warm summers evening; perhaps you’re relaxing with friends and a glass of wine, and someone makes a joke about how wonderful it would be to live abroad. Maybe that’s the reason that you’re an expat now?  

There’s no question that being a tourist can often sow the seed for becoming an expat. But we think there are lots of reasons why expat life has the edge – here’s why!

1.  You feel more settled
Visiting somewhere new for a holiday or mini break is fantastic – but often short-lived. You might feel that it’s too fleeting, over quickly and inadequate for breaking down cultural barriers. As an expat, it can be a completely different story. Although it can sometimes take some time for you to get to grips with a new way of life, you’ll soon find that places become more familiar and with this comes a sense of feeling settled and even (dare we say!) at home. Gathering a greater understanding of the local culture and etiquette is nearly always a plus –especially in more conservative or religious countries where customs can seem vastly different to what you’re used to.

2.  It’s an education
While it might be bandied around a lot, the saying ‘every day is a school day’ is never truer than when you’re living an expat life. As a tourist, it’s easy to fall into the trap of taking the easy route – perhaps you book an all-inclusive holiday, take a coach transfer that’s organised by your airline and stay within the confines of the resort. When you’re living abroad, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to fall back on the same safety net – but we think that’s a good thing! Not every experience will be easy, but there’s no question that it will be learning. As every expat will tell you, making a few mistakes is part and parcel of life abroad. And, no matter how embarrassing the situation at the time, you’ll eventually you’ll realise that there’s a funny side to every faux pas!

3.  You’re ‘one of them’
Sometimes when you’re visiting a new place you can feel on the edge of what’s going on. Although it’s not unusual to feel a similar way at the start of expat life, spending time learning about your new surroundings and how best to get the most from the experience will serve you well and help you to feel like a local. We think the true indicators are when you find yourself using the phrase ‘I know this great little place’. There also may be no better feeling than being asked for directions by another expat or visitor – although this may only be true if you’re actually able to help…! 

4. Be a tourist as an expat
Living in a different part of the world means that you’re open to a whole new set of travel possibilities – and destinations that you might have deemed too far to travel before may not be out of reach now. When it comes to making the most of things, planning is key: see what’s feasible to do in a weekend, three days or even explore taking a few weeks off to trek around and explore. The world  is your oyster…!

1 comment:

  1. I am an Australian expat living in Tuscany. I work for a British Food Shop in Viareggio. When in Australia visiting new cultures is harder than when I'm here. When we decide to go on holiday and experience a new cultures all I do is get in my car and drive to Prague or something, and it ends up being an amazing experience. I completely agree with you when you say,
    "When you’re living abroad, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to fall back on the same safety net – but we think that’s a good thing!"
    Thanks for posting, it's nice to know I'm not alone.


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