Sitting on a plane, all five of us are as ready as we can be for a new expat adventure. We’ve just checked in seven suitcases and three boxes. Everything that’s really important like shoes, clothes, some cutlery and a couple of pans – husband J. even got to choose some things too – and they all apparently fit into those ten pieces of luggage. Why do you need a 40-foot container when you can survive more than three months with just this, I wonder.
A new Expat adventure
Ah well, a 10-hour day flight with three kids doesn’t leave too much time to lean back and reflect. When we depart the youngest pees on the floor, I knock over my coffee, which I continuously forget and thus step into with the only pair of socks I’ve brought. The kids won’t sleep and after landing the plane taxies exactly long enough for my eldest daughter to vomit. She is the only one we didn’t bring spare clothes for, because she never spills anything. Upon arrival the time difference kicks in. It’s suppertime; people are eating whoppers, socializing and busy as bees, whereas for us it is 2 am. When we learn that the connecting flight to our final destination is delayed, I just want to cry.
WHY do we move?
Why are we doing this? Once upon a time we left the Netherlands for a splendid job opportunity in South Africa. We lived there for three years and now have just left to move to the USA for – you’ve got it – another fabulous job opportunity. Being in the midst of momentary post-arrival misery I can’t think of any good reason for ME to move though.
So why on earth would you become the partner of an expat? Well, there are a few reasons and I would like to share my ‘top five’ with you.
Five reasons to become the partner of an expat
1. Ever wanted to make a career switch? Now is the time. Discover what you really like to do, what you’re really good at and just go for it. It’s a bumpy road and you have to be disciplined and stay focused. BUT, if you find out what makes you really happy, you can be exactly that anywhere.
2. The periodic shifts in location mark significant periods in time with your partner and family. Going through life-changing events (such as moving, good-byes, finding new schools and making new friends) brings you close together and makes you stronger than ever.
3. You can explore countries thoroughly. Living in a country is a totally different experience from simply visiting it. You will discover places only locals know of and get a chance to integrate with people of other cultural backgrounds, with different customs and habits, all of which is eye-opening.
4. Being Dutch has always been a perfect excuse to me. ‘Sorry, I’m very direct, it’s because I’m Dutch.’ As an expat, however, that attitude will get you nowhere. With integrating comes adapting. Of course you will still be you, but the new perspectives and insights you gain will definitely change you. And in my experience, that’s been a positive thing.
5. Last but not least: Life’s a journey unless you make it an adventure. The same goes for the expat life. You can sit back, and only look, or you can make the most of it by really, truly integrating and exploring your new life.
Out the Box
Being an expat means you effectively live out of a box for several months almost every third year. The possibility of truly living the ‘out of the box life’ makes it an adventure. You will have the opportunity to discover what you really like to do, make new friends, integrate and explore. Do that and it will be life-changing. Really.
This was a Guest Blog for Magontheblog.com on March 25th