Before Tony, my husband, and I became expats we would sit in front of the TV and watch other families move abroad. Our favorite show was called House Hunters International and featured a different story each episode. You’ve probably heard me talk about this before ha!
Sometimes the people moved for work. Others simply for a change in life. But either way, their lives took a major turn and across the borders they headed!
We would watch in awe how these people did it. Left all that was familiar to enter a world unknown. And we wondered, could we ever do the same thing? It seemed totally crazy…but also kind of fascinating!
It was the kind of dream that we couldn’t “unsee”, if you know what I mean.
That was two and a half years ago and as I sit here in a cafe writing this piece, my zip code reflects Sant Gervasi, Spain – no longer New Jersey. Yes, we took the plunge and decided the expat life WAS in fact for us! Some days, I’m still in shock that we’re actually here.
No, we didn’t have all the answers back then. We still don’t have them all today! And we still face different challenges every day living in Europe. But even someone that DOES have all the answers to a big life change like this mioght not necessarily be ready for it.
So what was it that pushed us to keep moving forward with the belief that we COULD thrive in our life as expts? I guess a few factors about the kinds of people Tony and I were ultimately gave us the confidence and belief that we could do it!
So, what about you my friend? What kind of person are you and what makes you tick? Could the expat life be for you?
In addition to taking the quiz below Should I Move Abroad?, here are some qualities you can measure yourself up against. If these sound familiar and like the types of personality traits that resemble you, the expat life could be a good fit!
You Welcome New Challenges
Remember that TV show I mentioned earlier? Well, what I forgot to say is that every episode ends with the happy family selecting a home in their new city. As if THAT is the hardest part about living abroad!
Pffff (spitting laughing!)
What the show DOESN’T film are the family’s hurdles after arriving in their new city. This is when the true test of grit happens.
Challenges and overcoming them is just part of everyday life when you’re an expat. And if you aren’t the kind of person that can handle spilled milk or a hangnail, you may want to rethink moving abroad.
Language barriers, public transportation, cultural divides and more will challenge you over and over again. The love you have for living overseas needs to be stronger than the more frustrating moments you experience along the way.
You’re a “Glass Half Full” Kind of Person
To keep building upon the whole “attitude” thing, being a positive or negative person won’t automatically qualify one to become an expat. But man, does a “glass half full” mentality make a big difference in everyday life.
Even the most optimistic person will have moments living abroad where they just feel like throwing their hands up! And in order to crawl out of that pessimistic funk, you’ll need to have an attitude that focuses on all of the incredible reasons you chose this adventure.
Sure, it’s easy to complain about what’s NOT going right. But venting should be a temporary thing – otherwise it spreads like a virus. Soon your family and friends abroad will all be picking up on your pity party. And no one likes to be around a “downer”.
Someone with a positive attitude will wake up each morning and say, “Hey Barcelona (or other city name here), what cha got for me today?!”
You Don’t Embarass Easily
Okay, some of you might laugh at this one while others will be frightened by it. The bottom line is, as a foreigner living in a country you aren’t familiar with, you’re bound to have loads of embarrassing moments.
Like what you ask? Stumbling over the local language, maybe! Like the time I was in Sephora and asked for mantequilla (butter) instead of maquillaje (makeup) haha! I still get teased over that by some Catalan friends.
How about bigger situations? Like the time I exited the city bus with my youngest child in a stroller, lost my footing and smacked my head on the sidewalk. The bus driver pulled over, turned off the engine, everyone got off and an ambulance came. I mean, talk about embarrassing!
Luckily at the time, I didn’t care.
But if you’re someone that gets easily flustered making mistakes or stumbling through a new process, being an expat may just rock your world! Your best bet is to expect these situations to happen and just laugh through them. Hey, life is about the journey and not always the destination right?
You Consider Yourself to be Patient
This is such a tough one for me and something I’ve tried to work on since living abroad. Where we come from in the Northeast of the U.S., people tend to be very fast-paced and overscheduled. We talk fast, we walk fast, we even eat fast!
By stark comparison, people in Spain where we currently live as expats are incredibly slowwwwwww. Little sense of urgency, never appear to be stressed and kind of poke fun at people like me racing around the streets like crazed lunatic.
You’ll need to have patience for certain lengthy processes. For example, waiting for your visas, passports. That sh*t can take an eternity! And in everyday life – waiting for your bus/train to arrive, waiting online at the grocery store when no one else seems to mind the line of 40 people and one cashier! Waiting for food/drinks at a restaurant when the culture frowns upon the concept of fast food.
Patience is a virtue. And one that I unfortunately don’t posses. Does that mean the expat life isn’t for me? Of course not! But to have patience really does come in handy when living abroad, especially if you plan to move to a country where things are much more tranquil and calm.
So…you love traveling the world and meeting new people – but still aren’t sure if you actually could handle a move abroad? Take the quiz above to find out for sure. I hope you get the answer your little heart desires!