How much is that tropical Dream Life overseas?? Living in Another Country isn't Easy
Tips For Living Abroad
Almost everyone dreams of escaping their mundane lives. It doesn't matter where in the world you live, it seems like the opposite of what you have is somehow that bit better. People in the UK dream of hot sunny beaches, cheaper prices, a golden tan and friendly people. Yet, people in many of these 'tropical paradises' are dreaming of being whiter, having better salaries, no mosquitoes and living in a cooler climate.
So, my question is; How much is that tropical dream worth to you?
When you move to a new country, often one of the biggest things that you give up is your support network. Many people always use income or savings as an excuse for not 'taking the plunge', but frequently it actually boils down to the sacrifice of giving up friends and family to make the move.
In the midst of things, it sometimes may not seem like this is a major issue, but trust me, if you didn't consider this before moving, then after a few months away you will quickly realize how much having the right friends can affect your life for the better. This is then amplified when we let go of the comforts taken for granted in the western world, such as policing, social security and free medical care. This is not to say that there are no solutions to these issues, but just that you should be aware of how landing in a new country can often feel like floating free in an uncertain and confusingly beautiful sea.
However, once you sink your feet into the warm sand and find your land-legs again, things will get easier ... so long as you can accept differences! It amazes me how many people move to an incredible, complex and intriguing new culture, only to then find themselves constantly comparing it to what they have left behind, or complaining about how different it is. Make your mind up for gods sake! Did you really want to stay where you were!? If you move, you should not expect life to be the same in any way, shape, or form. Life in any country has its 'quirks', but in a tropical country, expect these quirks to be far more pronounced. I'm not sure why it is, but the tropical climate tends to bring out extremes in people. Sometimes this is very good and sometimes not so good ... but, for sure, it is never boring.
Now, for living, I would recommend being very careful about who you trust. Unfortunately, I was used to trusting people (within reason), but when I traveled, I quickly learned this is not a good idea. Often people living or traveling abroad will do and act in ways that they would never do back home. The move is a 'clean sheet', no-one knows them and so they can hide behind any mask they choose. However, so long as you are aware of this, you can meet some amazing and interesting people, building up trust slowly. After all, how much do your really need to trust an average friend. Nevertheless, this mix of culture, attitudes, histories and travel can be intoxicating! For me, this is one of the reasons I love to drift abroad ... the people around you are so interesting and when you need to trust someone, you just remember to be careful about it.
Once you start to settle, life will get easier and you will build up your own little local support network. All the little niggly things, like how to order some food, or finding where to buy drinking water, will become a thing of the past. If you are lucky (or, through trying to learn the local language), you will accept the locals and be accepted by them, becoming a part of the community. This is when you will discover an entirely different side to life in the paradise you have chosen. It is often a side most travellers miss, an experience even many ex-pats miss (choosing to hang only with English speakers, in small communities), but it is something that can make your dream far more of a reality! Being absorbed into and accepted by a foreign community is a wonderful feeling.
From my experience, the tropical weather seems to help make people warmer and more generous. That is not to sat that cold weather inspire coldness, but that warm weather brings a social and communal twist to daily life that colder weather puts on ice for months on end each year. This difference is open air social events, coffee shops spilling onto the streets, markets, food stalls along roadside, people having a drink in the sun and offering drinks to passers by ... a warm and wonderful mix of hot air, warm smiles and occasionally an ice cold beer.
So, if your are willing to take the plunge and struggle for a few months (up to a year) to settle, then I would say that it is definitely a good value experience. Just be prepared and prepare your partner or family first! Knowing that things WILL improve is the key to surviving the start.
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