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Moving to Another Country: What I Have Learned in 6 Months (Part II)

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Lifeguard house - Sunset at the beach
Well, there were a lot of things I could have talked about in my last post, so I've decided to divide this post in two parts. Here is a bit more what I've learned during my first six months of living overseas. 
  1. You’ll never get this season of life back. You’ll never be in this stage of life in this place again, so enjoy it. I had to learn to enjoy the season of being the new kid on the block and adventuring around my new home, and I’ll have to learn to enjoy the bittersweet season of saying goodbye again when it comes. Life is always changing, and sometimes it changes so fast that you won’t see it coming.
  2. The people who love you will love you despite the distance. I was so scared to go back home to visit for the first time. I didn’t know whether people would still consider me a friend, or if they would have moved on. There had been births, marriages, and graduations since I left. Life had gone on- would I still be a part of it? As soon as my family picked me up at the airport, all my fears dissolved. My family spoiled me all week. My phone was buzzing nonstop with invitations to dinner or movies or hikes. I didn’t even have time to do it all! Of course, maintaining those relationships takes a lot of work. In my opinion, you do have to take responsibility for maintaining relationships, in a way; after all, you’re the one who changed the dynamics by moving. I’ve been intentional about making time for video chat, phone calls, and writing updates and letters. I think that when they see you haven’t moved out of their life, just out of their town, most people will reciprocate the effort to bridge the miles.
  3. Stuff is just stuff. When you move overseas, you can’t usually bring much with you. I was something of a packrat when I was a kid, and that was something I had to let go of when I moved. My husband and I sold, gave, or tossed almost everything we owned and boarded the plane with two suitcases and a carry-on each. It was an odd feeling to have my entire life condensed into a few boxes into my parents’ garage, two suitcases, and a couple of expandable file folders, but it was also a freeing feeling. Stuff is just stuff, and when you stop being afraid to lose it, you feel a lot more free to live the life you dream about.

    Old photos in a box

  4. Money is just money. This one is a little less simple, because unlike Auntie’s old cookbooks or a collection of mugs, you really can’t live without it. However, I’ve developed a new attitude towards money that has been helpful to coping with our lifestyle. I’ve learned that money isn’t security, and it’s not an end in itself. It’s a means to procuring the things you need and sometimes the things you want. I’ve learned to understand the difference between “need” and “want” and generally only spend on things I need. Yet I don’t get as upset as I used to about spending a lot on things like rent, because that’s just how much it costs to live here, and we have to live here, and that’s that.
  5. I love my home. To be honest, I was never too excited about where I lived or even the country I lived in. It was just my way of life, and I didn’t think about it much. Now that I’m gone, I find that I’m a lot more excited about being from Phoenix. There are things about Phoenix that are really awesome! There are things about the U.S. that are awesome, too, and oddly, I think I’m more patriotic since I left. I went with a group of other Americans to a Caribbean Coast Guard event a few months ago. I think having a place to be homesick for makes you appreciate that place more.
  6. There’s so much to see in the world. The more I travel, the more I realise that the world is a very big place! I’ve heard people say, “Once you see one Caribbean island, you’ve seen them all.” I can tell you that’s not true in the least. I’ve been to three different islands so far, and all three of them are entirely distinct in their culture, their landscape, and their vibe. You would have to spend decades exploring before you could truly say you know the Caribbean. And that’s only one tiny corner of the world! There is so much out there to explore, learn, and love. So pack your bags and get going to the next new place!

 

Click here to read part I

 




Breana is an American expat living in the Dutch Caribbean. Graphic Designer and writer from sunny Arizona, she has travelled around the Caribbean, Mexico, Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya and most of the U.S. You can also follow Breana and her adventures together with her husband, at 3rdculturewife.com.