When an expat friend recently remained stubborn on a point I saw as dead-set ridiculous and at odds with the reality of life and business in the US, I had to throw up my hands.
‘Haven’t you learned this by now?!?!’ screamed my inner monologue.
But maybe he hadn’t.
People are not the same, our experiences are not the same. The lessons I’ve learned living overseas and in trying to adapt to new surroundings are not going to be exactly the same as next expat. We all find some things easier to cope with than others, and we encounter different things at different times. And we all get stuck on some of the most insignificant things! It was unfair of me to expect he’d already experienced this and thus expect the same of him as I did of myself.
This conversation inspired a piece published at Ustralian (the hub for all things Aussie in the United States) about adjusting to life as an expat. It’s about embracing the change, about consciously opening yourself up to the new experiences, even when your first instinct is to close up like a clam.
Adjusting takes longer than you think.
For those who aren’t living the expat life, the closest thing I’ve found to explaining some of the oddities is by watching House Hunters International. People moving overseas check out three apartments/houses for rent or sale in their new town, and choose one of them. You see these people fixate on some of the smallest things — like one bloke who couldn’t handle showing over the toilet in a miniature bathroom in Hong Kong, or the American housewife who couldn’t handle the fact Norwegian kitchens didn’t come with in-sink garbage disposal. If you find this show a little exasperating, then you’ve got the idea of what life is like as an expat: a little trying at times, but ultimately a different (and rewarding) experience.