Whatever stage of life we are at when we decide to move from the United States, however well-traveled we are, and whatever our reasons for going, the experience is going to broaden our horizons. Seeing new places, experiencing another culture, and adapting to different surroundings and ways of doing things gives us a new sense of perspective on the world, our friends and family back in the States, and ourselves.
Spotting the differences
Another gratifying aspect of living outside the United States is gaining a new perspective on our own country and culture. Some things are the same, some things are similar but maybe quirkier, while others seem completely alien. Some things are different and better, others different and worse. It doesn't normally take long to find some other expats to share these experiences with, and happy hours can be wiled away comparing notes.
Reacting to the unexpected and overcoming unforeseen difficulties lends us a sense of youthful exuberance. There's something about everything being new that brings out the adventurer in us. To learn about and adapt to a new world, we must dust off our inner courage, become more adaptable and open to trying new things, solve problems in real time, and always be ready to go with the flow. In short, we unearth the characteristics of our youth. We see the extraordinary in the trivial again, and learn more about ourselves on route.
Learning another language
If you've moved to Canada or Britain this is less likely to be the case (Cree, or Welsh, anyone?), however while you can get by superficially with English in many countries, once you are settling down for a longer spell, many people decide to get to grips with the lingo. The benefits are clear, that you gain a deeper understanding of where you are, can get to know people better, and learn and appreciate the subtleties of the local culture. It may take time, it may not be easy, but it will open doors and unlock a wealth of new and fascinating experiences.
Meeting new people
Moving outside the US, we meet a variety of new people. Our lives become enriched by them in unexpected ways, seeing the world differently through the eyes of people who have grown up with different influences and values. At first we may need them more than they us, then as time goes by our new relationships become more balanced, as we become able to give more back. With other expats, you have something important in common that you wouldn't have back home, simply that you are from somewhere else. Soon you find what else you have in common, and true, new friendships are born!
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