“Progress is impossible without change” – George Bernard Shaw
The idea of living abroad always seemed fancy and fascinating to me when I was a kid. I always dreamt of flying and seeing things foreign and beautiful. During my childhood, I would get excited when my NRI relatives visit us in India and bring fancy gifts and chocolates. The wires of my brain were so fixed that foreign land is no less than a paradise. Over time, when I started traveling abroad for short and leisure trips, this perception began to haze out. This whole idea of living abroad stopped amusing me because nothing beats the vast and colorful culture of our homeland, “India.” But life always has different plans.
I’ve been living in San Francisco, California, for a few years now, and I’m not a foreign citizen. While living abroad takes so much away from you, it also benefits you in so many ways. It is not less than a privilege, and not many people get to experience it. At the start of your journey, you don’t realize how fantastic or tough it will be. You only think about moving to a new place and how you’re going to feel. But, the real picture comes into play when you start living in a new place, especially in a new country. While moving abroad goes parallel with learning new things, it also changes your perspective about life. Despite adjusting with the cultural shock, it also teaches you many lessons you never learned before. You’re not going to be the same person you were back at home.
New People, New Connections
By living in one country for half of your life, you subconsciously become self-obsessed in your beliefs and your set of friends. But, when you move to a new country, you expose yourself to a new place, to new and diverse mindsets. And, everybody has a story and an experience to share. However, it might not be possible that you get along with everyone, but it pushes you to communicate with new people without prejudice. When you connect with them, you learn about their culture, and eventually, you end up empathizing with their stories.
24x 7 Challenges
Leaving behind your family and friends can never be easy; it takes courage to move abroad in the first place. The challenges start from the very beginning when you decide to move and go on till forever. From renting a house to getting groceries to running daily errands to managing the office. You are all on your own. However, it can turn out to be quite beneficial as you become more aware of the smallest of things.
You Start to Appreciate Home
No matter how fancy “living Abroad” may seem, there is nothing like the warmth of India, our people, our colorful culture. You’re going to miss the celebration, the joy, the festivities, the happiness infused in the streets of India especially during festivals. The Halloween glees cannot beat the five-day celebration and festivities during Diwali in India. You can have all the luxuries of your life while staying abroad, but you probably won’t get to feel the warmth. The fun of having golgappas at a street hawker cannot match with the mundanity of having hash brown in a fine-dine restaurant.
You Discover Yourself
As cliché as it sounds, it is true. You are never going to spend as much time alone as you do when you live abroad. While living abroad brings so much independence, it paves a path for you to unfold your true self. You connect with yourself in a profound manner, which further expands your mental horizons. You learn to deal with things on your own, which ultimately teaches you a lot. You face the most difficult times of your life alone while living abroad, but you eventually come out stronger and develop a wiser & clearer sense of self.
The concept of personal space varies in different countries. While most of the population in the east gives less importance to personal space and privacy, the people in the west are highly respectful of privacy & personal space. It is considered “rude” here to call an employee if he/she is on holiday or even after office hours. While you learn to respect each other’s personal space when you stay abroad, you equally miss the gossip sessions since there are no “Pados-Wali Aunties” to intrude into your lives.
New Perspective of the Whole World
Living abroad changes your complete outlook towards life. The change in pace and change in the quality of life brings so much change in your mindset. You become more accepting of different people and cultures and ultimately realize that people around the world are the same. No matter what prejudice you had of the world before you moved, you will become a different person with a changed outlook. Living in a different country unfolds your true self, and you will gain a different perspective of the world altogether.
I was set on a journey to see things beautiful and fancy but on the way, I discovered myself.
Living abroad has made me embraced one culture while belonging to another.
About the Author – Mansi Mehta
Born and raised in Delhi, Mansi currently lives in San Francisco.She is fueled by her passion for understanding the nuances of cross-cultural public relations and marketing. She considers herself a ‘forever learner’ and is always keen on learning new ways to work on ordinary things.