What is expat life about? What are the obstacles that I will encounter? How do I find new friends? Can I get used to the new culture? These are all questions that are part of life as an expat. All things that I wondered about when we moved abroad in 2017. With very small steps and many challenges on our way, we have become accustomed to life as expats. It is not an easy road that you travel but we have really come to love this life. It has changed our lives enormously but also ourselves. We are not the same person anymore as when we left.
You can only grow by stepping outside your comfort and that is certainly what we have done. I would love to help you with your adventure abroad by sharing our experiences. Only by sharing this, we can help you. You’ll still have to do it yourself, but these tips will certainly help you during your adventure. It will be a wonderful journey for sure, so try to enjoy it.
I can tell you that moving abroad isn’t easy and comes with lots of difficult challenges, but it is the most wonderful adventure we ever had in life. Along our journey, we experienced different emotions like missing family, loneliness, and anxiety. We had to deal with a totally different culture and had to learn a new language.
When this all comes together you will experience a pretty tough challenge in your life. When you do this as a family you also have it times 4 or 5 depends on how big your family is. A possitive thing is that you are all in this together.
By talking and sharing your thoughts and feelings you can help each other. You will experience that this will result in a warm and special family bond. Especially during the first months in another country you will be together and do things together as a family so often.
The fact that we could only talk to each other in our own language made that we shared everything with each other and that we grew so close without really noticing it.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
We were lucky to be able to explore a new country and to learn from another culture. Expat life is so much more than just moving to another country for work for a few years.
It is about stepping out of your comfort zone and letting you grow as a person. We are discovering who we really are and what we are truly capable of. This all gives us a new vision of life.
Are you still in that phase of doubt and orientation I can only encourage you? I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy, it’s definitely not a long holiday. You will have to be there for your family and a lot will be asked of you, but you get so much in return.
Prepare as best you can by reading a lot and try to find families who live or have lived as expats in the country you are going to. Contact them and ask them everything you want to know. They will be very happy to help you and answer all your questions. After all, they were once in the same situation as you are now.
Take this first step out of your comfort zone, it is such an incredibly beautiful experience that you will only grow through and that counts for your whole family.
Expat life is about Loneliness
In the first months of our life as expats, we were very busy unpacking and organizing our new home. Discovering the neighborhood in which we lived. We had to get used to the weather, the food, and the differences of this new culture. And as soon as we all found our way, loneliness hit me. I missed family, friends, but especially a conversation with someone who knows and understands you well. Who knows how to comfort you or who can make you happy with a few words just because they have known you for so long.
Accept these feelings of loneliness and connect with people through work, school, or take a cultural class like cooking class, dance class, language class. Be open to new friendships. New friends will certainly be able to take away some of your loneliness. We can tell you from our own experience that everything gets better in time. You will find new friends and it all start to feel like home a little bit more in your home country.
For more tips to fight loneliness, you can also check this blog post.
Expat Life is about Family
As an expat you start in a new country where you usually don’t know anyone yet. If you end up somewhere with your family, you are mainly dependent on each other. You spend all your free time together. You discover everything together and support each other during challenging moments. The family bond will become very close.
You share so many different emotions with each other. During daily life but also on the trips together to explore your new country. We would definitely advise you to go outside as soon as possible and get to know your new country better. By immersing yourself in the new culture, it will be much easier to adapt to it.
After a few months, social life will slowly return. You meet new people, and the children will have their first parties and dates with friends. This is good, and it should be like this. It is great to be able to experience an adventure like this together as a family.
Expat Life is about Exploring
Bert had traveled to Taiwan several years for work before we started this expat life. He fell in love with the country and convinced us to move to Taiwan for several years. We left everything behind and followed his leads to the other side of the world.
The differences between The Netherlands and Taiwan couldn’t be more significant. It took us a while to get used to this hot and humid weather, but it didn’t stop us from going out and exploring the country. We started with our neighborhood, found lovely parks to relax, nice restaurants, and supermarkets for our groceries. After a few weeks, we expand this area, and after four years, we are still amazed by the diversity that Taiwan has to offer.
We lived our ordinary life during the weeks, and on the weekends, we felt like tourists exploring a new country. Although every expat knows that this life isn’t a holiday. It often involves long working days and many extra hours because just that little bit extra is expected of you.
Expat Life is about Traveling
We try to go on a home leave trip to visit family at least once a year, mainly during the summer or Christmas holiday. During the other school holidays and long weekends, we use to travel to the countries around Taiwan. Living on this side of the world allows us to discover Asia without long flights. This is a precious opportunity that comes with life as an Expat.
Even now, during the pandemic, we try to travel as much as possible in Taiwan. It’s nice that we can support tourism and explore the less popular locations in Taiwan. You will find more information about all the places we visited during our years in Taiwan on this website.
Expat Life is about Culture
I don’t think we were ever so aware of the many different cultures worldwide, especially not that they can make such a difference in life. We heard about culture shocks and knew that it was about rituals different from those in your home country.
Now that we have lived in Taiwan and experienced such a culture shock, I can say that different cultures interest me very much. It is so helpful to delve into and learn more about the culture of the country you live in. It helps you to understand their way of life and their rituals better.
Because our children go to an international school, they also have to deal with the different cultures of their classmates. We often talk with the children and discuss the different customs and rituals of people from the countries that we live together with. We also look up the history and the traditions that belong to the various holidays celebrated here.
All this knowledge will undoubtedly help you and ensure that you will feel at home in your new country sooner. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the significant differences between your culture and the country you are going to. That will certainly help you communicate and arrange the important things at the beginning of your stay.
Expat Life is about Emotions
Let me start by saying that we really enjoy life as Expats. But it was and still is not always easy to live in another country where everyone speaks a language you do not understand and where you end up in a completely different culture.
This way of life brings a lot of emotions with it. Positive and negative emotions, and sometimes we cannot even explain what we feel. Some days give us the feeling of the perfect life, and we believe we experience the ultimate happiness, but there are also days when we are fed up and moody. To deal with these emotions, we sometimes have to admit that we aren’t the happiest and that it’s okay.
We are glad that we have the opportunity to skype with the home front nowadays. That makes the lack of family around you a lot easier. We are happy with our expat life, and as long as we don’t bottle up our emotions but just accept them, we just take them for granted.
Expat Life is about New friends
Another lovely benefit to expat life is all the new friends and new people you meet on your way. These contacts are essential not to feel lonely and make your life in another country more accessible. Therefore, go out to meet these people. Go to sports clubs, take cooking classes or language courses. If you have children, go to the activities at school where parents are invited for.
If you end up in a country where you do not speak the language and communication is more complicated, try searching Facebook for communities of expats or foreigners in your country. You can often find information about everyday things in these groups. You can also find information about the festivities organized by foreigners and where these groups come together. Making contact there is very easy because you have a lot in common.
Show initiative in this, even if you have to step out of your comfort zone. You can be so proud of yourself afterward, and taking the initiative contributes to the fact that you will feel more at home in your new country of residence.
Expat life is an Adventure
Life as an Expat is a real adventure. A unique way of freedom. We accept this new lifestyle with many new emotions and mood swings. We stepped out of our comfort zone and amazed ourselves again and again. I did not know that we were capable of so much. It feels like an addiction, the urge for new adventures and new challenges.
We can only encourage everyone who still has doubts about life abroad. A new world has opened up for us, and we wish this experience for everyone. Make plans and follow your dreams. Take action now; it may take you to the other side of the world very soon.
I hope these experiences about our expat life help you adapt a little bit easier to your new country and your new life abroad. If you want to ask me any questions, feel free to reach out to me. I will do my very best to help you. Sometimes, it helps to get through some tough times if you talk to people who experienced the same. I’m here for you and love to connect.