So next year I will most likely be embarking on my new life as an English teacher in Asia. I’m actually no stranger to the expat life. When I was growing up, my Dad’s line of work meant that we moved around a lot as a family. We lived in Oman, Brazil and Canada and when I was 20 I actually lived in Spain for a year on my own.
It’s been a long time since I lived in Spain and have gotten quite used to life in the UK and so I know it will be a struggle moving to another country again
It’s a bit different when you’re a kid and you’re with your family as your parents deal with everything and you therefore tend to take a lot of things for granted but living solo in Spain for a year as an adult really taught me a lot. When I first moved there I didn’t actually have anywhere to live and so I just went around the city and found adverts for flats for rent posted on lampposts and just called up these random people from pay phones to arrange viewings! This was when I was 20 years old! I look back now and think that was a slightly reckless way to go about finding accommodation but luckily it all worked out well.
People always think that if you’re from Europe and move to another country in Europe it’s not that big of a culture shock…but it really is. The way of life is totally different and it takes a while to become accustomed. Even things which seem really small, like the fact that Spaniards tend to have dinner at 10pm rather than 7pm, can be a huge shock to the system! I also remember trying to get a phone installed in my flat and being so frustrated at the laid-back, “mañana” approach in Spain. Every time I tried to get it sorted I would always be told that it was going to be done tomorrow!
It’s been a long long time since I lived in Spain and have gotten quite used to life in the UK and so I know it will be a struggle moving to another country again. There’s the language barrier issue; (although I did actually speak a little Spanish when I moved to Spain which helped) I currently have no knowledge whatsoever of Mandarin aside from the odd (badly pronounced) word! The distance is also a worry and flight prices to and from Asia are expensive. In Spain I knew that if I got really homesick I could just buy a cheap flight back to London for the weekend. Moving to Asia means that this will not be a feasible possibility. Then there’s also the issue of ‘looking like a foreigner’ and therefore not ever really fitting it. I was blonde when I lived in Spain and so the locals immediately knew I wasn’t Spanish!
Living abroad taught me that you do just handle whatever gets thrown at you
However, living abroad taught me that you do tend to just get on with things and handle whatever gets thrown at you because you just have to. Yes, it’s scary and yes, homesickness is a real and difficult challenge but I found that you bond with people in a way you don’t in any other situation and I’m looking forward to the new people I will meet as I start this new adventure in my life.