10 Reasons Why You Should Live Abroad

10 Reasons Why You Should Live Abroad

We became an ex-pat family nearly two years ago. I still vividly remember how terrified I was at the thought of uprooting all we knew, leaving two children behind, and boarding a plane into the unknown halfway around the world.  Read my inaugural blog,  ’tis Christmas Day to see just how emotional that time was. To say we were all a wreck is an understatement.

IMG_6626
How would I live without seeing these goofballs all the time?

 

Yesterday I wrote about The Dark Side of Living Abroad. Things to think about when considering a move abroad. It is not a choice to be made lightly. Everything you know will change. You will be uprooted from all the comforts of your life. But for us, this change has been positive. Sure, we have had ups and downs along the way but I don’t think any of us would be willing to give up the experience we have had living as ex-pats. I am now a firm believer in the idea that everyone should live abroad at some point in their life, and these are the reasons why.

Your world gets bigger

Before we moved abroad, we didn’t even own passports. The United States was our home base, and we didn’t have much desire to leave. Now that we have moved to China we have been to 10+ countries and have seen so many amazing sights. I continue to be in awe of the beauty and diversity of the world. My understanding of differing cultures has broadened 100 fold. My kids have been exposed to so many different aspects of ways to live that their entire view of life has been expanded. It makes us see how blessed we are by seeing how many people throughout the world live without even the basics we take for granted.

Your world gets smaller

I can’t tell you how many people I have met who live close to our house back home, or whose children went to the same school as my older kids. When talking to one friend, she began describing her house back home. The more she told me, the more I thought it sounded familiar. Come to find out she lived on the same street as my son’s girlfriend. What are the chances? It is nice to be so far away and be able to talk to people about things (or even places) back home with a common familiarity. It brings comfort and helps ease a bit of the homesickness that can come from time to time when you realize it’s not such a big world after all.

Adaptability

Possibly the most significant change that comes with moving abroad is the necessity to become adaptable. Life is never settled. It is next to impossible to fall into a rut or a routine. Schedules are always changing, travel is frequent, and there is constant adaptation to your new culture. I was a very structured person before we left The States. I thrive on schedules and predictability. Learning to be more flexible was challenging, but I am so thankful to have embraced that skill. For the most part, things don’t tend to bother me like they used to. I can “roll with it” more which makes life more easy-going.

Growth

Besides adaptability, I consider the most significant changes have been made in my confidence and faith. I have had to go out and navigate a world in which I am entirely unfamiliar. The language, way of life, and customs are different. This takes guts. In addition, my faith has jumped by leaps and bounds. I have to rely on God to get me through each day, keep us all healthy, and keep those back at home safe. Your God is bound to become bigger when you move overseas.

Accessibility

There are now so many ways to keep in touch with loved ones and friends back home. I can’t imagine moving overseas when the only method of communication was through a letter or phone call. The age of social media has broadened the avenues of keeping in touch. Facebook, email, texting, WeChat, Instagram, etc. We can share our lives with others at the touch of a button. I can see my kids through video chat, so it doesn’t feel like such a long time since we have been “together.” These options make it easy to stay connected and not feel so far away.

IMG_BF9983EE385E-1
A recent group chat with Autumn after she cut her finger and ended up in the ER

 

Quality time

One of my biggest worries about leaving my children, family, and friends behind was that I would never see them. However, for the most part, I was wrong. Our first summer here our kids were able to come visit. Hunter, our oldest son, came for two months and Autumn, our oldest and only daughter came with her husband Jackson for one month. It was awesome! We traveled and spent time together without the distractions of being at home. We didn’t have to share the kids with anyone. Not work, school, in-laws. No one. We got them all to ourselves, and it was so special. Since then, Hunter and Autumn have come back, my mom has come to visit, as well as friends and we have experienced the same one-on-one time with each of them.

Schools

Our boys attend a fantastic (and very expensive) American school here in Shanghai. We would have never been able to afford such a prestigious education for them at home. I know not everyone will have the same luxury when moving abroad but we have been so grateful for the stellar educational opportunity that has been given to them. We even asked to extend our assignment in order for our high schooler to graduate here.IMG_7801

Independent children

As a result of our move, all of our children have had to grow and adapt very quickly. Autumn and Hunter had to learn how to truly live life on their own. We moved to Shanghai a few months after dropping Hunter off as a Freshman in college. How’s that for a quick introduction into a life of independence? But you know what? They have impressed me so much with their ability to handle all life has to throw at them. Elijah, our oldest here, went to Abu Dhabi on a school trip last year. He was in charge of his passport, luggage, checking himself in at the airport, and shared a hotel room with a fellow classmate. I would never have imagined even sending him to the next town overnight when we lived at home.

IMG_1729
Elijah is in there somewhere!

 

Friendships

It’s true when you live overseas your friends become your family. We rely on each other heavily and “do life” together way more than at home. We need each other for support and tend to form fast friendships that last a lifetime. Many people who repatriate have a tough time trying to create friendships like those they experienced while living abroad, only to find people too busy and independent to foster that kind of a close bond.

IMG_1700
goofball Tai-Tai’s
IMG_2330
jumping for joy over an awesome workout!

Travel

All of us have developed the “Travel Bug”. My husband, Brett, and I joke that we need to get all of our traveling out of our system now because when we return home, we will once again be on a tight budget with little extra for trips. So we have taken full advantage and as a result, have seen so many incredible things. Follow our travels through photographs here. I remember when we were planning our first trip as ex-pats Brett said we should go to Thailand. I laughed and told him no thank you, that I had no interest in going there. Well, we did end up going to Thailand, and it was absolutely breathtaking. If we didn’t live where we do we would most likely never journey to this side of the world. And let me tell you, this side of the world is pretty incredible.

IMG_8292
Koh Samui, Thailand

 

If you are given a chance to live abroad, I say take it. It will change your life by allowing you the opportunity to grow in ways you never thought possible. Our entire family, both at home and abroad have become more close and richer with new experiences we would have never had if we stayed at home and lived our lives as we had before. So stop worrying. Take a leap of faith and go experience all the world has to offer!

If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.

Rachel Wolchin

4 Replies to “10 Reasons Why You Should Live Abroad”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: