Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Is expat life glamorous?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Expat life definitely looks glamorous when you see photos of expats doing fun and exciting things, visiting exotic places youíve dreamed of, and eating foods that you havenít yet tasted. But, itís not really the case. We might be exposed to many new and interesting things, but the expat life itself is not exactly glamorous. Living overseas adds many other challenges that we wouldnít have if we were living in our native homelands and it can be quite challenging at times.

I liken the expat life to that of a famous actor or singer. We see pictures of them all dressed up, in fabulous shape, and looking so happy. It seems as if their life is truly a dream. But what we donít see is all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. We donít see them making sacrifices, spending long hours working, or dealing with the many difficulties that arise.

Being an expat is similar in that how it looks on the outside isnít exactly what it is like for each one of us. Even though I have been an expat for many years, I still face some challenges too on a regular basis. I encounter situations in which I have to remember to be patient, to accept things as they are, and to focus on only the positive.

The expat life is not some imaginary life. It is real life with many added challenges, like navigating yourself in a foreign language, taking part in different customs, and understanding a culture that might clash with your own. There is a lot of adjusting you have to do in your life to find your balance.

No matter how challenging living overseas can be at times, it is incredibly rewarding. You find out what you are made of, who you are, and what you want out of life. Iím sure living anywhere would allow you these rewards, but when you live overseas you question much more where you came from, what you think of the world around you, and what is ďrightĒ or ďwrongĒ for you. When you live overseas, you are forced to pick and choose everything that you include into your life. You canít rely on what is already there because when you arrive, nothing is there.

I honestly hope that all those who want to be an expat will have the opportunity to do so. The expat life might look glamorous, and it can be, but it is certainly not an extended vacation where you just sit back and enjoy. It is challenging because you have to let go of everything you know, the person you believe to be, and your family and loved ones, and then you must rebuild your entire life from the ground up. Itís a unique experience that is glamorous in that you create a place for yourself in this world where you can continue to evolve and grow.

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