I’ve talked about the struggles of someone my age residing abroad to earn a living in my recent post. In the couple of days that passed after the publication and after reading the comments and emails I received, I felt that I also have to discuss (especially for the benefit of those who have plans to go overseas) the joys of being outside my mother country. Just like anything in this world, being abroad gets its fair share of sweetness and bitterness. Truly, every cloud has a silver lining.
1. You learn more about yourself. Even during the first week of living abroad, believe me when I say that you don’t only discover new things about your new country of residence. More importantly, you unravel more details about yourself that sometimes you never knew existed. It may be because abroad you are sometimes tested to your limits by being tossed in extremes of situations that require you to be independent and solely liable for yourself that causes one’s suppressed attitudes, abilities and/or values to surface. Back home, you get the jitters when you speak to foreigners but then later on, you learn that you enjoy conversing with them and that you are actually good with small talk. Before, you hated the idea of going out solo but have learned and mastered the art of it and not cower when you come across intimidating individuals.
2. You learn that your world is a “small world after all”. Back in college, my Psychiatric Nursing instructor, Sir G, would frequently give advice on love and relationships to the whole class. He would always tell my single and brokenhearted classmates this, “There are plenty of fish in the sea. Girl, nasa kanal ka pa lang!” (There are plenty of fish in the sea. Girl, you’re just in the drain!”) I would like to use this metaphor to make my point. Simple?
3. You become financially mature. Since you are far from the security and accessibility of home, you are left with no other choice but to fend for yourself in almost all aspects of living especially in your finances. When you were working home, there would be times that you can’t make both ends meet. But that never worried you because you can always ask mom or dad to loan you some cash exactly when you need it. Abroad, you MUST make both ends meet. There’s no other way but to do it. There’s no mom and dad to rescue you when you realize that you no longer have enough for another working day. Again, you gotta be responsible so you become responsible.
4. You develop a stronger connection with God. I vividly remember the scenario in the aircraft when I landed in my work base coming back from a week of my first visit in the Philippines. My thought bubble exactly was, “God, it’s just me and you again.” You have developed a more mature and warm level of confidence in God that your prayers aren’t all too formal anymore. You pray when you feel like it no matter where and when you are. Talking with Him has never been more consistent and this easy in the past. You clutch to the One who has brought you there. You hold on to the belief that for as long as you have Him, everything should be okay.
5. You value your relationships more. When you were still working in your home country, text messages and email exchanges with your family and loved ones are mostly brief and precise. Saying “I love you” to your mother was cheesy and it takes so much of your guts to say it out loud. Now that you’re a thousand miles away from your precious ones, the “How are you?”‘s, “Take care”‘s, and “I love you”‘s have become more meaningful than ever. Now you can display a little bit more of affection confidently in public because of that unwanted but possible thought that you may never have the chance to do it again.
6. Money can’t buy everything but it’s definitely something. This is something I am most certain of. Money will never ever be everything in life but let’s face it, it really does make the world go round. Besides love, that is. But don’t get me caught up between love and money. You know the answer. However, isn’t being able to provide your family the best life you possibly can say something? Isn’t being able to splurge on your dream perfume good? Doesn’t knowing that you can now afford both your wants (unlike before that you make do of your salary just for your needs) and needs make you feel proud of yourself?
7. You realize that you no longer have time for unnecessary and forced friendships.Remember those times you made an effort to pattern with other girls’ likes and attitude just so you can fit in and be friends with them? Remember feeling obliged to make small talk, say nice things and be overly polite to someone just so you can be friends with him/her (or maintain that hallucination of a friendship you thought you had)? You no longer have the energy and the time for those. You’d rather spend both of it wisely on those who matter and those who you’re sure are true.
8. You become more ambitious as you see more of the world. Seeing more innovation especially in first world countries have opened your eyes and mind to more possibilities of this world. Your imagination widens and so do your dreams. You see more beauty by the Creator and so in the amazement of it, you can’t help but wish your family were there with you sharing in that moment of awe. And so, you make it possible.
9. Your inner wanderlust is activated. As you encounter different cultures, you tend to imagine what’s more in another world..what’s different in another country. You become naturally curious of the world and the world that’s there to find. You ache to see more and learn more. And both will lead you to become wiser and smarter about life which is another profit on its own.
10. You become proactive. Having spent your present abroad, you develop a habit of thinking and planning for the future. Now, you are able to sit down and talk about what you want your life to become five to ten years from now. And you have confidence and mastery in the manner you aim it. Now, you grab life by the horns. And you grab it good. You have learned to always seek and lay out the pros and cons of the major decisions and chapters in your life. You have become in charge of the present and so you’re assured you’re gonna take over your future — and you’re gonna rock it.#