Part Two: What I Loved as an Expat
Part one was the things I learned as an expat but what about the things I loved? As someone who comes alive when taking on the adventure of moving abroad, I could make an endless list of what I loved… but for now, here are my top three:
The highs are high.
I can distinctly picture the times in my life I’ve felt on top of the world. A physical feeling of wanting to burst with joy. Both times I lived aboard I experienced this; in Australia onboard a plane as I flew from Melbourne where I’d been visiting friends to Sydney where I called home, and in Rome in my first few weeks when I sat on the edge of a bridge over the River Tiber and realised this was my new life. For me that emotion was more than the “I don’t want this to end” or “I’m overwhelmed by how amazing this is” of an unforgettable trip, it was more personal than that. It was me saying to myself “well done, you did it. Go make the most of this adventure.” The highs of achievements and rewards can be so much more when you’re away from your home.
Your family just grew.
It’s a bit like university where you’re thrown into a new context with a group of people you don’t know and within the first week you’ve made friends for life. When you don’t have friends or family around, you make connections fast and relationships speed up. I found that locals give you a sense of security and stability while there's a more immediate connection with fellow expats. You meet people who become as essential to you as family and you make friends with whom you build memories instantly. Of course, there’ll also be those who were only ever going to be part of that moment in your life. But for someone who only has one brother, I’ve already gained several new ‘sisters’ from my time abroad.
You’ll never be the same again.
Whether you like it or not, this time changes you. You may learn new skills or grow as a person, develop new tastes or grow your hair. Or you may feel you’ve made no tangible changes. But without trying, your world view has expanded, your tolerance tested and your flexibility practiced. You become a more evolved, multi-faceted version of yourself. It’s when you return to your home country and spend time with loved ones that this becomes apparent. In whatever way and to whatever extent you change, it’s beautiful.
I know I’m forever grateful for my time abroad during which I learned Italian, discovered I actually quite enjoy a wild adventure in nature, developed a far greater understanding of others' viewpoints and practiced living in the moment and making the most of it.
My 'sister' Grace in Australia / That river view in Rome / Beauty to be found in Italy