5 Invaluable Lessons I Learnt from Living between 2 Continents

The life of an expat is always particular. We are a different breed all in all who refuses to settle and gives up the comfort of a homeland for the excitement of seeing new places. We make fun of tourists and struggle to explain the extraordinary things we experienced to the ones who are waiting for us at home. We are judged, adored and questioned all the time, but one thing is sure: we will never forget the things that this kind of living has taught us.

 

Take only what you need

 

Packing our whole life together in a luggage becomes a routine as brushing the teeth in the morning and we develop a sixth sense for making our bags weight half kg less than the allowed limit. We write shopping lists before every departure to our close ones on either side of the planet and we go the extra mile just to get that dream gift for someone from a place exotic from their angle.

But the lesson for life about keeping our possessions under baggage allowance will be the fact that we will appreciate every single personal object that could fit in. Each time we hold an item in our hands we ask ourselves twice: Is it really necessary?

And so, the ones that could pass the test will be our treasures and will carry all our memories. We won’t wish for a car or a new curtain in our living room and we will be grateful for the things we have, because that’s all we actually need.

 

To create my own home literally anywhere

 

The good thing in moving often is that after a while you won’t need a place to call it your Home. You won’t get too attached to a room or a city, because you know you will leave one day, but you can always find your inner peace wherever you go.

I have my favourite songs & meditation tracks with me which can calm me down when the feeling of uncertainty kicks in, and I keep some meaningful tiny objects and pictures in the centre of my room to make me feel grounded. One of these things on my table is an Inception-like rolling totem from my best friend; she gave it to me in order to remind me that no matter how incredible the things seem around me, I am not dreaming.

 

The difference between culture and humanity

 

After the euphoria of new tastes, interesting customs and beautiful buildings you will make your way through the stages of cultural shock, and with a great amount of patience you might start to understand the way of thinking of a nation – and will reflect on your own.

They might wear jeans, drink coke, sit in cafés and shop in malls, but after you see behind the illusion of globalization you discover that the mentality of people is, in fact, a lot more than international brands and externalities. Understanding a profoundly distinct culture is a hard lesson, which will teach you that we are, indeed, not the same. You won’t convince a person about your mindset over a coffee, maybe not even over a lifetime and you have to accept this.

But if you have been travelling for a while, the world will give you another invaluable lesson: that we are all One. Once you realize this you will be able to find bond and connection without having to always agree.

 

None of my beliefs are truly mine

 

When you take up the role of an outsider –and you basically have no other choice abroad- your entire day will turn into a talk show: you are the guest, and the questions start pouring in.

Tell me about your religion! Is it true that people in your country are all doing that thing? Isn’t that weird that you guys live like that?

At times it will be really challenging to explain things which were so normal to you since you were born, and other times you won’t be able to answer why something makes sense in your culture –because it actually doesn’t. People who approach you with pure curiosity will end up questioning your entire worldview.

Yet, if you are willing to be vulnerable and open to get to the root of your belief systems, then it gives a chance to change your thinking for the better. You soon start to give up old patterns and get assured about others, and thus your mindset becomes your own.

 

How to pass on my lessons learnt

 

“Traveling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”- Ibn Battuta

You have seen things which made you blink twice before you could believe it’s real, and found yourself in situations no travel guide could prepare you for. You will never put an end to things with answers like „Thanks, I’m doing okay”, you will always tell a story.

And despite the fact that it is hard to explain what you have understood through a long journey to people who didn’t come with you, you will carry a legacy of building a bridge between cultures and people forever.

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