Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lessons learned: Is moving overseas a Good idea?

Today I found an article titled: Is Moving Overseas a Bad Idea? and as I read the author's eleven reasons of why it was a bad idea, I wondered about the choices I made and was inspired to write this post, to tell you my reasons for disagreeing with what most of the article had to say. (Note: you can click here to read the article in its entirety and to avoid confusion, the first statement is directly from the article and the second is my opinion.)
1. You may stay longer than planned: The longer you stay the more life at home will go on without you. You will miss the small and big family events. Your friends will develop routines that don’t include you. Making time for your phone calls will become more of an effort for them.

I will admit that returning to the Midwest for a family visit after a year of living in Croatia was more difficult to adjust than I thought. I knew my family had busy schedules and routines to follow. I tried to be flexible, yet there were moments when I felt like an inconvenience. For example, having transportation available was a major struggle, maybe because I'm the type of person that has a difficult time asking for help. You might say, "couldn't you rent a car?" I guess I could have, but life is not always that simple or is it? Alright, as you might have guessed, I mainly agree with this first statement, now on to the second one.

2. It is more difficult to raise children without family and friends nearby.

Since my husband's family live in town and are only minutes away, I would have to disagree with this statement. My in-laws are wonderful grandparents and baby-sitters. And if I need additional moral support, my Mom and sisters are only a phone call away!
3. Cultural Isolation: You will not have a shared history with anyone, except your partner if you have one and then only if he or she is from your home country. You won’t understand the in-jokes at dinner parties, you won’t know the good places to go for buying wardrobe basics, or the best grocery stores for the widest selection or the places to avoid at holidays or that shops close for half a day in the middle of the week.

I would argue, "what about the new experiences you are having in your new country, isn't that worth some value, remember my frog incidence and the rooster story?" You see, we can all have in-jokes. So go on, share them with your acquaintances! And about the good places to go shopping, "couldn't you ask your neighbors, co-workers, friends?"

4. Culture Shock: It’s hideous. And it is not just for new expats—even after living somewhere five or 10 years you will still experience culture shock. Everyone gets culture shock. You will not be an exception no matter how open minded you think you are, no matter how much you think you want to live in another country.

Hideous...Really? Scary, maybe but hideous? Repulsive? I would have to disagree and I would be lying if I told you that I haven't experienced culture shock, but that is part of growing up, of being open-minded you either embrace your new country and its culture or you find it repulsive and spend your days counting the minutes until you return home. Life is full of choices. So what will it be? For me, I made the choice to live in a foreign country with hubby and allow Beli the opportunity to know her other side of the family plus I'm enjoying my time as a stay-at-home Mom.
5. Homesickness: This will hit when you’ve just returned from a visit home, or when you’ve had a bad night sleep with a new baby or when you’re sick of the weather, or when you see a family get together and you know your family are getting together without you. Or it will hit when your washing machine breaks down and you have no idea how to navigate the little nuances of repairman culture in the host country. How could that be difficult, you ask? (Here all the seasoned expats have a knowing chuckle…)

Yes there have been times when I'm homesick and wonder why couldn't we live in the same country? But for the most part, I feel blessed and very lucky to have two loving families, even if they are oceans apart. Who would have imagined that one day I would be living overseas. I tell you, life works in mysterious ways.

So I chose to only discuss 5 of the 11 reasons because the other six I felt could apply to any situation in life and not necessary to moving overseas. I'm also interested in what other expats have to say about these statements. Do you agree or disagree? And what about the family and friends left behind, what are your thoughts, "is moving overseas a good or bad idea?"

17 comments:

  1. It's not that I disagree with the article but it sounds so dramatic. These are things that can happen if you move to a different city within your own country. Moving anywhere is difficult, and when faced with the situations in the article, you have to deal with them the best you can. There are so many factors involved in moving overseas.

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  2. That's the word I was looking for! dramatic, I like it.the article made it seem like you were doomed if you moved overseas. Not always the case.

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  3. Hi Elisa,

    I think that the article was overly dramatic on purpose to highlight worst-case scenarios. Obviously, not ALL expats find themselves in the exact same situations, but they may find themselves in one or two, and if a person feels they wouldn't be able to handle even the slightest bit of such a situation, then perhaps moving abroad is a bad idea.

    Your situation is special in that you moved abroad to be with the other half of your family - not many of us are so lucky! For us, we are thinking about having kids soon. Our family is back in the States and we want our kids to know their grandparents & extended family really well. (Not just during once-a-year visits.) 2 years abroad was just enough time to have a rewarding experience, and now it's time to go back. So for us, I don't think moving abroad was a bad idea, but staying abroad is!

    (sorry for the long comment -- eek!)

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  4. HI Elisa,

    Your blog seems very interesting and informative. YOu most recently left a comment on my posting on spanglish baby, but for some reason i cant leave comments or they wont post when I submit them. At any rate, I wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts. They encourage me and keep me focused on our goals to raise a multilingual baby.

    Suzanne Mateus

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  5. What a negative and defeatist article that is (the one written by Fanni, not you!). Why did she go abroad if it's that bad?
    I could - as you did - counter each point with at least one positive one, often more. And anyway, if you don't like it, you can alwways go back home and miss out on what the rest of the world has to offer...and that would be such a shame!
    Thanks for posting that.

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  6. This is truly fascinating. I think it's brave and kinda cool to live in a different country. I've never been to Croatia, but it looks beautiful!

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  7. Geesh, that article is so negative and whiny. There are such beautiful things to living overseas if one can be apart from family and friends. In my opinion, some good things:

    --Grow as a person and mature--become more flexible.

    --Learn a new language.

    --Appreciate the struggles of people one may not have seen or understood beforehand.

    --Invest money in the local economy.

    --Meet amazing people and new friends.

    --Eat and learn to cook new food.

    --Be the eyes of people who will never have the opportunity go abroad.

    I wouldn't say that culture shock is hideous. Maybe uncomfortable.

    Bueno--olvidé escribir mi post en español. Jaja. Voy a tratar de escribir otra vez para la practica. Lentemente, estoy perdiendo todo lo que aprendí. Entonces, no me reías. ;-)

    Guau, ese articulo es bastante negativo. Hay tantas cosas hermosas de vivir en un otro pais si uno puede estar lejos de su familia y amigos. En mi opinion, buenas cosas incluye:

    --Crecer como persona y estar mas madura--mas flexible.

    --Aprender un idioma nueva

    --Agradecer las luchas de una gente que uno no pudiera entendido antes.

    --Invertir dinero en la economía local.

    --Encontrar a las personas increíbles.

    --Comer y aprender como cocinar platos nuevos. (Como extraño el curry Thailandese!)

    --Estar los ojos de la gente que no pueden visitar otros paises.

    No puedo decir que estar conmocionado sea horrible. Solamente es incomodo. Y tu, que será tu opinion?

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  8. Elisa, I like that you found your own experiences as an expat abroad validated well, your own experience. That's very positive and encouraging. A list of reasons not to live abroad would have about the same affect on me if I were to read a list of reasons why not to leave Wisconsin, New York, etc. for another state - it depends on the individual and even if some of them are true, like you point out, it doesn't mean there aren't reasons to do it anyway. I think we have some similarities in the sense that my in-laws are close by, too, so that takes the edge off of the homesickness and culture shock. I've had my fair share of that, but we grow from it, right?

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  9. Amanda, so you are leaving Switzerland? when? I agree with you, having family nearby is very important, especially more when you have children. I'm glad you had the experience to live abroad, it's life changing right?

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  10. Hi Suzanne, thanks for stopping by and commenting, I admire the fact that you will be raising a trilingual child.

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  11. Ulrike, I'm glad that we agree with most of the statements, although I know that you don't have family close by, yet you have a very positive and uplifting attitude.

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  12. I agree with you (but you know that already lol) - I think it's a matter of character - either you are made for living "away" or you are made for staying at "home"... more than a couple of years in the same place and I become restless...

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  13. Hi, I was born and raised in Croatia and I have been living in America for 10 years now. You create the experience you get living abroad, no one else does. Your experience depends entirely on your attitude. If you constantly compare your native country with your adopted country, certainly you will find your native country and everything about it better. For me, living in America has been a wonderful experience I wouldn't want to end because I embraced its culture instead of constantly comparing it with Croatia's. :)

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  14. Ivana, in the beginning, I was guilty of this, "always comparing Croatia to the States" whether it was about the food or the legal system, but after a few months I realized I was missing out on the true beauty that makes Croatia the way it is. I have learn so much about myself and I would never trade the opportunity I have had of living in Croatia. And I will have to agree with you Ivana, the experience does depend entirely on the attitude of the "expat".

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  15. In your article you point out some very important matters, which indeed are necessary. I can not say that I absolutely agree with you, but generally I do.

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  16. Hi, you make mind blowing ideas and a spectacular article here. moving overseas

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  17. nice blog with some nice informationMoving overseas

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