Misconceptions About the Expat Life

People assume a lot of things when they hear that you are living and working abroad for a long time. They take it to mean that you don’t like your home country, that you were unemployable there, that every single day in your host country is sunshine and rainbows. Also, that we somehow didn’t appreciate the rights and advantages we had while we lived at home. We needed to be somewhere else for a while to truly understand what we gave up. While some things may apply to some expats some of the time, and it is true that being away can give us perspective we might not have had before, to assign these things to all of us and assume that we are all ungrateful or unappreciative of our homes does us all a huge disservice.

First of all, I love my home. I didn’t leave because I hate it there. I have not run into too many expats who hate their homeland. Sometimes being away can leave us baffled by things going on at home, sure, but it is still home and most of us plan on going back at some point. But I was given an opportunity to live and work somewhere else, to help students learn a language that can improve their lives here. I am young and I don’t have a family of my own yet. There was nothing keeping me tied to where I lived other than it was where I lived. I—and many of the friends I have made here—believe that as we move into a more global world, we need to understand and appreciate cultures other than our own. There is no better way to experience the world than by actually visiting other places.

Secondly, I did have a job at home. Many people who find themselves working on foreign shores did. But many companies have offices all over the globe. They will often transfer people to head up new offices, to receive or give training to different branches, or simply because they shift people from place to place. Sometimes we are offered incentives or promotions if we go abroad. There are also cases when the money or the cost of living is just better somewhere else. Other people do it for the experience of living somewhere else, or because it will give them an advantage or a better negotiating position when looking for a job upon their return home. There are all sorts of employment reasons why people might leave their home country.

Lastly, life isn’t necessarily perfect (or even better) in other places. Just because I choose to live here in Thailand doesn’t mean that I love everything about it. There are things that will take me ages to get used to, and other things that I don’t know if I will ever truly agree with. I am not saying that it is better or worse, just different than I am used to. Dealing with bureaucratic red tape is incredibly frustrating no matter where you live, but it can be especially difficult and confusing when you don’t speak the language or have an idea of how things work. There are days when I am incredibly homesick, days where I love being here, and just about everything in between.

My main reason for being here is that I love my job. I would teach people English just about anywhere. I happen to be working in Thailand right now, and I’ll stay as long as it makes sense for me to be here. Maybe after this job ends, I will go home. Or maybe I will head to another place entirely. Only time will tell!