80% of the UAE’s population are foreigners, so most of us here have experienced what it’s like to pack our bags and travel to a foreign land. There’s a lot to be said about living abroad and words are almost never enough to explain how thrilling, frightening, and overall exciting it is.
This is a list of some things that you learn when you live abroad, whether that be in the UAE or elsewhere:
- You learn to ask for help
In some cultures, we have been taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness and it should be avoided at all costs. It’s better to figure something out for yourself even if it takes you ages rather than ask questions and lift your burden immediately. But when you live abroad, this perspective begins to change and you find that seeking help is not as embarrassing as you’ve believed it to be. Whether it’s asking a stranger for directions, bus timings, or even restaurant recommendations, you now find a sense of ease as you start recognizing that not knowing everything is fine, especially in a foreign land.
- You learn the language
Learning the local language of the new country that you’ll be living in is always advisable. Whether it’s just learning a few phrases to add to your vocabulary, essential words that could help you in dire need, or even how to read and write it fully. Most foreigners in the UAE who have not known a lick of Arabic before coming here now know words such as “Shukran”, “Al Salaam Mualaikum”, and even “Habibi”. Learning the local language helps you become one with your new home. Plus, it’s also quite impressive once you go back to your country and show off to your friends and family.
- You learn that home is no longer home
The country that you once called “home” no longer feels like home to you. Home is not just the house you grew up in as a kid, it’s now the place where you learn to grow up and be an adult. It is where you get to know who you truly are as a person. You sometimes even get confused which one you’ll refer to when saying “I’m going home”.
- You develop deeper cultural understanding
Living abroad teaches you how to be more kind, understanding, and patient. Now that you are mingling with people who are of various cultures and backgrounds, you begin to appreciate the diversity of the world a whole lot more. Being exposed to people of different religions, races, languages, and beliefs help make you develop a deeper sense of understanding for other people. You become more patient because you know that you were brought up differently than they were, and that’s okay. You learn how to be politer so as to not accidentally offend somebody.
- You find that friends come and go
Living abroad often gives you the opportunity to meet new people. Friends become your best source of community while you are away from your biological family. And you find that family is not only about being related by blood, but also those who help you through life, especially as you are living it in a foreign place. You have friends who come from all parts of the globe and you share life together. Like you, they do not belong in this place forever. Like you, they are living to travel and breathe in the excitement that life has to offer. None of you are here for good. Saying goodbye to them does not mean you lose them, it only means that you can live vicariously through the new experiences that they will be having when you catch up in your Skype sessions.
- You start all over again
There is no replay button in life that you can just press to go back, relive, and redo something. However, living abroad gives you the opportunity to start all over again. You begin building up your life from scratch. It’s coming into your new unfurnished apartment with excitement of decorating it however you want. It’s starting from zero friends and building up your network once again. Starting over a new life abroad does not mean undoing whatever you have done back in your home country. It means being able to experience new things for the first time once again.
Despite the countless things that change when you live abroad, the joy of coming back to your home country to see your friends and family remains. Regardless of where you currently live in, your home country will still have a special place in your heart that no other place could compare.
What do you think of our list? Do you have any more points that you’d like to add based on your experience living abroad? Leave them in the comments below to let us know!