Dear past, present, or future expat,
I’m writing you this letter in hopes I can inspire you to pass along the message. When we live overseas, we encounter many people, good or bad. These people shape us and change our views of the world. Some people may like your home country and others, not so much. If there’s one thing you should never forget, it’s to be kind.
Kindness is something humans must practice. How we choose to show it, is up to the individual. Some are easily able to express those sentiments while others have no clue how. Kindness should be in the, “how to be an expat” book, if there was one…
But I want you to remember to be kind. Recall all the people who helped you. Remember your adoptive grandma or grandpa, or the family who took you in while you lived your expat journey. Think back to the people who helped call the doctor when you were sick or the people who supported you when you felt alone and desolate.
Everyone will go through culture shock at one point or another. Everyone will be homesick and want to give up at some point. Don’t give up and throw away those beautiful things. Don’t be selfish and think no one loves you or cares, they do. You just need to change your attitude and look at the positive outlook.
In some places you’ll miss having a big fridge, a washer and dryer, or the ability to communicate. You might miss Chipotle, In and Out Burger, or the local bar you trolled with your friends as you played darts. I miss those things too, sometimes more than others.When you feel that way, think instead, of what you do have.
Think about your local friends who spent time at the beach with you laughing. Fondly remember the Christmases spent eating, drinking, and being merry. Ponder the sunrises or sunsets after long days or nights. By being in a different environment and stuck in sticky situations, you gained the skills to get creative or think outside of the box. Imagine the summer festivals, historic sites or mountains you conquered. Just remember you gained more than you left behind.
You’ll miss your family but remember some of the people you meet overseas become your family too. Nothing is permanent or definite so make sure you treat your adopted family kindly too. Learn from their culture and how they do unto others.
Think about the times you were so grateful for help you could cry. Remember how you felt so helpless and someone went out of their way to lead you to your destination, stay with you at the hospital or dry your tears as you wept. Think about the smiles they gave when you couldn’t put one on your face. Think about the small piece of cake they gave you to put the smile back.
Dear expat, remember to be kind. Help the lost person with a map and a frustrated face. You’ve been there and remember how thankful you were when someone took the time to explain directions when you were clueless. Don’t forget to stretch out your hand and give the kindness. You never know who you might reach or what you might accomplish.
Pass along the kindness because you never know who you might meet or who’s heart you might touch.