What’s great about being an expat?

Last week I wrote a post about expats complaints. Today, I want to focus on the things that makes being an expats great. After all, moving to another country is not that bad. So, looking at my almost 6 years of living in Belgium I came up with a list of things that I believe makes being an expat purely uplifting or at least worthwhile.

  • Immersion in a new culture. This one here is priceless. I think there’s no other way one can experience and learn about a new culture, other than living in it. You can read and discuss about it all you want, but living in a new culture gives a precious insight.
  • Possibility to reinvent yourself!! Enough said!!
  • Getting to know new people (and many times different) Depending on the type of person you are, this will make you happy or stress you. There is the type of person who get energized by people and there are the ones who love being a hermit. Either way, I think this also teaches you more about the world we live in.
  • Make new friends. I enjoy meeting new people and making new friends. It’s funny when I see that whether you want it or not, the same rules don’t apply. These new people will not react as your old friends and so, you have to adapt the way you manage your new relationships.

    Seen Paris so many times, I don't even take my camera with me anymore. Source: Emily Williams

    Seen Paris so many times, I don’t even take my camera with me anymore. Source: Emily Williams

  • Travelling. Being in a different side of the globe will immediately expose you to new territories. So, you can travel to a new set of countries. And who doesn’t like travelling?! (I know, such people exist, but they are not a majority 🙂
  • New type of cuisine (also veggies, fruits, etc.) If you love food, you’re going to enjoy this one a lot. For example  I grew up in a part of Romania where seafood is not very present, nor popular. So, now I have a new found flavor pallet to explore.
  • Learn about humanity. People react differently to certain situations due to their upbringing, culture, type of person and traditions. Living in new places will expose you to how people are built and learn that although biologically we are the same, the way we turn out as adults is very much determined by our surroundings.
  • New adventures. It is quite rare that you are not faced with new adventures. Be it paperwork, people’s attitudes, surviving incidents, etc.
  • Learn about yourself. It so happens that if out in a new situation, place and circumstance, you wouldn’t be able to discover parts about yourself. Before moving to Belgium I had no idea how much stress I can take, that it can take me months to learn how to drive, but a second to actually decide to drive when pressured. Discovered that I’m good when someone’s in a crisis, but barely able to deal with mine 🙂
  • Learn new skills. From cooking, swimming or skying and anything else that you were not exposed at home. 

Probably the list can go on, but this is my summary! I think the most important thing is that you stay open minded and enjoy what you can, as much as you can. So, what makes it great for you being an expat?


Expats have their own complaints, you know…

Are you an expat? Do you feel like your host country is too quirky? Well, then you’ll be happy to know others do to.

I started following a few expat blogs, curious to see how other people experience living in a foreign country. I’m already surrounded by expats, but just wanted to check out the experiences of expats in other countries.

I have had my fair share of complaints about Belgium, some on good grounds, some just from being fed up. But in the last 2 years or so I have come to peace with many of the things that make me raise my eyebrows in wonder or disbelief. On top of that, I just got to the conclusion that there must be a cap of how much one can complain about their host country.

Nevertheless, in my quest to discover other expats I have noticed a few repetitive complaints:

  1. Language: “everything is in French” or “all the announcements are in Spanish” or “of course there’s nothing in English”. I cannot understand how one can expect that the country you migrated to would have the language of your liking. In most cases, there’s absolutely no obligation to have it in any other language than the national one. It’s as if I move to Spain and I expect the signs, announcements, etc. to be in French or Romanian. Ridiculous, right?
  2. Supermarkets: Most probably, you might not find your favorite products or have the aisles arranged the way you are used to.
  3. Bureaucracy: Trust me, this is like a bad virus that’s spread worldwide. Maybe you should ask expats who migrated to your country of origin about the red tape, see how they experience it. It might be worst than where you’re currently in. For example, I complained about how are things done on Belgium, but I have no idea what expats in Romania are going through.
  4. People & Behavior: Yes, it’s high likely that people, traditions and behavior will be different from the ones in your country. We’re not all made the same, it’s not a copy paste procedure. Plus, that would be very boring. So, I don’t understand people’s surprise about the locals’ reactions to certain situations being differently.
  5. Food: This is a given! This will rarely meet your expectations. Sometimes it’s better and you fall in love with, but there are cases when you just can’t deal with it. Both cases are expected. Local food depends so much on the region, weather. development of the country, religion, etc. So, with so many variables, it’s natural that you won’t get the same as your mom’s cooking.
  6. Development of the country: Rightfully so, if you follow international news you’ll realize that some countries have it better than others.

The list could go on and the complaints as well. But, how many of these issues are really problematic and how many of them are just a representative of the culture shock. I believe that unless you are being abused or treated in a bad way, you should come to terms with the things that don’t work. Most expats have the option to actually just move out of their host country and search for a better option. But most times is so much easier to choose a negative attitude. It’s such a shame! I have wasted maybe months from enjoying Europe because I was too busy complaining about what was wrong. SO, this blog is meant to encourage you to enjoy your time in each country you pass through.

So, just because it’s different, it doesn’t mean it’s bad or wrong!

Easy tips to negotiate like a boss

I recently subscribed to socialtriggers.com to receive ideas for my blog, job and generally smart ways to improve the quality of my communication. Didn’t think I was going to get much from it. But much to my surprise they have practical ideas on how to boost the traffic on your blog.

Today, I got this video in my inbox. It presents 3 tips on how to become a better negotiator. Take a look:


Too comfortable for happiness?

The other day I was having a chat with one of my colleagues at work and I was explaining to her how I have the impression that someone I care about lots seems to always be unhappy. Although most of the variables in this person’s life should at least bring her to a decent level of happiness, dissatisfaction and sadness always have priority. It’s frustrating since I try so hard to work on these variables, but it just doesn’t seem to work.

Too comfortable to chill in the ocean :)

Too comfortable to chill in the ocean 🙂

Then, my colleague said something that got me thinking:”You know that there are people who have had a hard life and probably most of their existence were sad, so now it’s hard to change that.” I’m thinking that they got to a stage where although their life has changed they become numb to the feeling of being happy. It’s so comfortable to stay sad, as that’s all you know. Being happy requires effort, requires a change of attitude and that’s not always easy.

Of course, I don’t want to give excuses, but I at least want to understand and maybe take a stand in case this could happen to me. In case I get so used to a negative feeling, that it gets comfortable to live with it. I picture it as a pinch nerve that I’ve been fighting. If I put enough pressure on my shoulder I might be able to avoid the pain for a while. But I do know that on the long term, my physiotherapy sessions will help me, although it takes time and frustration as it’s not working as fast as I would like it to.

So, are you too comfortable in something that will not help you on the long run? If you are, mind you that you might wake up years from now miserable, bitter or mediocre at something that you could have excelled.

My Belgium must see

When Brussels was bliss
Do you feel like you are maximizing your time in Belgium? Have you postpone seeing places in Belgium just because you always say you have enough time? I’ve been in Belgium for over 5 years and still haven’t done or seen basic stuff like the Art Nouveau Tour, Liege, inside of the Palais de Justicee in Brussels and so on.
Mind you, I’ve already experienced a lot here and enjoyed many places, but lacking so much nonetheless. So, I started my list of the must see things. If you think something is missing and you highly recommend it, then please give me a heads up.
Last Updated: 4th March 2013
2013 Events (All events here http://bit.ly/15iM7ia)
  • Christmas markets: Leuven, Brugge
  • Science Museum, Brussels
  • Waterloo Lion
  • Palais de Justice in Brussels (inside)
  • Antwerp’s Museum of Fine arts
  • Antwerp: Beguinage
Visit places
  • Liege
  • Chocolate workshop
  • Ghent – Stam museum
  • Week-end in the Ardennes (bike, walk..)
  • Aalst canival