Leaving your home country has its pros and cons. The thrill of starting a new life and seeking new opportunities sounds inviting but comes with a price. Unknown to most people, transferring from one country to another is not a walk in the park and the first few weeks (or even months) can be a struggle, too. For those who experienced relocating to different countries more than once, I bet you can relate to these challenges any Expat would’ve gone through!

Packing and unpacking

All bags are packed and ready to go. Photo via Flickr.
All bags are packed and ready to go. Photo via Pixabay.

I hate to pack. It is probably a weird statement coming from somebody who loves traveling but hates something that obviously goes hand-in-hand with it. It could be the effort of folding each piece of clothing or just seeing the amount of stuff waiting for my attention. I was never a minimalist, maybe I should’ve been especially since relocating thrice to avoid disliking this process.

Finding a place to stay

Where to go from here? Photo via Pixabay.
Where to go from here? Photo via Pixabay.

I think I should change this to “finding a place to stay that will fit all my stuff” instead. But regardless, anybody who relocated to a new country can relate to the issue of finding a place they can call “home” – even for just a short while. Some are fortunate enough to have somebody they know already living in that country or better, sponsored by the Company who hired them. But for most of us that aren’t as lucky, we all worry about where to head off to unpack after leaving the airport.

Getting familiar with the surroundings

I have zero sense of direction, another surprising fact about a traveler like me. Probably inherited from my Mom, I easily get lost or find it hard to figure out the map. To be honest, this is one of the biggest and longest challenges I face when I relocate to a new place. And because of this, it always takes some time (could take me months) to familiarize myself with my new surroundings. It is always a challenge not to get lost trying to find my way from my apartment to go to the groceries, Church, workplace, or even a local coffee shop! Google maps definitely became my best friend in no time but that didn’t prevent me from getting lost either!

Getting used to a new accent

Singlish, Kiwi, Aussie, Scottish, Irish, French, Italian etc – my hearing is still pretty good and my conversation skills in English is not that bad either. But engaging in a conversation with different nationalities proved to be difficult especially if it’s the first time for me to hear a certain accent. To be honest, there were countless times when I barely understood a colleague from work (or worse – a client) while in a meeting. Or, being the last person to “get” the joke just because I didn’t manage to pick up the accent early on!

Saying goodbye and moving to a new place

The Expat. Photo via Flickr.
The Expat. Photo via Flickr.

I don’t think the years I spent outside of my home country, the countless times I went to the airport to board a flight or the number of farewell parties I attended can make it easier for me to say goodbye to people I know and became close with. It is a usual scene for me to get teary-eyed (or sob like a baby) as soon as reality hits me that I am leaving a place I called home for a while to venture into the land of the unknown. Leaving a comfort zone is always hard; add up to the fact that whenever I relocate – I leave people, memories, and familiarity behind. And that makes saying goodbye a lot harder and painful no matter how many times I have done it in the past.