A rational expat adjusts to his new home. An irrational one demands that his new home adjusts to him. Tony Crossly
I don’t know who this Tony Crossly is, but his quote is spot on. For over three years I’ve been surround by the irrational expat. The one that demands that an Islamic country change its laws and accommodate their need for alcohol. The one that demands that his language is spoken fluently by everyone. The one that demands every single detail of his new home be exactly the same as his old home.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that an expat cannot complain at all. It’s human nature. We complain. But like everything in life, do it in moderation. I cannot count how many times I had to sit at a table in Abu Dhabi, Libya and now Mozambique and listen to people just moan and groan about every little single detail about their new home. It’s draining.
I myself was guilty of this during my first couple of years in London. Relentless complaining until someone told me, “If you don’t like here, either leave or get used to it in some way!”. It was the best advice someone gave me. Now don’t get me wrong, it didn’t mean that I suddenly decided that I loved London, I simply decided to focus on the good and forget the bad. It worked for about four years… And then I simply couldn’t handle the city anymore and decided that I needed to leave.
And that’s the point I want to get to: nobody forces you to be an expat, you’re an expat because you choose to be. Yes, I agree that sometimes a crumbling economy, job opportunities etc. lead to make that choice, but it still remains YOUR choice. If you chose to leave your home, accept your own decision and make the best of the experience that awaits you.
It was with this approach that I moved to the Emirates, Libya and Mozambique with. It worked. However it only worked because I adjusted to my new home. Don’t get me wrong, it’s never easy as somethings are near impossible to adjust to (this list too long to elaborate right now). I always sought to adjust and focus on the positives in the country.
For example, Abu Dhabi, can be an annoying city to live in due to congestion, weather (in the summer), attitude to women and the inexplicable clueless-ness of the city’s taxi drivers. However, the has positives that as a “Westerner” can make life pretty decent. Tripoli is harder to adjusted to adjust to, but once again, if you focus on the positives it can be a pleasant city to live in.
The key to being an expat is adjusting. Adjusting and making the best of the circumstances you are in. That’s what I strive to do. Always. And in all honesty, I’ve succeeded every time…
What do you think? Am I oversimplifying?