Over 8 million Americans live abroad, and I am one of them. Here are 6 ways that it has improved my life.
1. Appreciating A Slower Pace
Even though we live in an urban city of over 10 million people, the pace of life here is slower for us. It is hot here, I get tired quickly and just can’t do the same amount of things in a day I could back home. And that’s okay. I’ve learned to let it go, and my mental health is a lot better because of it. The slower pace is teaching me patience, not typically one of my strengths. Also, it is teaching me to prioritize – if you know you aren’t going to be able to do as much, you make sure to do the important things first, so they don’t get left behind.
2. Finding A Renewed Purpose
During the past decade of adulting, I had lost my way a little. Maybe a lot in some areas. I often wasted the present moment or an entire season being too focused on “some day”, or regretting things of the past. Deciding to create a fresh start has been invigorating, and given me a new passion for choosing joy in the here and now. I find it much more rewarding to be curating the here and now that God has provided us with in this current life overseas.
3. Redefining “Home”
I need to quote an Edward Sharpe song here: “Home is wherever I’m with you”. When I first began adulting, I dreamed of the perfect home, with the perfect decor, in the perfect neighborhood…but as life propelled forward, I began to redefine what “perfect” means to me. In this decade of my life, home is not a certain structure, nor is it a magazine-worthy set-up; it is the place I live with my family. It is the place we retreat to for comfort and peace, where we share both love and tears. I have realized it can look like anything, and it can be anywhere, as long as we’re together. Home is wherever God calls us. (For the backstory on how we ended up in Thailand, click here and here.)
4. Recognizing that I Can Do Hard Things
Life as a middle class American can be a boring, shallow existence if you’re not intentional about making it otherwise. Moving overseas stripped away most comforts and normalcies I had been used to, and that exposed fears, selfishness, and other not-so-attractive qualities. But, it also brought healthier qualities to the forefront, such as confidence, perseverance, and joy in the accomplishments.
5. Treasuring a Simple Life
We live pretty simply here. We work – me with the paid teaching job, hubby with the volunteer work and also building bamboo bikes, the kids with school. We strive each day to be the best version of ourselves we can be, loving and learning, pursuing creativity through different avenues trying to make good use of our gifts and talents, and serving others in various capacities.
6. Growing a Global Perspective
Living outside of my home country has provided me with a new lens through which to view the world. It heightens empathy and increases the desire to learn about others and their experiences and to try to see things from their perspective. Also, it brings about the desire to be open to differences in people and ways of life. Living in a developing country and seeing true poverty with your own eyes spotlights the need for ministries and outreach that you you may miss while going about daily life in a first world country.