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Hard Parts About Being An Expat

Friday, July 1, 2016

Dearest hearts,

Being an expat is not always rainbows and butterflies, sunshine and unicorns. Sometimes it's really tough and sometimes it's feels like a breeze but somehow deep inside you know that there are feelings stirring... of course there are wonderful parts like learning more about the culture you are part of right now, travelling to cities you can barely spell out their names (like Pszczyna) or that you can spell out but when you do people start laughing as it does not resemble the way the locals spell it (take for example Lodz) but to these ups there are always downs - that how life goes ;) you can't have one without the other.  So here are some hard parts of being an expat, from the Twisted Red LadyBug 's own experience - you might find your own expat thoughts on this list as well: 
1. Loneliness - this feeling will hit you eventually like a hammer and there is no telling when it will happen. You might be in the new country for 1 minute or 1 year and it can hit you then... but it won't shy away from you, it will hit you with all its might. It will be the moment when you feel that even though you are surrounded by friends and collegues in your now place, you still wish you could go home to your family and friends there. It will get better, it won't pass away and you may get depressive... try to surround yourself with people who love you and do things you love doing in order to take your mind off things, unless you can grab your bag and have a short trip home.
2. Communication - you will probably be split in 2 between hating the phone vs. calling the family all the time. I know people who Skype with their families home daily, even if they have nothing to say, they just say hi and see them - that is important for them. I fall on the other side, seeing ans thinking about them makes me more and more homesick and sad. Makes me angry I can't have them here, so I prefer to have a Facebook group with the ones I love, to keep them updated. I let them know what is new and what are the latest news yet I don't call daily. Phone calls make me sad and frustrated and give me huge headaches... for some they are a happy moment, for me they are the opposite. Social media helps me on this case and even my granny has a Facebook page ;) yep, she's that cool!
3. Language - no one tells you, but if you don't have people around to speak daily to, you may forget your own mother language... practice makes perfect so if you speak in English all the time you will eventually think and dream and do everything in English and put your homeland language on second place. You will have problems finding sometimes words when you speak to your family. I even switch when I talk to my sister and we mostly speak in English... it's gonna happen, so don't stress! Also, you will have to eventually learn the language of the country you are in. And it can be easy if you go from a Latin country to a Latin country or from a country with Slavic language to another, but if you make the shift from Slavic to Latin or Latin to Slavic... you're in for some "fun time". The first fee months I thought they were speaking parseltongue ans I could not figure out where a sentence starts and where it stops... Eventually after 5 years I can speak it maybe on a B1 level... and I can understand most of it, if they don't start with regional words...
4. Outsider - let's face it, as much as you will try you will never be 100% part of the homeland that you are in now. You will feel at home, you will make friends, you will marry that hot Polish guy who acts like a gentleman and makes you very happy, you will change your job to something that fits you very well, you will learn the language and even attempt to speak it (even though you will do horrible grammatical errors that you will probably be aware of!) but at the same time you will have that feeling that you are not there 100%. That somehow some part of you does not fit in properly - maybe it's a thought, an idea, a vision, a story that people turn their eyes at even though you know that in your birth land they would smile or laugh... you will be there but not quite, stuck in the middle. The sad part is that when you would come back home, to visit, you will no longer fit there 100% as well. It's a paradox, one that every expat must live with: feeling at home in your homeland and adoptive homeland yet not being there fully. 
5. Rules and regulations - don't expect your homeland to be the same as your adoptive home. Don't start with this premise or you're gonna get hurt, most likely. Make sure you check everything you must do, once you enter the adoptive homeland. From registering yourself to getting a social security number / PESEL and or a NIP number, doing your taxes on a yearly basis, paying all the other taxes and VAT and making sure you are a clear and legal citizen in the country you are staying. That means also getting a visa if needed and not being on the black market of work. Also being part of a corporation and having private care also falls under here. Make sure you have everything up to order as you never know when some small paper will be needed! That also goes for not wondering inside the city without a ticket or a public transport card - the fines are huge and you will get caught and it won't matter that you are a foreigner! The public transport in Poland is amazing so I support them! I have a public transport monthly card that allowes me to take trams and buses unlimited :) 
There is much more to being said about being an expat, but I would love to hear your thoughts / feelings / opinions on this. Do you agree with my 5 points on what is hard to be an expat? Have you had the same experiences as I did? How did you pass through them? Sharing is caring ;) so let's help eachother! :)

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red LadyBug - the Romanian expat living in Krakow, Poland, for more than 5 years now!