When we decided to become expats, I knew there were others like us out there – I just had to find them. Once I started looking, I was amazed at just how many people have chosen an expatriate lifestyle. So many people tell me that they wish they could move to another country; I want to share the stories of those who have made the choice. I hope that these stories might encourage others to take the plunge. Today’s post is from Varya of the Creative World of Varya. She’s a mom of 2 raising a multicultural and multilingual family. Varya has many years of experience working with children and families on nurturing language, physical and creativity development. If you’ve ever wondered what I was like growing up just read the first 3 sentences of this guest post – that was me too! You can connect with Varya on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Sulia, and Instagram.
Since I was a little girl, I loved geography, history and languages. Other countries, nationalities and cultures fascinated me. I dreamed of visiting other place in my own country and other countries as well.
Hi, I am Varya, originally from Russia, Siberia. I’ve been living in China for the past 12 years and I got married here to the love of my life and we have 2 wonderful girls.
My first overseas trip happened in 1998. It was related to some personal things going on in my life at that time. I loved Malaysia. I spent almost 3 lovely months and I wished I could visit more places in the future.
Second time I left Russia for a Baha’i course I was invited to in Kazakhstan. That summer I also visited Kyrgyzstan. It was a very refreshing change as well as it was quite different culturally from familiar Russia.
Third time I left the country for a conference in India. It was magical. I was so in love with the country that travelling 3rd class, simple food, even some unfortunate things that happened that summer never imprinted my memory with any negative emotions.
The same summer a friend of mine told me she moved to China to teach English. She advised me to try for her school. I did, but it didn;t work out. I was “burning” with the idea of going somewhere for a short time (a year or two) to work and live and so I applied to so many different places. I almost ended up in Africa but China worked out faster and before I knew what was happening, I moved here!
It wasn’t easy at first- I had a great culture shock. I missed friends, I felt horrible as I couldn’t communicate with people and the food was so different!
However, as the time passed by, I started falling in love with this country and its people. I can’t say that until now I completely “get” Chinese mentality but I believe that people are people and anywhere we go it is our attitude and sincerity towards others that count. So, now it has been 12 years since I moved to this country and I really don’t think we will be leaving any time soon!
From what I wrote above it seems like everything smooth and easy. While my first 2 times out of country were sponsored by family and friends, my trip to India and my move to China were all me. I worked hard, I took more hours at my stable place of work. I took lots of tutoring hours, I was blessed that a friend offered me a temp job at a Baha’i Publishing Trust. I was determined to travel and I found the ways.
What I am trying to say here is that if 12 years ago, when it was very expensive and much harder to travel, I found a way to fulfill my dreams, anyone can do it now, when there are so many more opportunities for the international travel.
It is important to believe that you can achieve your dream – and it will happen. Yes, sometimes we have to work harder than usually to gather resources but it is not impossible.
Once we are in another country, we can choose how to survive there – will be become snobbish foreigners that feel everyone and everyone owe it to them? Or will be try and blend with the local population, embrace the culture (as much as possible, cause you know – the effort is what really counts!), and accept and deal with challenges in honourable ways?
It is not always possible to blend 100% with the local friends but when we try to understand where they come from, what moves them and how to deal with them, we get the best results and satisfaction from living abroad.
Thank you so much Varya for sharing a little bit of your life and experience with me and other readers!