21 Things Only Expats Will Understand

  • Posted by Jason on May 6, 2015 in Immigration

If you’ve lived overseas for any length of time, there are certain little secret understandings you share with other expats that other people just can’t get their head around. Here’s a list of our favourites:

Foreign Expats

1. Language Barriers

On the plus side, you’ll win every game of charades you enter after being an expat for a few months. As long as you learn the basics of the language (“yes”, “no” “fire”) and flail your arms, you’re safe.

2. When You Go Home, You Might Not Find Your Old Favourite Coffee Shop

There’ll always be another one – change isn’t always bad. The waterfront, local landmarks and the natural environment probably won’t be going anywhere!

3. You’ll Become A Human FOREX Calculator

Price tags have to be converted to local currency. So how many rupees will that many pounds cost you?

4. You’re Running Out Of Space On Your Travel Wall

You’ll have to move into a bigger house to fit all of those photos you’ve taken. Just make sure you can get them off when it’s time to go home – and always leave some space for future adventures.

5. You Probably Brought Too Much Stuff

Open suitcase on bed

Saving everything seemed like a great idea when you were leaving home. You’ll definitely need that, after all. But did you? Do you actually use that lamp? That expired mouthwash? The paperweight? Let’s be honest here – if you haven’t unboxed it yet, you’re probably never going to.

6. Voltage Adapters

Even if you do want to use that lamp from home, you’ll probably need to go out and buy a converter just to plug it into the wall. It’s okay – you’ve probably got about fifty thousand of them by now. Just don’t leave the house without one or you’ll have to take a trip to the store for number fifty thousand and one.

7. No-One Sells Your Favourite Food

Don’t worry – you’ll learn to love local food soon enough. You might be lucky enough to find a specialist import shop.

8. Immigration Processes

Oh we know – visa renewals are a nightmare.

9. They Want How Much!?

Flights home are always just that bit more expensive than you’re comfortable with. That’s if your Visa conditions allow it. Keep your eyes out for deals! Sometimes time flexibility really pays off!

10. Try Opening A Bank Account – We Dare You.

If you thought Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace was too long you’re in for a rough surprise. And it’s not nearly as interesting. Not that War and Peace ever was.

11. Permanent Residence

I hope you love paperwork and hold music. Applying for permanent residency involves a lot of it.

12. You Can Pack a Suitcase Faster Than Anyone You Know

The Guinness World record time for packing a suitcase is one minute and six seconds. We’re led to believe that they were an expat too. You can always accept the challenge. But try not to bother packing that expired cold medicine you think will always come in handy.

13. Your Facebook “Places I’ve Been” Map is Looking Pretty Diverse

If you can still distinguish the individual location icons then you’re not keeping pace with the pack!

14. You Might Forget Where You Are When You Wake up in the Mornings

There’s always a weird feeling of disorientation when you open your eyes. Are you still in the UK? Or did you move again to Australia? Hm. Walk outside and feel the temperature – you should be able to gauge your rough location from it.

15. Hello, Tech Support?

Trying to get help with devices that you bought at home is always a nightmare. Unfortunately no-one in your locale has heard of that brand or retailer, but have you tried restarting it? Is it plugged in? Ah okay, just post it back for two years. Sometimes it’s easier to just give up and buy a new one.

16. You Used To Be Scared Of Change – Now You Thrive On It

Consistent relocation makes you a more adaptable and open minded person. Embrace new environments! You won’t ever take things for granted again.

17. Skype

Mother And Daughter On Laptop

This is so great that you’re happy to forget sliced bread was even a thing. Nothing beats having a conversation with loved ones. Keeping in touch with them can stop you from feeling isolated and homesick. It pays to invest in a good webcam and mic too.

18. “Your Accent Is Different”

I’m not sure if you’ve been told this, but your speaking mannerisms are different from the locals. Many expats are shocked by this fact – after all, no-one ever points it out. Be prepared for stereotypes too. If you’re from Australia, you’re expected to have tamed a kangaroo.

19. Coins

It’s nice to have insignificant change from all over the world. Don’t lose it though – a million dollars is made of pennies. 100 million pennies. So it must be worth keeping them, right? Just keep them on your night stand, in your wallet and in your couch cushions.

20. You’ve Got Friends All Over The Globe

You’ll always have someone to stop in and see on your travels. Having different friends from different cultures makes you more empathetic and insightful.

21. There’s Too Much Month Left At the End of the Money

This happens to all of us – life definitely gets expensive. Make sure you have something saved away. Try and send a little home every now and then too.

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