When I moved away from Norway like a decade ago, I discovered a whole new world which eventually helped me realize that I am fortunate and blessed to be able to seek knowledge, and to become a global citizen rather than just a representative of my country. I honestly believe that living in another country for a little while, whether it’s a few months or a few years; is something everyone with the means to do so should consider. There’s no better way, after all, to examine and understand your own culture than to live outside of it.
I've actually lost track of the number of times where people have expressed to me their desire to live and work in foreign countries like I have done. I agree that much of the time being an expat is great fun, as you get to experience different cultures, meet different types of people, take pretty pictures, learn new languages and taste exotic foods. The downside of course is that you’ll miss your family but thanks to expat salaries and the concessions that come with them - you will likely have the means to visit those who are close and dear to you.
So anyway – being an expat basically means that I’m an International person who lives outside my native country. What differentiates me from for instance an immigrant is the fact that people become immigrants when they decide to permanently adopt a new nationality. An expat on the other hand is only an expat as long as they reside outside their native country and choose to keep their nationality. It’s supposedly a temporary thing, or in my case a long term solution. I find it comforting to live in any given society with the knowledge that it may not be my final destination.
Until now, I have never found myself fully integrated into a society that I live in. I constantly feel like I have one foot in my host culture and the other foot is still trying to hold on to my values and habits originating from my home culture. But the thing is - I don’t want to live in Norway at the moment, yet I am not by any means willing to give up my Norwegian citizenship. I like to pick and choose which parts of the host culture I want to part-take inn. I don’t need to permanently integrate and limit myself by a country's border.
My best advice to anyone who is considering to become an expat is to just set aside all your preconceptions of what you can and cannot do.. and just go for it. It’s a scary thing to tear yourself away from the unknown but it’s also the most rewarding thing ever.