How does living abroad make us become richer persons?
...we have more than one home
When I fly back to Europe and someone asks me where I am going, my answer is "home". However, this is also what I think on my way back to Philly. Our hearts belong to more than one place. I consider it a blessing rather than a hardship.
...we speak more than one language
When you expatriate and live abroad for a few years, you will never use only one language again. You speak, you dream and argue in more than one language. And what if you have a kid? Your kid will be at least bilingual. Isn't it an advantage?
... we travel a lot
We are used to traveling. Long distances are not a big deal for us. Well, our savings may suffer but I realized that in comparison to other people, and in comparison to Americans, we definitely travel more. And, our advantage is that even if we travel long distances, it is often because we go back home. That means, no expense for hotels...As I say, for every con there is a pro...
...we are more tolerant now than before (and we are more tolerant than the others)
Facing the cultural differences in interpersonal relationships and at work makes us more flexible, adaptable and tolerant. And what about your attitude to various delicate topics such as multiethnic, multireligious or homosexuality? Living in the US makes us more tolerant because we are exposed to much more diversity. The great mixture of cultures, religions and sexual orientations teaches us not to consider it diversity at all. When I go back to my home country, I realize that some points of view are still too much conservative.
... we know how to struggle in the jungle (or at least we try to)
Finding a job can be tough even in the US. The competition is strong and if you do not have any work experience in the US at all, you may accept positions and do things you did in your home country years ago. We have courage to start from scratch and build something new or start a different carrier path. And when the first results come, the sense of self-reward is all worth it.
... we give the right value to relationships
Since we have two homes, our relationships multiply, too. Maintaining long-distance relationships, affected even by the jet leg, is tough. Our commitment and effort to keep in touch with the old friends while making new ones here make us determined and perseverant. We realize how fragile relationships are when they are not being fed and taken care of relentlessly.
... we take a risk
Novelty is something that characterizes our expat life. At the beginning, everything is new and different but we as well are more open to new things and people. Thank to this experience, we become persons who like trying new things, places, food, talking to strangers and taking a risk. We become more adventurous and less shy, while being stuck in a routine terrifies us.
... we see things from a different perspective
I remember I used to complain or not to consider some apparently unimportant things before. I used to take for granted many things that have become precious to me once I started to miss them in the US. On the other hand, when I am on vacation at home I realize all the positive things about living here. The double perspective makes you appreciate things that you would not otherwise consider.
... we realize that life goes on
Have you expected to go back home on vacation and find your teenage room the same way as it used to be when you moved away? Instead, you come in just to see a beautiful home office or maybe a storage room where there once used to be your bed. Your brothers and sisters do not live in the same apartment anymore, too. And when you come back (maybe during a regular working week) you have to schedule appointments with people instead of them taking holidays just for your arrival ! (just kidding) We realize better than anyone else that life goes on. Also the fact you moved away will become a reality and a part of everyone's life,not yours only.
... we learn how to count on ourselves
When the family is far, you have to learn how to count on yourself only (and on your husband :). Luckily, there are friends who become your family in a way that would not happen back home. New friendships gain a different value.
Apart from this, we feel stronger because we made it all by ourselves only. Our decisions, our choices, our struggle, our victories make us realize how rich we actually are. Richer than before and richer than how we would have been if we stayed.