As you guys probably know by now that while I haven’t travelled nearly as much as I want to, I’ve still done my fair share of it, but there is a big difference between visiting a country and living in one. Sunday marked 9 years since my family and I moved to South Africa, and it made me really think about what it means to call a place home.
There’s More To Travelling Than Tourist Attractions
Now, this seems obvious, but it’s quite incredible to suddenly realise how much more there is to a city or a town than the one thing that makes it well known. Living in a country other than your own makes you look for the normal places that people hang out in – you can’t live in the chain restaurants and famous landmarks. Often the places that you find – the tiny art galleries, and local coffee shops where everyone knows everyone, and the markets that everyone hangs at every weekend – are so much better than the places you’ll see in travel magazines. These are the places that you show to tourists, and friends who visit – because before you know it, you become one of the regular customers everyone knows.
The best part is when you suddenly realise no one realises that you haven’t always been there, because it feels like you have.
Just Because It’s Different Doesn’t Mean That It’s Bad
Every country has it’s own culture, and ever town within that country has a slightly different version of that culture, which means that everywhere you go is going to be a completely new experience. Living in a new country means that you have to adjust to this change – and also adjusting to the fact that you can’t just quickly pop back to your own culture whenever you like. Sometimes it can be difficult, if the culture and traditions are very different to your own, but as long as you keep an open mind it is an incredible experience to do things from other cultures. You are introduced to new things you might not have tried, and have more insight into how other people think and live.
Thinking In Another Language
This is a cool one. If you move to another country, chances are you might have to learn another language and that’s a big thing. When I first arrived in South Africa and joined a school, I not only had to take Afrikaans but Xhosa as well. I hated it while I was in school, because all the other kids had been doing those languages for years – some growing up speaking them at home. Now I wish that I had paid more attention in Xhosa because it’s such a beautiful language. Living in South Africa, where we have 11 official languages (yes, 11) you are constantly surrounded by beautiful languages that you don’t understand and wish you did. Embrace the beauty of knowing another language – connect to more people – it’s a beautiful thing.
Meeting New People
One of the most difficult things about moving to a new country is leaving behind the life you had – which of course includes all of your friends, and sometimes even your family. It can be difficult to get out of your comfort zone and approach new people, but I encourage you to do so – make new friends, meet their friends, say hi to people in coffee shops that look interesting and you might be surprised what happens. The friendships that you make while adjusting to a new life are very important because they will have got you through some difficult times and new experiences. These are the friendships that last.
In a new country you can be whoever you want. There aren’t going to be people there who remember what you were like in Primary school or that one time you messed up your high school graduation speech and it was really embarrassing. They won’t know about your awful scene kid phase or the time you chopped all your hair off and only listened to country music – you can start anew. If you always wanted to do something, you have the freedom to do it, and in a completely new country with completely new opportunities. You can start fresh, and be whoever you want to be.
You also gain a lot of respect for other people, other cultures and another way of living.
Those are my top reasons why moving to a new country is something to be celebrated, and though it is always difficult at first and you might wish you hadn’t done it, and you might just want to move back home – it’s worth sticking with it. You might even end up developing some major wanderlust like me.