Apr 1, 2011

Becoming An Expat

I often get email from readers asking questions on what it is like living abroad, how do you do it and how to get started. I think many Americans have a fear of venturing beyond our borders for any extended length of time. That is unfortunate.

For me the experience and sense of adventure has been something many Americans today will never understand, appreciate or value. There was a time though when things were different, the times when people like Robert Lewis Stevenson or Ernest Hemingway wrote tales of faraway lands. Today many think that globalization has made the world a smaller place when in fact just the opposite is the case. Think of what the interstate highway did to route 66 and you will begin to appreciate what I'm saying. The romance and spirit of adventure once associated with the life of an expatriate is no longer appreciated or valued.

We live in a world now where one can jet from New York to Paris and onto Tokyo without experiencing even the slightest bit of cultural dislocation. We imagine an interconnected world made smaller by Facebook and Twitter. For the sanguine traveler today plopping themselves down in a cookie-cutter Starbucks in some exotic locale with a laptop and WiFi and ordering - in English - a caffe latte from the local barista only seems to fuel this illusion of verisimilitude.

Why travel and immerse yourself in a foreign land for the purposes of learning a foreign language when an online translator will serve your purpose. It is the internet, the information superhighway that has now enabled people to become self-proclaimed experts on subjects and locales that they have never heard of, or even visited before. The harsh reality is that in many ways the internet has not enlightened us, but rather stupefied us. It has become like a new religion analogous to the Oracle of Delphi.

Trust me when I tell you that nothing can substitute for the real experience. While it might not be appreciated now like it once was, the life of an expatriate can be fulfilling in ways that you can never imagine. The life isn't for everyone, but if you are seriously thinking about, make the jump and do it. There are a few links on the sidebar regarding life overseas, feel free to click them to learn more.

For some the thought of living overseas is somehow unpatriotic, for me I consider it just the opposite considering how so many in our State Department and much of our mainstream media present a slanted view of what America stands for. If you are a frequent reader of this blog you will know exactly what I mean. You will make a difference, see yourself as John Galt or as a diplomat, but whatever you do, don't believe everything you see on CNN.

What inspired me to write this posts was not only from the email that I get but from an article I recently read entitled Cost of Living in the US Reaches New Record High. I'm sure there are many Americans now who might be having second thoughts about making a move overseas now that their pensions have been cut or are coming to the realization that they are going to have to get by on less and less in the very near future. And so these people might decide to become expats for financial reasons rather than for the experience or for a sense of adventure.

If you are thinking of becoming an expat, I hope you do it for the adventure and experience as well. Take the chance to step off the interstate, there is a big world out there waiting to be discovered.

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