I’d never thought I’d be an “expat” even if I have siblings living abroad. I’d always heard that immigration is difficult especially in a country with a culture that is so much different from ours. Not only that, life in another country would mean doing the household chores by yourself since hiring a maid is very expensive.
Before I married my husband, we had to negotiate on a lot of things. I was enjoying my life as a single woman earning some moolah and with plans to boot (CPA, MBA and law school). I thought that watching TV programs, reading and listening to people’s stories, and even attending seminars would be enough for me to easily adapt in my new country’s cultures. Boy was I wrong!
Immigration doesn’t just mean getting a visa to a country of your choice. It means so much more like learning how things are done in your new country, adapting to those ways and even forgetting what you’ve been used to. Here in South Korea, the most difficult factor in the first few months of my “expat life” is the language. I couldn’t function without my husband interpreting for me. I also had to adjust to eating three rice meals a day with almost the same side dishes each time. And of course, there are customs that are new to me.
I’ve been an expat for six years and every day is an opportunity to learn something. Even those who came before me and had lived here for more than a decade are still learning. When you are an expat, do you really need to adapt to your new country? Of course! No one should expect the people of a country (especially one that boasts of its 5,000 year history) to totally accomodate an immigrant. Immigration can be daunting at first but it’s also a life rewarding and life changing event.