Lessons we’ve learned since moving abroad and being on the go in a foreign country….
After needing a change, Jon and I took a drastic step. We dropped our lives in Canada and moved abroad to Chile (a country neither of us have ever been to before). Since this, there are 3 major lessons I think everyone should know whether planning to move abroad or not….
1) Re-evaluate your clothes:
Since moving I realized that clothes packing is something I’m not very good at…at all. In the frenzy of moving I somehow decided 6 pairs of yoga pants thrown into a suitcase when you’re trying to remain minimalist made sense. Not really. Upon moving I packed about 1/3 of the total clothes I had to come down with us initially. Once getting hear, I split that number in half again. Carrying 1/6 of the clothes I own, I still have way too much! And I was never a shopaholic to begin with. All the “what-ifs” clothes I packed all remained in their folded state. Zero of these “what-ifs” happened, except for one….”What if I packed way too many clothes?” You loose space, your shoulders ache from your heavy pack, you just cannot bring yourself to buy any of the cool clothes made by locals because where the heck will you put them?? This was all a huge lesson for me. Not for only when I’m packing but for when I’m buying clothes now. Instead of looking at one facet of the clothes, the appearance, which most of us do. I realized the real question to ask is how good will this be at being multi-purpose. Sure, you need a nicer dress here and there in case you want to wedding crash while you’re on the move, but otherwise think outside of the box. What different ways can I use these pair of pants? One of my favourite places for finding gems like these is Mountain Equipment Coop. I don’t know who the genius guy they hired is but they are coming out with more and more clothes that are a hybrid between a hiking pant and a casual going out pant. Yes, these may be more expensive than a pair of jeans but hey, now you’ve got “two” pairs of pants for the price of one! Not too shabby. So when starting that packing process, try to filter out the “what-ifs”, pack the multi-purpose clothes, and the one’s you pushed to the side and have worn maybe once in the last month…consider donating. Someone else might wear that shirt 3 times a week rather than 3 times a year.
See our post all about thinning out all your stuff!!!
2) Be (more) outgoing!:
It’s hard not to stay in your little shell when you first arrive somewhere. I don’t know the language. Clearly I’m a “gringa” (foreigner). I don’t know what is considered rude here or polite. Will people think I’m weird? The only way to surpass all of this is to get out of your shell, ironically enough. The best way to learn a language is to submerge yourself in it. They will always think
youre a gringa unless you join them in their activities. People know you’re not a local off the bat, so likely if you do some sort of “taboo” it won’t be considered rude but a good laugh instead. And the only thing weird is if you’re in a country and too scared to interact with the locals aka 99.9% of the people around you. Jonathan and I were found in a kitchen one night with a bottle of vino. Excited to open it but a rookie mistake (we don’t drink too often) we didn’t think when buying it, that to open it w would need a corkscrew. So two options: stare at the untouched bottle of wine for the next 2 weeks of our stay OR walk 5 steps over to the neighbour’s door, knock, and politely ask for a corkscrew. But what if she’s sleeping? (at 7pm…really?) But what if she doesn’t understand English? (hand motions can take you a long way…I mean there’s whole game on that…charades!) What if it’s rude? (wanting to drink wine from one of the biggest wine countries in the world? I’m sure the locals would actually be proud of you.) So I put my grown up pants on, walked out with the bottle of wine and came back in with a corkscrew in hand. And all though it was a pretty shitty corkscrew (ask Jon how many calories he burned trying to open this bottle), I met an extremely nice woman with the cutest pup, and we were able to enjoy our much anticipated wine. So stop burdening yourself with the paralysis by analysis and just go for it! What’s the worst that can happen? The answer to that question is often not as horrific as you think, and rarely does it actually ever come true!
3) Get involved:
We have repeatedly said that one of the things we have enjoyed the most about this country so far is the people. The way people welcome you and try lending a hand in anyways has almost been off setting. In Canada, we are known as the “overly polite, kind, innocent people” which some may say in other words, “kind”. Sure it’s not rude, but I don’t know if I would classify it as kind. Here the people reach out to you. They make a valiant effort to see what they can do for you to help make you a happier camper. We’ve had an old Mama Seeta like woman at a bus stop that read right through our confused faces and asked in Spanish where we needed to go, after pointing on a map, she did the wave of “ah! No problem” and went to work. Every bus that pulled up on the busy street she would quickly shuffle her legs over to, stick her head in the window and ask the driver some questions. By the end, she got us on the right bus and bid us farewell with two nice pats on the back and a smile! Or even the guy at the local tostadaria (nut, quinoa, and mix-ins shop). After trying to order some peanuts in Español, he
read write through my sad attempt at rolling my “R’s” and softening my vowels. He gave me a smile and asked where I was from. He started up a broken conversation in English and scooped a handful of sugar coated nuts (sure not the healthiest, but darn did they taste yummy!!) and talked about his journey on trying to learn English. There’s many more of these humbling stories but the main point is they all became big news flashes for me. Looking back of when I was in Canada, I rarely reached out to foreigners. Of course, if I had ran into one and they asked me for help I would do so but I never went out of my way to make them feel really comfortable or welcomed in our country. The Chileans are often even on the Chile foreigner Facebook groups in order to answer everyone’s questions. They invite you over to close knit family dinners. So wherever you are, if you’re in your home country, try making a solid effort to reaching out to people new in the country. See if there are Facebook groups you can join to lend some of your local knowledge in. Research and see if there are meeting groups for travellers or people who just moved to the area. Or even try posting an extra room you might have up on Airbnb.com.