I hope this is not your reality on a regular basis, but I can almost guarantee that on some level many of you deal with the questions and comments about your life abroad from loved ones. OK, for sure some people are just interested, but then there are the naysayers. The ones who question why you are “wasting” your potential living in a foreign country when you could be home settling down.
When I first moved abroad it seemed as if everyone was interested in what I was doing. A year in a new country has some kind of excitement associated with it, but after a year the doubting comments and questions started rolling in. Of course it is difficult to deal with at times. Nobody wants to dissappoint their family or friends.
Here are some of the questions people ask which we’ve all probably heard before and how to respond.
Wouldn’t you feel better moving home where it is safe?
Unfortunately crimes against foreigners abroad are played up in the media a lot. I’m not saying that they are not valid concerns, because at times they can be. I have felt unsafe at times in foreign countries, but I have also felt unsafe in my home country. I believe bad things can happen anywhere and you need to be prepared for that. It’s a part of being responsible for your own well being.
What you can respond: “No, bad things can happen anywhere and I feel perfectly safe where I am.”
Wouldn’t you be able to get a better job if you moved back home?
I may be in somewhat of an unusual situation here because I quit my job to start this website and saw almost zero profits for the first year (which most people thought was crazy to do), but I believed in myself and pulled through. Anyway, even before I started this site and was teaching English abroad I was confronted with these questions. I’m not going to say they didn’t affect me. That would be a blatant lie, but when I really thought about it, the life experience I was gaining by living abroad far outweighed any career experience that I felt I needed. It’s sometimes difficult but I try to remind myself that everyone is on their own timeline. So yes, maybe you would be able to get a better job back home, but for what? Is that going to bring you a happier more fulfilled life? Probably not.
What you can respond: Career is not everything to me. I enjoy my job abroad and it allows me the freedom to travel to places I would never see if I moved home. That is more important to me.
When are you going to get married and have kids?
This question bothers me so much. I’m happy to be completely transparent here. My boyfriend and I will get married when we feel we have enough money to have the wedding we want to have. As far as kids go, neither of us want children now. Even though I’m more than happy to be completely open about it, not everyone feels the same way. You never know what kind of struggles in a relationship or with fertility that someone deals with and to ask questions like this is just unfair.
What can you respond: If people ask you this question and you don’t feel comfortable answering I suggest being completely honest and saying, “Thank you for your concern, but it has nothing to do with you.”
I wish I had your life
Obviously this is not a question, but still a comment I hear frequently enough. These are the ones that make me feel really sad sometimes. People genuinely wish they could move abroad and don’t understand that they can. In fact, this comment was one of the main reason I started The Wanderlanders. I wanted to create a space that would help young people realize that they had the potential to move abroad.
Of course there are certain circumstances that would make this lifestyle very difficult. I am blessed to be healthy and to have a healthy family. If someone in my family was very sick and needed me I would most likely move home. If I needed constant medical treatment I would also move home because I know I am from a city with excellent hospitals.
My boyfriend and I built this life up after being together for only a few months. Was it easy? Nope. Not at all, but it was so worth it.
If you are one of those people saying “I wish I had your life,” leave me a comment and we’ll talk. I’m happy to help any of you out.
What can you respond: “You can. If I can do it you can as well. Let me know if you need some advice and I’ll help you out.”
The questions can make your life abroad very difficult at times. Of course we all want to please our family and friends. It’s also important to remember they just want the best for you and they most likely only make these comments because they miss you. I find making sure I see them multiple times a year definitely helps. Also, my family loves to come visit me in whatever country I’m living in. Maybe your fam and friends will as well!
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