People often think when you move to another country, life will be amazing with a lot of free time but the rewarding experiences to live overseas can sometimes be crowded out by the inevitable struggles that come with the full expat life package. From the moment you leave your country your old life does not exist anymore and once arrived in Vietnam you will probably experience some of these changes.
Adrenaline become part of your life
The moment you live in Vietnam, your life turns into a powerful mix of emotions, learning, improvising, dealing with the unexpected. All your senses sharpen up. New concepts, new places, new challenges, new habits, new people. Starting new should terrify you, but that’s unusually and deliciously addictive…
Speaking another language just doesn’t happen overnight
Struggling with the language will become your reality when living abroad. It’s not because you are changing your geographic location that it will boost your language learning skills. In fact, you will continuously learn and unlearn language as you’re soaking up yourself in cultural references in one language and swear in your natal language. In the end, you will no longer speak correctly one particular language.
Becoming friends with locals can be hard sometimes
Making local friends abroad isn’t as easy as one might think. Expats tend to mingle with other expats mostly. Become friends with local will ask time and effort to emerge in their culture, but fortunatelly, Vietnamese people are extremly friendly and open on foreign cultures specially in big town like HCMC.
Normal ? What’s normal?
Travelling makes you realize that ‘normal’ only means “socially or culturally accepted”. Every culture has it’s clear distinctions between what is acceptable and what’s not. When you discover a new society with a new culture, your notion of normality soon falls apart because you learn that there are other ways of doing things.
Time is measured differently
Your new life passes by at full speed, and it becomes harder and harder to measure things by the calendar.
You learn to say goodbye, lose friends and enjoy yourself
While living aboard, you will inevitably miss old friends’ weddings, invitations, meet up and contacts and when you are an expat, you also see your new friends leaving regularly. Sadly, the price you’ll have to pay for your decision to live abroad is to learn to lose. You will understand that most of the people are just passing and you will have to find a balance between nostalgia and pragmatism.
Yes, you will also get ill, and that’s a lot worse than at home
Getting seriously sick sucks when you live in Vietnam. You need to speak the language to find a good doctor and get good treatment and medicine and you better have an excellent medical assurance too. Fortunately, big town provides excellent vietnamese and foreigner health establisments.
You become more sensitive to others
Because you face stressful situations or cultural clashes, you become more aware and sensitive to other people.
Work Can Be Just as Boring as it was before
We always think that working abroad is exciting, but you learn that work is just as boring when you’re abroad.
Scheduling phone calls across differents time zones is a regular pain
Because even after explaining to your friends that you live five or six hours ahead they will continue to call you at 3 am.
Once in Vietnam, you miss your family, yes, but…
You start to forget what made your family so annoying when you left your country, but when you are back, they start to get on your nerves pretty quickly.
Conversions and exchange rates are always on your mind
That’s the deal!
« Routine » is not a word you know anymore and anything seems possible
Whatever was predictable before has now been removed as a vague possibility. In fact, when you embrace the Vietnamese culture, you come to consider as a miracle if something happens the way you once thought it should happen. Once you understood that, anything can be possible!
2 Become your lucky number
You have 2 of everything. Two SIM cards or 2 phones, two bank account, two types of money, two library cards, etc.
You become a tourist in your city
Because everybody wants to come in Vietnam, friends and family will come to visit you, and you will become quickly the tour operator of the town you are living in.
You learn the word « patience » and how to ask for help
When you live in Vietnam, the simplest task can become a huge challenge. Bureaucracy and paperwork are the devils sometimes, knowing where and how to get somewhere, finding the right word… There’s always moments of distress, who teach you patience and to accept to ask for help if necessary.
Nostalgia strikes when you least expect it
The food, smell, a song, the smallest thing can overwhelm you with homesickness, and sometimes you are ready to give anything to go back to your country even just for an instant.
You meet in Vietnam a multitude of people and professional oportunities you would never meet in your home country
One of the most extraordinary advantages of being an expat in Vietnam is to have the possibility to meet easyly a myriad of differents people and professional oportunities you would never otherwise have met.
Finally, expat life in Vietnam is easier than most of the people thing. It’s challenging, oddly humorous, exhausting sometimes and empowering but so terribly exciting and enriching!