Living Overseas

 

Introduction

What are the benefits of living overseas?  You can only appreciate this if you have done it.  We did this in 1979-1980 when I went on study leave and completed a PhD at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

What did we learn?

  • You examine everything you own before you go overseas.
  • You re-evaluate your identity.
  • You meet new people in a new culture which challenges you.
  • You have to learn new things.
  • You appreciate the importance of international currency
  • You experience the joys of beautiful sites and places
  • You evaluate Australia and its leadership

Let’s explore these things in detail.

What did we learn?

 1.       Getting rid of clutter

 It is likely that when you live overseas for a longer period, you need to rent out your house.  This gives you the opportunity to evaluate everything you own and to get rid of clutter and excess “stuff”.  Usually you haven’t done this before as you believe you never have the time or the inclination and certainly not the motivation.  What a gift to clean out your life and your home because “stuff” is equal to your view of your life.  How freeing this is to create more “space”.

 2.       Re-evaluation of your identity

When you live overseas you are taken out of your familiar environment:  close relationships; influence of extended family, friends, colleagues and organisations you belong to; and other influences in your community.  This creates an opportunity to be who you were meant to be and to re-evaluate how you see yourself and the world.  It also allows you to assess how you have been using your time and explore new opportunities and possibilities because you are cut off from those who may have had a controlling influence in your life - it enables you to evaluate the fundamental things which you were taught.  It will also help you to challenge the paradigms that have influenced you and whether they are true or not.

3.       Meeting new people

The very act of placing yourself in a new culture can be both very freeing and also very challenging.  It all depends on what your attitude is and how you respond.  You can have the attitude that this is a great opportunity to learn new things, build new relationships and enjoy the time away.  Alternatively, you can believe the opposite and spend your time being unhappy and resentful instead of having an attitude of gratitude.

4.       Learning

Learning a wide range of new things has a powerful impact on your own personal development and ability to change.  For me these new experiences included such things as:

  • Learning to drive on the other side of the road.
  • Living and driving in an ice and snow environment.
  • Adapting to wearing different clothes because of the weather.
  • Attending doctoral classes in a new university.  This was such a rich experience because of the breadth and depth of the course, the range of knowledge and expertise of the professors, and working with a doctoral committee of five professors.
  • Our three children went to two different schools which opened up another range of activities and relationships.
  • We attended two different churches whilst we were there and Marie was involved in a quilting group, another source of learning.
  • We needed to learn and experience new customs eg Thanksgiving and Independence Day
  • We found ourselves involved in new sports eg University of Nebraska had the top College football team in the USA at that time and we attended every home match.
  • We had to learn some finer details of language:
    -  Our boot is their trunk
    -  Our bonnet is their hood
    -  Our scones are their biscuits
    -  Our biscuits are their cookies
    -  Our lift is their elevator
    -  Our tunic is their jumper
    -  Australian women breastfeed, American women nurse
    It can be quite embarrassing too.  My daughter said to someone, “We worked like Trojans yesterday!”  This evoked a lot of laughter – little did she realise it was a well-known brand of condoms!

5.         International currency

When we were in the USA in 1979-1980, $1.00 AU was equal to $1.17 US.  How the times have changed!  You learn first-hand how to appreciate international currency. 

6.         Visiting new places

During our time in the USA we visited many new beautiful places and sites of international significance including:  Niagara Falls; New York; The Grand Canyon; Hoover Dam; Mount Rushmore; Las Vegas; Cape Canaveral; the Gateway Arch in St Louis and of course Disneyland, Disneyworld, Worlds of Fun, Deadwood and Wall Drug.  How enriching these experiences were.

7.         Evaluation of Australia

When we were living in the USA there was very little about Australia in the media.  It helped us evaluate what Australia is, what it was and what it has become.  Australia is a great country but not a great nation.  It reinforced to me how decisions that have been made have been based solely on spending money and not based on vision, purpose and a great set of values.  How idiotic it is for any country to have politicians in power reporting to and governed by a political party with its biases, conflict of interests and mediocrity.  No wonder we face severe problems.

Conclusion

I can only recommend to you, the reader, that you consider living overseas for a period of time.  It has the potential to change your live as it did ours.  We have never been the same having lived and seen the sun rise and set on the other side of the world.