Photo by Travelingmom

Photo by Travelingmom

Quite often during our overseas journey, I stop and think to myself, “what in the heck are we doing?”  And then I’m reminded quite quickly why we’re doing what we’re doing and how great the adventure is.

I write things down constantly…some ideas make it into my articles, and some are just pointless thoughts that would only make me laugh.

One of the lists I’ve had going for some time has now reached 14 items, so I figured it was time to share them with you before it gets way too long and you stop reading!

So here you go, 14 things that remain constant no matter which country we’re living.

1.  Take or Leave the Pets?

This is a hard decision for anyone to make.  I’ll be honest, international relocation of pets is NOT cheap by any means!  Even if you do all of the paperwork yourself, like we did, there are still lots of costs.  Many would say that you can’t put a price on your furry friend, but I’ve also watched others be heartbroken over a surprise relocation and they can’t take their dog due to the $8,000 price tag.  So please, research before you go.

2.  Take it or Leave it

I’ve become really good at deciding what items in our house are important enough to lug to another country, which ones can be donated or chucked and which ones should just stay back in the USA.  You quickly learn what means the most to you, what you value and realize so many other things just weren’t as important as you once thought they were.

Photo by Expat Travelingmom

Photo by Expat Travelingmom

3.  Who is Worth Your Time

This sounds harsh, but you’ll be surprised who stays in your life and who begins to pull away.  It’s a sad reality of being the person moving away from everyone else.  Some people don’t know how to best stay in touch, some are jealous and some just can’t seem to fit the time into their schedule.

4.  Friends Coming and Going

Getting a thick skin is the last thing I wanted when beginning this overseas adventure, but it has slowly grown.  Being a part of an expat community is not easy as people are constantly getting relocated.  Just as you form that awesome bond with your new best friend, you’re saying goodbye at a weekend get together that came way too soon.

5.  Housing

Don’t expect everywhere you move is going to be like home!  You’ll now be among the world of villas, flats, condos and apartments unlike any you’ve known in the USA.  You might have a teeny tiny apartment for the same amount of money you were paying back home, or you might luck out with a massive villa.  It all depends on where you’re heading, so if it’s important to you, check it out online first!

6.  Know Your Time Zones

I laughed watching an episode of “The Amazing Race” in which the contestants couldn’t identify the time zones in a given task. When you’re overseas, it’ll make your life easy if you have a basic idea of the time difference so that you can keep in touch with your friends, family, Twitter parties and business matters back home.  You don’t want to wake up mom with a phone call at 1 a.m.!

7.  Conversions

Being from the U.S., we’re the odd man out when it comes to knowing the metric system.  I wish I knew it better before heading overseas.  Thankfully, I’m getting the hang of it now, and so are my children.  You’ll also make great use of your conversion App on your phone for money.  Eventually, you’ll stop converting back to U.S. dollars, simply thinking in local currency terms.

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Photo by Expat Travelingmom

8.  Geography

If you weren’t great with geography when you were in school, you should brush up before moving overseas.  It helps to know exactly where you are, and it also comes across a lot better when you can acknowledge where the person you just met is from.

9.  Apps To Keep in Touch

When you’re in the USA, it’s pretty easy to stay in touch.  When you move overseas, you begin to realize just how thankful you are to WhatsApp, Text For Free, HeyTell and Skype!

10. Residence

We had lived in the UAE for four years, and on our return flight to the USA, we were asked to fill out our immigration forms which asked for our residency.  It caused us to go blank for a moment, wanting to write down the UAE, but no longer living there.  To make matters more complicated, we were only going to be in the USA for only three weeks and then we’d be moving to Singapore.  We were between countries and resident took on a whole new meaning.

11. Passport vs. Drivers License

When living overseas, your passport becomes so much more important than your driver’s license.  The little card you couldn’t wait to get and carried religiously in your wallet will now get shoved into a drawer and your passport will take center stage.  They’ll ask for it everywhere, especially when you’re getting settled and getting all of your living necessities taken care of.

12.  Love the USA…or Not

We were asked all the time where we were from.  Some people would smile with delight, praising us for how lucky we were to be from the USA.  Others, while not a fan of the USA for political reasons, were still friendly with us.  And others yet didn’t like you nor the USA.  You learn when to show your national pride and when to keep it a little more reserved.

Photo by Expat Travelingmom

Photo by Expat Travelingmom

13.  Changing the Meaning of Family

While your blood relatives are back home and remain your true family, you form another family overseas.  The friends you make become the ones who come to your important events, family celebrations and who are there for you during the hard times.

14.  Patriotism is Not Just the 4th of July

I used to think that the USA had the most patriotism of anywhere I’d known. Then I moved to the UAE.  There is a sense of pride every single day in the UAE.  You are reminded all the time just how proud the people are of their country.