I’ve lived in 7 countries - some for a long time (over 15 years) and some for a short time (just 1 year). I know that I’m not the same person that I was when I left the UK on the night boat for Denmark back in the early 1980s. Living abroad has changed me, has opened my eyes to different perspectives. It has given me the confidence to know that I can move on, I can make a new life, I can deal with change and the difficulties that come from being in unfamiliar situations. I’ve always said that having done it once - having gone to Denmark by myself without knowing more than 1 person in the entire country (and then doing the same later in the USA and India) - I could go anywhere. Moving overseas has given me the knowledge that I can cope by myself - in fact I can do more than simply cope: I can make a new and good life for myself in unfamiliar surroundings.
This is one of the things highlighted in this article in the Huffington Post about living abroad, that you learn about you. When I was teaching in the UK it was safe and comfortable. I guess I could have gone on like that forever, because as the saying goes “you don’t know what you don’t know”. I accepted things because I didn’t know any different. Now that I have seen things in another light I know it would be hard to go home again permanently. Despite the fact that I know I would love being closer to family, I think I would find the whole experience too narrow, too parochial. I’m used to wider horizons.
I have friends in the same situation. We talk about where we will eventually end up. None of us really has a clue. The world is a big place and I’m not sure I could settle in just one corner of it now. The genie is out of the bottle and it’s not going to go back in again any time soon without a struggle. I really do feel that I could live ANYWHERE.