Friday, 9 November 2012

Leaving

Apparently, people disappointed by the recent election results in the USA are so upset they are thinking of leaving the country. I know just how they feel. I was greatly dismayed when Bush won re-election and and also decided migration was a good course of action.

If you want to move, I strongly encourage you to go for it. Not because it effects me, I'm already abroad and you'll vote from wherever you are, but because immigration is an excellent opportunity for personal growth. It's also a logistical challenge but manageable. Don't let property concerns stop you! I own a house full of furniture, but found very reliable tennants.

Where to move? I wanted someplace adequately foreign and distant but that wasn't bewlidering. I was fairly monolingual. My first choices were EU countries where English is not the dominant first language. I won't lie: the language gap of living in France was extremely challenging. I've ended up living in England and, although this is not because of language, it is really a luxury and a relief to be able to communicate in my native language.

Those of you who have political issues now will have additional concerns, of course. Basically, every developed and many developing coluntries have socialist prgrammes in place, such as healthcare. Still, one of the privileges of being an immigrant is that bizarre or poor chloices of your host country are not your problem. You're just a guest. Don't let naysayers stop you when they point out your choice country is lead by an atheist or has social programmes you disapprove of. There is no stable country that has a libertarian government which means that there is no utopia to go to. So what? We live in an imperfect world and you can at least get away from the meltdown of your own homeland.

My advice is to start thinking about how you might immigrate and where you might go. Do you have skills that are in demand? Does your employer have overseas operations? Is there an educational program you can enroll in? (Some countries do not charge fees for students and may even cover your living expenses, although this is pretty socialist and there are usually age restrictions.) Look out for fellowships for career development as many of these are industry funded. Some countries will allow Americans to set up businesses, so if you own a bakery here, you could instead have one there. Many countries have shortages of people in skilled trades, like plumbers and nurses. Some just have demographic worries and will take anybody willing to work. If you're American, there is definitely a country that will take you!

Once you arrive, don't ghetto-ize! It's a good idea to make some American friends where you go, as they'll celebrate Thanksgiving with you and can help show you the ropes, but make sure to have non-American friends as well. Expats who live entirely in American bubbles seem to get kind of bitter. And no wonder as they are perpetually in between places, niether in America or fully in their new country. Remember, whether your migration is temporary or permanent, you will live where you live. Try to have at least half your friends be non-American and at least a few native friends. There will be people around who want to practice their English or who have experience of living abroad and will have empathy for your moments of confusion. Join a local church. Meetups are also a good way to meet people.

It took me a couple of years to organise my move, so don't worry if you can't rush. Moving abroad isn't easy, but it can be very rewarding. Your ancesgtors thought so! Give it a go.

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