When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Why Being An Expat Is The Absolute Best And The Absolute Worst

Being an expat can be the most amazing experience in the world — and the hardest. From fantastic new friends to feeling far from home, find out just how simultaneously difficult and awesome life abroad can be!

Why Being An Expat Is The Absolute Best And The Absolute Worst

Young woman opening her arms towards the sunrise.

iStock.com/lzf

Sponsored content

Getting to Travel the World

Why it's the best: I wrote a letter to myself when I was in my early twenties, to be opened in ten years. The decade has yet to pass, but the only thing I remember writing was that I hoped to be well-traveled. And if moving to Europe has given me anything, it has certainly been the ability to travel. I've lost track of how many cities and countries I've been able to visit (before the pandemic hit, at least). With 25+ vacation days per year, as well as reliable/affordable trains, planes, and buses, I've seen more in the past five years than I ever could have if I had stayed in the US.

Why it's the worst: The more you see of the world, the more you want to see. But having the opportunity to travel is also counteracted by wanting to go home. Having to choose between seeing your loved ones and going to a fantastic new place is not an easy decision.

Making New (and International) Friends

Why it's the best: Living in Munich, I've been lucky enough to make friends from around the world. When you live far from your family, friends become your lifelines — they're who you call when you need to move apartments for the fifth time and can't rent a car because your license doesn't transfer. They're the ones calling the tax office on your behalf because your German isn't nearly good enough to understand terms like Einkommenssteuererklärung (income tax return).

Why it's the worst: International friends often leave. It's not easy being the one left behind while all your amazing new besties move away. And while hopefully you've been able to maintain your friendships back home, they can't join you for a drink at your favorite cafe or commiserate with you over the lack of air conditioning in Germany.

Having Amazing Experiences and Expanding Your Worldview

Why it's the best: Since moving abroad I've lost track of the number of times I've had an "oh my gosh, I cannot believe this is my life" moment. Whether it's something as exciting as watching Germany win the World Cup after I first moved to Munich, or simply walking around one of my favorite neighborhoods on a sunny day, hearing people speak German, French, Spanish, and more. Truly experiencing life in a foreign country provides you with so many little moments that make you appreciate it.

Why it's the worst: I'm a very different person than I was before living abroad, thanks in large part to the many experiences I've had and the challenges I've faced. Living abroad has made me see the world differently, and I wouldn't change it for anything. However, the "downside" of going through these changes is that they are difficult to explain to people who haven't had the same experience.

When I'm in Germany I refer to the US as home, but when I'm back in the US I find myself referring to Munich as home. It's both a beautiful and difficult thing to have two homes, like having two best friends that can never connect, that you have met at different points in your life. Each one means something special to you, and you've had experiences with both that you couldn't duplicate with the other.

At the end of the day though, I wouldn't trade the experience I've had living abroad for anything. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to make this choice and to be able to continue to choose this life. And my friends and family have encouraged me more than they'll ever know. So, if you ever get the chance to move abroad, I'd certainly suggest giving it a go!

Want to connect with other expats? Join InterNations, the largest community for people living and working abroad with over 4.2 million members.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

How India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

A woman walking through dense fog in New Delhi

*Saumya Kalia

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ