My name is Raymond Lee. I’m a logistician and a writer, and because of the latter qualification I’ve been asked by TeachAfar to contribute to their blog about the joys and difficulties of living abroad. I’ve had a number of occupations over the years which have taken me all over the world. I wanted to share with you my personal experiences and perspectives on living abroad, along with a few tips on what you can expect when you make the decision to get out there.
To begin with I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I was part of a military family and we spent several years of my early life living in Germany before returning to the US. My family settled in a small farming community in Western Illinois. I could list any number of reasons why I decided to leave the US: boredom, political antipathy, and frustration at small town life. But none of that’s important. What is important–what will help you if you’re considering a life abroad– is the fact I made the decision to leave. So at 19 I left the US and moved to Paris to live the life I only ever read about in books.
I was completely unprepared. I spoke only English, held no visas, had no trade or discernable skills, didn’t understand the language, and had a limited amount of money. It was a very difficult time in my life from which all of my best travelling stories originate. Despite the troubles, it was also the absolute best time of my life. I went from the desolate prairies of the Midwest to the cultural center of the universe. I won’t misinform you, I lost weight, but heroin chic is a good look on me. I did, however, pick up a language, made numerous life long friends, and gained the knowledge that if dropped anywhere in the world I could get by. It was a real Walden Pond learning experience, and it has helped me get to where I am now. Without a college degree I earn six figures and travel the world for both business and pleasure. Using that first experience as a springboard, I would periodically make the move abroad several more times in addition to shorter trips to places around the globe that intrigued me. At present it’s been over two years since I last stepped foot on American soil.
Over the coming weeks I will address several issues common to life abroad. I’ll draw off my own experiences, and at the salty age of 35, some of the issues I see with younger expats I encounter in my personal and professional life. I’ll address quality of life aspects, creating friendships, understanding culture, finding commonalities, along with incredibly boring practical aspects like resident/working visa processes, banking/currency exchange, and navigating political atmospheres. I have almost no agenda, but as the resident travel guru I am accepting topics and themes for which you, dear reader, need clarification. My first blog post after this introductory message will concern why you should travel. I won’t lie because my meager TeachAfar fee and full editorial freedom means I don’t need to, but a life abroad is not for everyone. It should only be undertaken by people fully prepared to abandon the mediocrity of a humdrum workaday life. Excitement, adventure, intimate affairs with exotic, gorgeous foreigners, backdrop scenes your boring friends only see in movies or on the internet, danger, fortune, and a broader world view aren’t for everyone. The weak amongst us need not concern themselves.
Until next week my friends,