Moving to Colombia

Moving to Colombia, I knew I would encounter a different culture and would need to become proficient in a new language. There would no doubt be many changes in my life and many things to learn. However, the biggest lessons learned have been about myself

Adapting to New Surroundings

Relocating to another country can be overwhelming at first. You transplant yourself from an environment where everything is familiar, to one where nothing is. There is so much to absorb and emotions run the gamut from excitement to frustration. 

I never imagined how I would feel in such a different setting and it didn't take long to find out.

Patience Truly Is a Virtue

Along with my suitcases, I brought a Type-A “get-it-done-yesterday” mindset. Very quickly I discovered the pace of life in Latin America is altogether different.

Bureaucracy feels like an endurance sport. After waiting forever for your turn at a government office, no matter the documents you provide, the process always seems to require “one more thing”.

In the beginning, this can drive you crazy, but as you settle into the rhythm of the new culture, you discover patience is a virtue.

Living Simply Is Easier

Back home there is a dizzying assortment of options for everything from cereal to toilet paper - the sheer abundance of goods and services at grocery stores is almost overwhelming.

All the same options may not exist here, and while initially it can feel frustrating, fewer choices can actually make life easier. Having fewer options can be freeing, as you learn to appreciate what you have, and you begin to live more simply.

Smiles Are the Universal Language

At first, the lack of fluency in the language of your newly adopted country can create awkward situations.

But no matter where you are, a smile is the language everyone understands

You Are More Resilient Than You Know

To help daily activities run smoothly, most people design their lives to minimize challenges and surprises, however, this does little to exercise their resilience “muscles”. Moving to a new country provides countless opportunities to whip that aspect of oneself into shape, because no matter how good is the plan, things frequently go sideways. 

Successful expats are often amazed how flexible and resourceful they have become. We can be hopelessly lost at times - totally confused - and in way over our heads. But you tell yourself: “no matter what, I’m going to make this work.”

Your Country of Origin Looks Different from Afar

Living abroad has changed my perception. On one hand, I feel a greater appreciation for my home nation’s prosperity and efficiency. But after observing the focus on family, happiness, and leisure in other countries, I question the relentless pursuit of accumulation, consumption, wealth, and upward mobility where I came from.

Home Is Where You Are

I have also come to realize personal possessions are only one aspect of what defines a domicile. A residence can be anywhere but the most important thing inside those walls is you.

Now, when people ask me where I live, I reply, “home is where I hang my hat”.

People Are People

It is far too easy to pigeonhole people, and entire nationalities, based on limited stereotypical information. Such biases can even exist within different regions of the same country. However, one of the greatest blessings is experiencing the basic goodness of people, no matter where they live. Throughout my travels, locals have consistently been kind, compassionate, and helpful. 

Did I have to leave my home country to improve on positive traits like humility, patience, simplicity, and kindness? Technically, no, but it is easy to get caught-up in the frenetic energy of a fast-paced society which offers little reward for quiet contemplation.

Over the years, my Spanish has improved as I have integrated into the local culture. The experience has taught me how to be better global citizen and a better amateur radio operator.