13 Questions About Living Abroad
I’ve just hit my 5th month living in Kuwait and I can’t believe how fast time has gone by. Some days it feels like I’m having an out of body experience and I literally have to stop and take a deep breath to accept that – YES I am living in Kuwait, this is real life. I’ll be honest, these last couple of weeks have been harder, I have to shake off the emotions of feeling home sick & continuously remind myself why I’m here. Incredibly grateful to have internet and the ability to FaceTime or WhatsApp chat with my family & friends.
In an effort to focus my attention back to writing & come up with ways in how to share my experience with life abroad I’ve gathered some questions I’ve read in other places or have been asked personally.
If you have ever considered moving abroad or are in the process of making that happen take some time to read through this & set a time aside for you to answer the same questions. If you’re happy with the answers then I think it’s fair to say you’re ready to proceed with your choice of wanting to move abroad.
Get Lost & Find Yourself: 13 Questions About Living Abroad
1) Do you speak the language there?
When I first decided to move to Kuwait I was a little bit worried about how much Arabic I needed to learn, but once I got here I realized that everyone pretty much speaks English and I’ve even been able to find others who speak Spanish or French…or something else. By the way…”everyone” refers to the people I am constantly in contact with, but even if I go to the spa or the mall, someone most likely speaks English.
How comfortable are you with being in a place where you literally can’t read or understand 98% of things?
2) How will you pay for everything?
Moving abroad meant I had to make a big adjustment to my spending habits and lifestyle. I’ve been so accustomed to making a very good amount of money based only tips on a daily basis, literally money coming in everyday I worked.
Prior to moving abroad I saved up as much money as I could. I knew I would have a job once I arrived, but I have had to re-adjust to earning a salary & practice better money-management skills. We get paid once a month and it still takes time to get use to.
Save money & make sure you have a plan: will you be able to get a job, is the job you’re taking going to cover your expenses?
3) Can you stomach the food?
Luckily I’m not a picky eater, so I wasn’t ever worried about the cuisine. To be honest I’ve had a lot of the food in the states prior to moving, so I was a bit familiar. I haven’t had any issues adjusting to the food, plus Kuwait is the capital of chain restaurants…I mean I went to Cheesecake Factory for Thanksgiving (Lol) AND it’s exactly the same as back home.
However, part of learning about a new culture is trying their food. If you’re considering moving abroad and are a picky eater I would highly recommend getting through that “picky stage” before you pack your bags.
By the way, depending where you go, you’ll probably be able to find food from back home, but where is the excitement in that?
4) How are you willing to miss holidays and major life events in your home country?
This was probably one of the hardest decisions to make prior to moving abroad. I’m very close to my family and it scared me to have to be away during the holiday season or any family-events. It helped that my brother & cousin were already in Kuwait but to be honest I still struggle with being far away, but it’s gotten easier…I just have to keep reminding myself why I’m here.
When moving abroad you really have to think about the sacrifices you’re making and for what; as long as you keep that going and put in the effort to communicate with your loved ones things should be fine.
5) Did you already know someone there?
My experience moving abroad hasn’t been totally blind. I’m lucky to know both family and friends that are currently in Kuwait. It’s great because while I worked in Miami I always made it a point to really get to know people, my clients etc, you just never know where life will take you. Luckily I met some Kuwaitis during my time in Miami and they’ve been huge help since I’ve arrived in Kuwait.
I think it’s important to create connections world wide and I’ve been pretty blessed with meeting a GREAT amount of people I still keep in contact with who have connected me to others and so on.
6) How willing were you to immerse yourself into the culture?
I’ve always been intrigued by the Middle Eastern cultures. I have a tattoo written in Arabic, my nickname is Amirah…I’m pretty much a “Arab by association” (lol). No but seriously! Moving to Kuwait was a HUGE change for me, but it’s been a good change. I’ve been 100% open to learning and understanding the culture and I’m trying to learn some Arabic. I love to meet with my clients and ask questions, learn about their day-to-day activities and much more. It’s been really fun totally immersing myself into the culture.
This is HUGE. Wherever you choose to move you better get ready to RESPECT and UNDERSTAND that countries culture. DO NOT go to another country thinking you’re just there temporarily and don’t need to understand anything because it doesn’t concern you – that’s totally the wrong mentally to have.
7) What did you do with all your stuff?
Luckily when I moved from Miami I really didn’t have much stuff so I just dropped it of at my mom’s. I understand I’m quite lucky to be able to do that and you may not have that luxury, so you’ll have to either sell or store your things, depending how important they are to you.
My advice is to really go through what is important and what isn’t and what options you have. How much does storage cost? What are your long term plans? Can you sell some? Consider donations as well: What goes around comes around.
8) How will you adjust to the schedule?
Okay – this was a really big struggle for me and I really struggled to sleep for the first month+. First of all, Kuwait is 8 hours ahead of Miami, so I kept going to sleep on the Miami time-zone and waking up to Kuwait time-zone. Second of all, I’ve been working in nightlife for years, I’m a vampire and me and the sun really don’t get along. I totally switched my schedules, I went from working overnight shifts (10pm-6am) to working (12noon-8pm), so that took a really long time to get use to & honestly if I don’t workout some days, I’ll find myself staying up late nights and having to pay for it the next day.
Adjusting to a new schedule will take time and it may shock your body. Stay hydrated and stay active while adjusting through your new time zone, eventually your body will adjust.
9) How willing were you to give up the little luxuries that you were used to?
My first month in Kuwait was really tough. I didn’t understand how anything worked, I didn’t understand the currency, I was stressed out, I didn’t get why my washer and dryer were so strange, I didn’t like the roads, whatever else you can think of. Finally I stopped being a brat and figured it all out. I’m living slightly better than I’ve ever lived in the states. First of all the company I work for takes care of the necessary expenses. If something breaks in my building I have someone who fixes it, same with the car. I still hate cooking, but I have a gas stove so that makes everything easier (lol).
There are certain things that are really frustrating in Kuwait, like addresses are difficult (area name, street or block house or building etc). Amazon Prime doesn’t deliver to my building because no one knows the exact “perfect” address (lol). When we order food drivers typically get lost. Some things are way more expensive in Kuwait than they are in the States. I could go on, but the point is you just get use to it, and move on.
Part of moving abroad is because we want to change something in our lives. The change isn’t going to be easy but it will be worth it. You have 2 options: Fight or Flight, which one will you choose?
10. How do you keep in touch?
Luckily we live in a world where Wifi and Facetime Exists. The hardest part about staying in touch while living abroad has been the time differences. Kuwait is 8 hours ahead of Miami / Orlando, so sometimes it makes it difficult to have a full on, healthy conversation with my friends & family. Thank God for WhatsApp Messenger I am in constant contact with my best friends and my family. As long as I have internet I’m happy.
11. How has the move affected your love life?
Haha…I had to laugh when I read this question. Honestly the way things happen in Kuwait are really different than back home. For example in the States or Venezuela we are use to just “liking” someone and going out with them. Boy likes girl, girl likes boy, boy ask girl on a date, girl goes on date, the end. The culture here is a bit different. Yes pre-arranged marriages do exist and are very common. It’s not typical for local girls and boys to just go out on “dates” alone and some parents either don’t allow outings period or they’re allowed to go out in groups. I believe a lot has to do with the respect for their culture, families and believes & I also think part of it is that they’re afraid to be judged by their peers or outsiders. This question has several sides to it just remember Kuwait is 90% traditional and 10% liberal…so the love-game may vary from side to side.
Personally, “dating” really hasn’t’ been on my agenda but I think I’m managing to do fairly well for myself the times I’ve been out. (lol).
12) What do you miss most about life in America?
AMAZON PRIME DELIVERY & online shopping.
Ok this makes me sound like a spoiled brat but honestly amazon prime is probably the greatest “thing” in America. It’s just so easy to shop for things without having to complicate your schedule and going to a store. The mail system in Kuwait is kind of shitty and I really haven’t attempted to order anything online because I’m scared it won’t ever make it. Seriously. & just to clarify I have at least 3 different variations of what my “home” address is because no one really knows exactly what it is. (lol). So when someone asks me for my address to send me things “I don’t have one” and when someone asks me for my location to pick me up…I just drop my “pin” on whatsapp and they get here.
Now onto the real things. I miss my mom and my dog and my friends. I miss being able to just take off and spend time with them. I miss certain luxuries and knowing exactly where to go to get the best of something, or most affordable or whatever. I miss real latino food. I miss home cooked meals. I miss Champagne (lol). Sometimes I catch myself missing the lifestyle I had. I miss the beach. I miss wearing dresses (lol). Life in Kuwait isn’t “difficult” but it’s challenging, and it takes time to get use to. I’ve finally found a rhythm and everyday I put effort into making my stay here better and better.
13) What do you love most about life in Kuwait?
Life in Kuwait has been a bit easier than what life in the States had been. Don’t get me wrong they’re both great countries with opportunity, but my lifestyle, life necessities, and overall happiness has improved greatly since moving abroad. Work can be stressful, but I feel way-less stressed than I ever have in the states.
The people in Kuwait are friendly. Things are laid back (for the most part). The food is amazing. Kuwait holds the strongest currency in the world and I’ve been able to save money for my future. I’ve connected with some really great people who have opened their lives and their homes to me. Kuwait has taught me to appreciate all the things I’ve had and currently have. The opportunities to grow professionally, mentally, emotionally are huge.
This entire opportunity is one in a lifetime.
You only live once, but if you do it right…once is enough.