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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Travel Tuesdays- Micah from Los Angeles to Germany

My Answer To The Question

Hello friends, my name is Micah, the voice behind the lifestyle/travel blog Passports and Paintbrushes. I am a Southern California native currently living and studying abroad in northern Germany. My major area of study is creative writing, while my minor is German, and my blog is a place for both those passions to converge. I decided to move abroad primarily because I wanted to be fully immersed in the German language and culture- something that's just not possible in Los Angeles! But that's not all.

When you decide to move abroad, you will undoubtedly be asked the question: "Why do you like living abroad?" A perfectly reasonable question to a girl who uprooted her cushy life to move to the other side of the globe. And while my desire to improve my German skills is a perfectly valid answer, it can feel a bit shallow and nondescript. It never fully describes my reasons and motives for choosing this lifestyle. It takes more than a language to keep this girl happy!

So, here are a five reasons that answer in more detail exactly why I like living abroad. If you are an expat as well, perhaps you can relate to and even use some of these reasons in your next dinner party conversation!

1. You Live Outside Your Comfort Zone- Nothing forces you to live in the moment more than stepping outside your comfort zone.  I am someone who tends to stubbornly stay inside her comfort zone, so expat life has been a challenging yet rewarding experience! Of course, life abroad is still filled with the daily nine to five routine, but every aspect of my routine here stretches me in some new way. Mundane tasks like grocery shopping or talking to my neighbors quickly become an adventure, filled with obstacles, tests, and triumphs. When I am in new situations or surroundings, I become more aware of the details and drink in each moment more deeply.

2. You Make Unexpected Friends- Yesterday I went to a movie with five other people, all from vastly different backgrounds and walks of life. Daily I am surrounded by people with various languages, nationalities, and experiences from my own. You would not believe some of the stories I've heard, and the incredible people I've met. Of course I miss my friends and family back home, but I'm confident the relationships I've formed here unique and irreplaceable. I will cherish them always.

3. There's Never a Dull Moment- I learned what is, in my opinion, one of the most important life lessons: How to laugh at yourself. I have found myself in more awkward and hilarious situations abroad due to cultural misunderstandings, than in the previous 19 years combined! I've learned not to take life, or myself, too seriously. I used to plan out every little detail of my life in advance, worrying and stressing over the minutia. But now I eagerly embrace the unknown, which is good, because now I can hop on a train bound for a foreign city, with little more than a few days notice! Life abroad is a lot of things, but dull is not one of them.

 4. You Appreciate Home That Much More- You never know a good thing till it's gone, right? Well, that statement is partially true in my case. I've always know I come from a good home, but I didn't realize just how great it was until I moved abroad. My home equipped me with the tools I need to thrive, and provided the spring board that launched me into the world. But I couldn't have realized that truth until I was fully launched. And although homesickness is no joke, and you might feel left out or guilty at times, you quickly realize the relationships that really matter are the ones that will last. Cherish them. When I go home in August, I will appreciate everything and everyone in my life a million times more than if I'd never left at all.

5. You Grow and Change in Countless Ways- Personal growth and transformation occurs no matter where you live, but I've noticed it is much more tangible and observable when abroad. I can literally see myself gaining confidence with each passing day. I have trips to far off countries, experiences like skydiving in Prague, and souvenirs like holy water from the Vatican to prove my new found sense of adventure. I've made new friends with a vast variety of people, and feel completely comfortable asking someone to meet for coffee- something I would have been too scared to do this time last year. The changes in scenery and culture that accompany a move abroad are nothing compared to the changes I've witnessed in myself. And I will be forever grateful.

Chances are, you won't be able to answer in this much detail the next time someone asks you why you like living abroad at a dinner party. They'll probably slink away to the 'bathroom' before you reach point number two. But if you know why you love expat life, they will take notice. Some of your love is bound to rub off on them, and if you're lucky, they might decide to go home, pack their suitcases, and join you!

Where else to find Micah:

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