Are you hesitating to become an expat as well? Here is my top 5 list of items you should take into consideration before taking the plunge.
There are times that you will feel utterly stupid. Having lived the majority of your life in Belgium, you bring Belgian baggage and cultural background with you. You have missed over two decades of popular culture in your new home country. Even though Flanders, the northern part of Belgium where I grew up, has a much ‘Americanized’ TV culture, there are still a lot of things that you miss. Music is a total disaster once you walk off the pop music path. When I first moved to the USA, I could go to a club and not know any of the songs they play all evening. And this holds for everything culture-wise. It creates a situation where watching the “Wheel of Fortune” becomes an act of self-torture. You know the questions are really not that hard, but you are totally blank on the answer, even when it is spelled out in front of you.
You will integrate into the local culture so well, that you will become a new type of person. A person that is a Belgian in the USA, and an American in Belgium. You will be the child of 2 worlds, but feel like you belong to neither of them. You will only realize this when it is too late and there is no way back. You will start looking at world events differently. Your views and values will be challenged and you will have to adopt to your new perception of the world around you. Things that have been obvious in the past, will become less so. Your world view will change in directions you cannot even imagine.
All these things do not necessarily have to be bad things. But nevertheless, forewarned is forearmed!
Author: Nigel Grillet, a Belgian in the USA since 2013. You can connect with Nigel on LinkedIn.