Welcome to my new series ‘The Living Abroad Questionnaire’ where I interview 5 women born in 5 different countries about their experiences of living abroad for extended periods of time! Every day of this week you will get a new insight into what its like to move to a new country and how it can impact your life for the better!
Country of birth: Zambia
Countries you’ve lived in: Zambia, Botswana, Kenya, Tunisia, Canada
Why did you move abroad?
Ever since I could remember, my Dad has always had jobs that have required him to move countries every 2-4 years. One of the many rules for my dad’s current job is that he is not allowed to work in his home country. Therefore, when he moves, we all move with him. After I completed my 10th grade, I made the personal decision to leave home, which was Tunisia at the time, to move to Canada by myself. I felt as though I needed to learn how to become independent, and I wanted to experience a new life and a new continent. So I moved to Canada, and have been here ever since.
What was the process of moving to a new country?
The process always involved applying for visas, and waiting to know if you have been accepted or not. It’s been like that my whole life. It was definitely easier applying within Africa than for the student permit and visa to Canada, as there were a lot more requirements.
Was there an aspect of living abroad that was different from what you expected?
I think every country that I have lived in was different from what I had expected, because you always go into situations with a pre-conceived idea of what its going to be like. You have certain doubts about things, but when you get there, you realize it’s even better than you could have imagined. I think Tunisia was the most different from my expectations. Living in a predominantly Arab country did come with its up and downs. I lived there for two years, and they only speak Arabic and French. This was a very hard transition for me having lived previously in countries that were predominantly English. I had to learn a language I wasn’t familiar with, and my family and I would get stares for the colour of skin, or being called slurs in the streets. Over time, things got better and Tunisia has actually been one of my favourite countries to live in.
How has living abroad changed your perception of life?
Living abroad has definitely changed my life and made me who I am today. Being a ‘Third Country Kid’, has made me open-minded because having gone to international schools all my life, I have come across many different cultures, and made friends from all around the world. It has taught me to accept everyone. It has also made me more social and more confident, and it has definitely made me appreciate the relationships I have. Living abroad has opened my eyes and made me more self-aware, it has taught me not take things for granted. I have lived in countries where there has been conflict, countries where it has been peaceful, it has taught me to appreciate everything I have, and to never wish for more, or wish I could be somewhere else. Each country came with a different lesson that helped shape who I have become today.
Any tips for someone moving abroad for the first time?
Whatsapp/Facetime are your best friends. I don’t think I would have survived being homesick without those two apps, it’s the best way to keep in touch with your friends and family, especially being so far away from them and still feeling like their presence is there. Another tip would be to always go into things with an open mind, otherwise you will forever be homesick and you wont enjoy things to the fullest. When you have an open mind, you get to experience things that you look back at and think to yourself ‘wow, I really did that, I’m really here in this country experiencing things I would never have imagined’. It is also important to know that goodbyes aren’t forever, I cannot count to you how many times I have left friends behind and cried thinking I would never see them again and years later we are reunited, and it is the best feeling.
Thanks Tinta! Stay tuned for a new interview tomorrow!