what living overseas for 6 months has taught me
living overseas autumn vancouver canada

seasons come, seasons go

In month #1: You feel all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and enjoy going out and exploring new places like Stanley Park and Granville Island.

In month #2: You start settling in to the daily humdrum of life - cooking, buying groceries, cleaning, doing the laundry, and repeat. But it's still fun, since you barely ever cooked in your "previous life" and now you get to try lots of recipes, with varying degrees of success.

In month #3: You start feeling a bit lost. You realise that nobody knows you for who you are and vice versa (exactly what my friend Naomi described in her brilliant guest post).

In month #4: You struggle to get out of bed because there's nothing much you look forward to. And you still feel like you're trying to find a place to belong to and fit in with.

In month #5: To clear up that cloud of unhappiness and persisting ennui, you escape for a holiday to sunny Los Angeles.

In month #6: You feel recharged and energised, and start putting yourself out there again - meeting newfound friends, building stronger relationships with existing ones, joining a life group in church, and volunteering in church.

The above pretty much sums up my life so far in Vancouver, Canada. But on a deeper level, I have definitely enjoyed having the time and space to think, question, and reflect on a whole assortment of issues, from identity to work and friendships. 

Here's what living overseas in this short span of time has already taught me:

  • Give yourself time. Time to grow, time to meet people whose company you enjoy, and time to understand your place in a strange new land.
  • Ask a stranger out. If building genuine friendships are important to you (like it is for me), don't just wait for things to happen. Take the initiative to plan a coffee date or organise a gathering. The most radical thing I've done here - which I would never have done back home in Singapore - was to connect with someone via Instagram and ask if she was keen to meet up for a chat. Happily, she agreed :p
  • Stop comparing. I've come to realise how damaging it is when you compare yourself to other folks who seem to have an easier time in meeting new people and getting new opportunities. But everyone has their own story and their own struggles, even if it isn't easily apparent.
  • Go slow. The sudden change in the pace of life will be startling. When I first arrived in Vancouver, I could not get used to the quiet. Yes, there's the usual traffic noise, but compared to Singapore, it's waaaayyy more peaceful here. Of course, you might feel the same disconnect if you move from a sleepy town to a busy city. But instead of filling your schedule up with activities and things to do (whether to serve as distractions or make you feel like you're "thriving" in a new place), purpose in your heart to slow down instead. There is value in taking on a more thoughtful approach to life, which to me means seriously evaluating what direction I want my future to take, and what projects I should focus my energy and time on.