Living abroad is sure to teach you a lot. You’ll learn about the world, about other cultures, and even some insight about yourself. But there is one lesson every expat should learn BEFORE moving abroad, and its best summed up in a story a heard a long time ago. (I couldn’t find the original, so this is my version of it.)
Once there was a wise old man who sat outside the gate to his town to greet every visitor that came by. One day a traveler came to the gate and asked to come inside.
“Hello, I am hoping to find a new place to live. Can you tell me about this town?” Said the traveler.
“Yes I can,” he answered, “but first, tell me about where you come from?”
“It was an awful place. The people were unkind, the city was uncultured, and the land was unfit. I’m glad to be rid of it.” Said the traveler.
The man smiled and replied, “Unfortunately, that is exactly what you’ll find here.”
The discouraged traveler shrugged and continued on to the next town.
The next day, another traveler came to the gate and greeted the old man.
“Hello, I’m looking for a new home, can you tell me about this town?” She said.
“Yes I can,” he smiled, “but first, tell me about where you come from?”
“It is a lovely place, filled with wonderful people, and beautiful land.” She said.
The old man opened the gate wide to welcome her and said, “That is exactly what you will find here.”
No matter where you find yourself in the world, whether you’re home or abroad, you will be confronted with the choice to see the good or the bad in it. Every place has both, and you’ll always find exactly what you’re looking for. Not only will this choice decide your own success and enjoyment in someone else’s country, it may also determine how you’re received there as well.