Let’s face it; we all have a certain stereotype in mind when we think of the expat wife. I often think of a woman, lying around the house, isolated, eating bon bons, and day drinking while her maid cleans up after her. I will also admit some of these stereotypes ring true at times, and are the reason I love being an expat wife. I’ve read numerous blogs written by expat wives that are very negative about living overseas. Please remember that everyone is different, as is every country, and experience. I am writing this from the perspective of an expat wife living in Santa Catarina, Brazil, and I plan to share with you my list of pros in regard to this amazing lifestyle.
1. Free time
Yes, I have a lot more free time than I did while working between 50-60 hours a week in the United States. I absolutely love it. I sleep in some days, take naps, relax in the hammock, go to the gym, surf the internet, and spend time on my hobbies. It is amazing and I don’t know how I will ever manage going back to such a hectic work schedule when I return to the United States. It took time not to feel guilty about my spare time, but now I am unashamed to admit naps are awesome!
Living in Brazil and not having a full time job gives my husband and me the opportunity to travel and explore this amazing country. It is currently summer in Brazil and we go to the beach almost every weekend. The location we live in makes it very easy to just jump in the car and head out for a new adventure. Also, short flights within Brazil can be very inexpensive if you know where to look for good deals.
3. Amazing Facebook photos we share with family and friends
Our ability to travel on the weekends makes for some great photo opportunities. I can’t tell you how much enjoyment we get out of posting pics of us at the beach while our friends and family are all freezing back in the United States. Ha ha! But in all seriousness, our families and friends love seeing our pictures of Brazil and are interested in our lives overseas. Our Brazilian friends also love our photos and are happy that we are enjoying living in their country so much.
4. Learning a new language
While in Brazil we are both studying Portuguese and are actually getting by pretty well. It is fun to learn a new language. It is also fun to post photos on Facebook accompanied by Portuguese to show just how pretentious we are! But really, our Brazilian friends enjoy it when we post in Portuguese because it shows that we are learning their language and respect their language and culture. This brings me to number 5.
5. Making new friends
Brazilians are wonderful, fun loving, curious, and friendly people! The people we have met in Santa Catarina seem excited to meet foreigners and love that we love their country. We have more of a social life in Brazil than we did in the United States. We are often invited out to parties, the beach, etc. It also helps us with our Portuguese to spend time with our Brazilian friends, and they love to practice their English too.
6. New hobbies
Since moving to Brazil we have found new hobbies to explore. Body boarding, surfing, stand up paddle board, internet blogging, photography, and making videos are a just a few. Again, the photography and videos help us a lot with #3!
7. Realizing my self-worth is not tied to what I do for a living
Prior to moving I was very focused on my career and worried I would lose my sense of identity if I was not working. My experience has been the opposite. I have a stronger sense of who I am as a person and realize my self-worth is not related to my J-O-B, but rather to who I am as a person and my overall attitude about life. Many people struggle with this concept later in life when they retire. I am luck to learn it now so that I can enjoy all of the small things in life while I am still young-ish. For example I can sit for hours just listening to waves crashing on the shore and be in the moment rather than worrying about the future. It is liberating. And this leads me to #8.
8. Not worrying about what others think
I have reached a point over this journey in which other people’s opinions of me and their criticism no longer matters. So if you ask me what I do all day, I will probably respond by telling you about the hammock that is hanging in my back yard between the palm trees, the beach, and day drinking. I do not care what people think and leave out the part about the daily grind of living abroad. I also decided to get braces. Imagine, 39 years old with braces! I don’t care what anyone thinks and know that I will be happy once my bite is corrected and my teeth are straight. I make mistakes here all the time with the language, how things operate, etc. But the good news is that I care less and less about the mistakes I make and sounding stupid because I know that making mistakes is part of learning. I am freer to spend more energy on the things that matter like relationships, and the people I love.
As I am no longer controlled by the opinions of others these days, I am free to explore new styles. I have embraced Brazilian fashion and love my new animal print tops and t-shirts with sayings in English that make no sense. I lost count of how many pairs of flip flops I own. I also have an entire wardrobe of workout clothes with crazy prints and bright colors. I’m wearing clothing some in the United States would think inappropriate for a woman my age to wear. Did I mention those tiny bikinis Brazilians wear? Again, back to #8 and I am happier for it.
10. Growing, changing, and learning every day
Finally, being an expat gives me that opportunity to love change. Without change, we would all be stagnant and never grow. All of my new experiences in Brazil are shaping who I am, and challenging what I thought I knew. This experience is making me a better person and giving me a lot of opportunities and challenges. I believe that everyone should try living abroad if they can, because it is a life changer!