10 Things I Have Learned From Living Abroad

Being brought up in a small town in Maine, I used to dream about a life abroad. I wanted to travel and meet people from different places. I wanted to see how they dressed, what they ate, what their daily lives were like. I was a dreamer.

We were very fortunate as a family; my father was a very successful entrepreneur which afforded us to travel throughout the United States and parts of Canada. The one caveat that my father had was we were not to leave the country until we had seen all that the United States had to offer.

Well, as you can imagine, we never left the country, other than a weekend trip to Quebec City. Which I might say, is not a bad thing and is not a bad caveat that my father stated but it did not curb my appetite for wanting to travel abroad.

The first opportunity I had to get on a plane and leave the country was in 1976. I was newly married and my husband and I were going to Venezuela and Aruba for our honeymoon. When we arrived, the streets were lined with army personnel loaded down with machine guns and there were tanks parked on the street.

I was nineteen years old at the time and my mind was spinning with questions. When we finally arrived in Aruba, I saw a different kind of life. The resort life and the way the natives really lived. That image of such disparity has stayed with me all of my life and helped to form the person I am today.

My next trip abroad was in 1994 to Poland and Germany. This time with a new husband, a native of Poland, wanted to show me his world. I was hooked. I loved it, the people, the food, the history, the stories that were around every corner. I swore to him at that time that I would live abroad someday.

Now, fast forward to 2017, it has been a full three years of living abroad and traveling the globe. It has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Not only have I grown exponentially as a person, woman, mother and grandmother, business woman, and wife; but I have come to realize that we are all just humans looking for connection, acceptance, and love.

My sixtieth birthday was spent in a park with thirty-one other people from seventeen countries. Now that’s what I call living!

I have danced the salsa on the streets of Warsaw

helped to deliver a baby calf in the countryside of Poland

went topless on the beaches of France


dropped my cell phone in the Grand Canal of Venice

went snorkeling in the coral reefs of Australia

 and bought my first pair of underwear from a street vendor in Spain

spent a few nights in a Polish hospital when my lyme disease decided to act up

and so much more. And as an added bonus, I have made the most spectacular friends from around the globe.

But how do we get to that point if we are too embarrassed to make a mistake learning a new language for instance, full of guilt or judgment of what others will think about us, or believing that we can’t or shouldn’t. Too often I run across people that are in awe of my life, and although that is flattering, anyone can do this. The list below hopefully will give you the courage to take a step toward your dream life.

10 things I’ve learned from living abroad

  1. Learn to say: hello, good-bye, please and thank you in the native tongue of every country you visit. Learning to live like a native will exponentially enhance your travelling experience.
  2. Introduce to strangers. I know you were told as a child to never talk to strangers. Well…here is your chance. Say hello on the bus, talk to someone at the coffee shop, speak with the cashier, befriend a waitress. People are proud of their country and where they live and are always happy to make your stay enjoyable.
  3. Share your gifts with the world. People are inquisitive by nature. Share a tradition, a recipe, a way to do something different. Even share a smile. In some parts of the world smiling is a lost art.
  4. Learn to laugh at yourself. Living or travelling in a foreign country is fraught with embarrassing moments. Get over it and see the humor in life.
  5. Experiences are more important than stuff. This I know for sure after selling or giving away all of our belongings except for 50 pounds worth of clothing, my life is so much richer now than ever before.
  6. Being inquisitive is a great gift. By being present in the moment you will reap the rewards. By saying “yes” to adventure a whole new world will unfold before you.
  7. Make sure to check out websites like interntations.org, check in with the local American Chamber of Commerce office or the American Embassy during your travels. There are people just like you all around the globe seeking new friends.
  8. When trying something new you’ll suck at it and that is OK. Lighten up, your new life is just on the other side of fear.
  9. Never live on a street name that you can’t pronounce. I know this may sound silly but when ordering a taxi, calling in an emergency situation, or ordering take-out it helps to be able to clearly pronounce your destination.
  10. Even though I live abroad it does not make me any less of an American.

Where is it that you want to go, what do you wish to experience, how do you see your life playing out and how can you impact the world?

Be Authentic and let your light shine. The path will appear.


Merry Lynch

If you liked this post, please share it with a friend. You never know when you just might change someone’s life.

Check out these other posts that you may find of interest:

Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives

Share A Smile With A Stranger

5 Ways To Unsuck Your Life

Feeling stuck and don’t know where to begin, fill out my quick Let’s Get Acquainted Questionnaire so that I may guide you in the direction of your dreams. I am here for you! If you are ready to live life on your terms, guilt and shame free then make a move today. Let’s Get Acquainted! 

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