The content of each post is solely written by that contributor and only expresses the contributor's personal views. Each post does not represent the views of all the contributors or Women of Color Living Abroad as an organization. Each contributor is speaking from their own person experiences and/or perspective.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

“I wish I could do that…” Why can’t you?

February 29, 2012--BrittanyS

For many of us, when it comes to going abroad, perhaps the hardest step to take is the first one.  You have to decide to go.  Once that decision has been made, the rest will follow.  I know you may be thinking “Easier said than done.”  I can agree with that, after all, actions speak louder than words.  But clichés aside, to that I say it’s not as hard as you think.
Like with most other things worth doing or having, the going abroad pursuit comes with its own obstacles.  But the biggest obstacle is YOU.  Fret not, if you are reading this, that alone means there is hope for you yet. :-)  So here’s a little help overcoming the little naysayer resting on your shoulder.  Let’s discuss the top 5 reasons we decide to stay at home.

1.      "I don’t speak their language."
Well, you’re in luck.  If you can read THIS, then you speak the most powerful language in the world: ENGLISH.  Not only is English the official language in several countries around the world, (even ones you might not readily think about like the Philippines or many African countries) but (American) English is the world’s business language.  As a result, at least proficiency in it is sought in countries that either have high international tourist revenue or countries that do heavy trading with English speaking countries.  Either way, speaking English will take you far.  HOWEVER, please do NOT be THAT ignorant American (or other nationality) that thinks everyone should worship the ground you walk on because you speak English, be real.  If the country does not have English as one of its official languages, don’t expect everyone to speak English.  It is common courtesy to at least ATTEMPT to speak the local language.  They will appreciate your efforts, you will learn something new that you can impress your friends or insult your enemies with, and in some situations, it will help you out when the other person doesn't speak English.

2.     "There isn’t anyone there that looks like me and/or shares my culture."
Even though it may be a huge step for you to decide to go abroad, you (more than likely) will not be a trailblazer.  We are here!  We are also great resources for just about anything: jobs, hair, food, shopping, dating, etc.  Anything you can think of, at least one expat woman of color in that country has experienced it.  You can learn from our mistakes and benefit from our successes.  We got your back ;-)

3.     "I have too many bills to be able to take a vacation like that.  Plus I have a significant other and/or child(ren)."
Maybe you have too many bills for a VACATION, but what about to move to another country for EMPLOYMENT (which in my eyes is still somewhat of a vacation)?  The cost of living abroad can be considerably cheaper if you play your cards right AND, in some cases you might even end up making something considerably close to what you were making at home.  You know what that means?  More money to pay your bills/debt.  It also means you don’t have a lot of expenses abroad so that’s money leftover to take a vacation somewhere else!  As far as your family is concerned, bring’em all, “and your little DOG, too!!!!”  While you are doing your homework on different countries, investigate their family policy.  Some places even give priority to family units.  There are international schools (and other options) that have instruction in English if you are worried about your child(ren)’s education.  There are even some places that will allow you and your partner to work together, but don't tell them that if you don't want them crowding you. 

4.     "I heard they don’t like (insert your country/race/ethnicity here)."
REALITY:  where you are RIGHT NOW, someone probably doesn’t like you because you are a woman and/or of color.  Your genetic makeup includes the two categories of people discriminated against the most.  *shrug* That’s life.  Hold your head up high and be proud to be who you are, no matter where you are.  Don’t let someone else’s preferences hold you back.  Besides, what one dislikes, the other adores!  You might find yourself to be the local celebrity!

5.     "What am I gonna eat over there?  I heard they eat dog/raw octopus/bugs, etc."
Yes maybe (some) people do.  But that’s doesn’t mean YOU have to!  Think about popular foods in your country.  Do you like them ALL?  Just like you don’t have to eat them there, you don’t have to eat them in (insert your desired country here).  Food is a cultural marker, even down to the way it is consumed.  Some places use hands, others chopsticks or forks.  Some chew like wild horses, others nibble like rabbits.  You’d be surprised at how similar your food culture can be to other places in the world, and even more so how easy it is to adapt to someone else’s without losing yours.  Hey, if you can stomach McDonald's , a food that practically has no expiration date (something food is SUPPOSED to have right?) then you can eat another culture’s food.  I’m sure whenever I mention “chitlins” (chitterlings, or pig intestines) to some people, they think THAT’S weird, but what’s weird to some is normal to others.  You might like their “weird” food.


  1. I use all 5 excuses! ~Poopie

  2. This is wonderful! I am sharing this on FB and Twitter! I was never concerned with any of these excuses, and I feel like I was meant to travel the world. So many people use these excuses when I tell them where I am!

    1. YES! I even tell people that I will walk them through the process and/or that they can come STAY WITH ME and I will personally show them the ropes. But noooo...they never take me up on it. Oh well...more travel opportunities for me!