My idea was to jump in feet first, try everything that was offered to us and really make the most of our expat experience, because you never know when the dream is going to be pulled from under your feet.
New experiences mean something is always happening for the first time, whether it’s your first baseball game, first trip to the movies in America, first time driving on an American road or something simple like your first ice cream in the States, these things are happening every single day.
I was braced for this when my feet first touched America soil. I knew this was going to happen and believe me I was so very excited about it. I spotted my first American school bus (then got angry when I got stuck behind it and it’s constant stops), went on my first road trip in America, had my first American shopping experience in the massive malls and of course stuffed my face with American foods.
There are the big things like renting an apartment for the first time, buying a house, buying a car. You may have done all of this in your home country but doing it for the first time in a different place is a completely different ball game. There are new rules to adhere by, new ways of doing things to learn. It changes the process around and makes it, once again, a first in your life as an expat.
Then there are the first holidays. Last year was our first Independence Day in the States, it rained for most of the day but we managed to see a parade and some fireworks. This year is our second but there’s already another first on the cards, we’re running the Peachtree Road Race for the first time. There was our first Thanksgiving when we were invited by our friends to their family celebrations so that we could truly experience an American Thanksgiving. I’m sure there will be the day when we embrace our new life even more by hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, even though we’re not American.
There’s the first trip to your new doctor which, in America, can prove very confusing thanks to the private healthcare they have over here, they could tell me I owed thousands of dollars and I’d believe them! I’m still to experience my first trip to the dentist. My first trip to the optician included an eye test for $250, and it’s safe to say I won’t be visiting that one again!
I thought that one day the firsts may end, but 18 months later and there are still so many things that I’m experiencing for the first time. There are big firsts like my first trip to New Orleans last weekend and there are little firsts, like today, when I’m working from a cafe for the first time. These things just keep on coming, no matter what their size.
Expat life is an adventure, you have to grab it, not take it for granted and take up every first that heads your way. Everything is a new experience and a learning curve, all put there to help you to grow as a person and even more importantly, settle into your new life as an expat in a new country. Personally, I don’t think the firsts will ever end and I don’t ever want them to, I’m always looking to experience new things and my expat adventure is letting me do just that.
Rachel Richter is a Brit currently living in Atlanta, GA with her German husband. She is a freelance writer and blogger who is living expat life to the full, taking on every challenge and exciting opportunity heading her way. You can follow her adventures and expat experiences on her blog, Me Myself and Atlanta.
If you are an InterNations member and would like to contribute an article, do not hesitate to contact us!