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How Living Abroad Makes You Appreciate the Small Things in Life

Materialism receives a new definition when living abroad. Yes, you will be enticed to buying all those souvenirs while traveling and send them back home, but when it comes to your actual possessions, you do not really have any and learn to not grow attached to anything too much

Live the comfortable life or sell everything?

When I first ventured out to India, the only way I could afford to pay for my flight ticket was to sell all my furniture and everything I pretty much owned. I was a student who had the luxury of living quite comfortably in a two bedroom apartment with nice and good quality furniture. But I had to make a choice if I wanted to travel the world or if I wanted to keep everything to save and build up for a solid future.

I decided to sell everything.

Over the years when having to relocate so many times to different houses, apartments and countries you learn to not grow attached to anything, let alone buy much in the first place. Your mind-set is that you will not be staying for long anyway and rather than splurge on things you might just want or need for a short time, you would rather use the money for flight tickets and more travel opportunities.


I am not even necessarily talking about ‘big’ purchases like houses or cars – but basic things as simple as too much cutlery, pots, pans, crockery, shoes, trousers, underwear and bras! Yes! If you are a Western girl living in Asia, chances are you will never find a bra, underwear or trousers that truly fit like back at home (in the West). So yes, you kind of have to deal with wearing things over and over again for many years until you have the luxury of going back home to buy some replacements! haha!

Simple everyday things such as clothes and buying underwear is something you take for granted when back home as you can go out and simply replace what you need. Not so, when you are living on the other side of the world. So you somehow have to make do with it, when things fall apart and become creative if you cannot buy it anywhere.

Skin Products

For women, it can become even more complicated when buying beauty products and makeup. You will generally find that Asian countries usually offer skin whitening products and make up to make you look whiter. However in the West, we really do not like that and prefer to look a little tanned as we consider it to make us look healthier and for some also wealthier…

After ruining my skin my first year in China, because I could not find a “normal” facial wash without skin whitening agents, I had to have my family send me products over. However, depending on where you are in Asia, shipping can become quite expensive. So, what do you do? Again, you must become creative! It was because of these experiences that I had to start using natural kitchen ingredients and make my own facial washes, toners and masks. Who would have thought, this is how I would learn about and prefer home remedies to store bought products? And it is cheaper! Another bonus for your travel budget!


As a result, you learn to not take things for granted. Comforts you grew up with and probably were not even aware of, become more precious and better taken care of. But then again, you will not really know what you are going to miss until you miss it. Other examples include specific foods you like to eat – especially when you have cravings that time of month as a girl or when you are sick - or medications that are not available in the country or area you happen to live in.

When I had to see a doctor in China about my migraines and asked to prescribe me meds similar to what I had been taking back home, I was told it was not available and migraines were pretty much unheard of. Instead, I was prescribed a concoction of dried insects, leaves and a whole lot of other ingredients I did not know what it was or had even heard of before...

This is called Chinese Medicine.