“You know what else is nice about being a foreigner? Whatever you do takes place in a capsule that need not be discovered and opened by someone back home. Nothing really counts–it was the life that falls in the forest. That’s how I looked at it. I felt free to…oh, I don’t know.”— Patricia Marx
This quote has me thinking a lot about the experience that I had while living abroad. Literally when I shared it with my friends and family back home. Everyone was extremely curious. I used to be a cabin crew. My life was basically walking in the airports, sleeping in various hotels and working in the aircraft. You told people stories, what you have been through, somehow not everyone would perceive the same.
We tend to look at things with our own perspectives because we are creatures of habits. That is when only those who travel and live overseas, will understand what it really feels like. Sometimes words just cannot describe.
Does living aboard really change you forever as a person?
Let’s meet our guest today and listen to his stories of living overseas and get yourself some insights.
Eloir Limberger currently lives in Lisbon, Portugal. He was born in one of the greenest cities in Brazil, Curitiba.Getting to know Eloir Limberger.
Brazil is well-nown for its exotic culture, amazing footballers, beautiful women, pristine beaches, great food and the most populous country in South America. Eloir has been to 36 countries in all 5 continents. Eloir is native in Portuguese. He speaks well Spanish and English, also French. Eloir was struggling a lot while living overseas just like anyone of us.
Here are the 9 living abroad experiences that everyone should know about:
#1 Eloir had a massive cultural shock when he first moved to Sydney, Australia.
Imagine from Brazil to Australia, it is a freaking long way. The land down under is more than 14.000 kilometers away from his hometown. Arriving in Sydney with little to no knowledge of English and being away from family, Eloir found it hard to adapt to a new culture. It was 2008 that he relocated to Sydney. He admitted that he thought of giving up and getting back to Brazil so many times during his 4-year of living in the land of kangaroos.
#2 “I invested too much to fail. I don’t want to fail.”
Eloir did not want to embarrass himself with his family and friends back in Brazil. He had a desire to succeed by all means. Most of the immigrants, including me, have this mindset. We came to a new city for a better life. We want to prove to our loved ones that we are doing well, that we will make it, we thrive to be successful. But life turns bitter sometimes. We need to face the truth that problems always come to test how resilient we are. The results are not always fruity, but we all grow and get wiser after each hurricane.
#3“I was struggling to look for friends in that first year living in Sydney.”
He decided to reach out to his Brazillian community instead. He played safe because hanging out with people from the same culture and mentality, things are way less uncomfortable. We are all creatures of habit. It is not easy to adapt to new things. He did not find many local friends apart from his own community.
#4 Eloir tried to adapt to this new culture by limiting his time hanging out with the Brazillian community.
He found many new friends in his English class. This way he would avoid speaking only in Portuguese as he forced himself to communicate in English. This is a great method of emerging. They were mostly international students. It was also a drawback since his friends all moved or returned to their hometown after finishing education in Australia. He longed for having friends that wanted to settle in Sydney.
#5 After four years in Australia, he decided to move back to Brazil and face another cultural shock.
This time Eloir could not adapt back to his own culture. He wanted to find like-minded international friends but it was not easy since the majority of people speak only Portuguese in Brazil . It was 2013 that he returned there and he felt extremely lonely. It was not like what he expected at all. Luckily, Eloir made a decision to join AIESEC as a volunteer. This new experience completely transformed him into a new person with a new mindset. It was life-changing opportunities as he found it very meaningful and brought a lot of positivity back to his life.
#6 Why did Eloir want to volunteer to help other people?
The appreciation that he received from the volunteer experience was authentic and tremendous. He could not forget how happy and grateful people were when he helped them successfully achieve their goals. Eloir considered himself as a global citizen. He does not want to settle yet. Even though most of his friends got married or had kids. He wanted to help people that faced the same issues as he did – struggling to adapt to the local culture. He then joined AIESEC – A global organization that aims to help students to reach their highest potential.
#7 What did he benefit from volunteering?
Eloir figured out that we don’t need to be an expert to help other people. Just offer what you have and be willing about it. Do it with all your heart. He made friends for life that he turned out meeting them again in their own hometown while traveling. The experience was amazing. It brought meanings and joy into his life. He moved back to Brazil to do volunteer work in 2014, the year of the World Cup. He loved to be a part of a global team – AISEC. It has made him a better person.
#8 The next journey: Eloir became a cabin crew on a cruise ship. What challenges did he face this time?
In 2015, Eloir made his new journey working on a cruise ship. Although he woke up in a different city every day, he spent most of his time inside the cabin. He worked 7 days a week, 11 hours per day with little break. He said he would not go back to it but he never regretted it. It was a one-time life experience that he totally embraced. He learned to respect and deal with different cultures, that we should not take things personally. It had a great impact on his cultural awareness. When people do things differently does not mean it is not right. Acceptance is the key to be truly free.
#9 “What is one piece of advice that you will give to the people that come to live in a new country, for the first time?”
“You need to adapt to the new culture. Sometimes the country is designed to make its own people happy, not you. Learn the language, be patient and be open-minded as things take time, especially in old society like Portugal.”
There is a saying from Africa that I always keep in mind:
“The stranger sees only what he knows.”
We tend to see what we want to see. Not what we need to see. I totally relate to this. I used to complain a lot while living abroad, especially if I could not understand the way the locals behave.
However, if you put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their mentality. Everything would become clearer. Patience is all we need because deep cultural knowledge does take time.
As our friend Eloir shared a lot about his journey and how he struggled to overcome those obstacles of living abroad, I believe you are able to connect to this story personally.
I will let these four lines in the movie Pocahontas end this article.
You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew.
Whoever you are reading this blog, I want you to know that you are unique, beautiful and full of great energy. Good things in life are waiting for you.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for our next guest.
Power Up Your Digital Impact • Copywriting, Digital Branding & Engagement, Personal Branding • Contact me for guest posts and collaboration.