My Journey to Expat Life: Oliver Sanders

by | Feb 11, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

My journey to expat life was (and still is) complicated and rewarding in equal measure. Here’s how I jumped out of my comfort zone to embark on a new and exciting life on the other side of the world.

My Journey to Expat Life: A Childhood of Traveling

I’ve always been fortunate enough to enjoy traveling with my family. My parents were, even from my earliest years, overwhelmingly keen to give me the opportunity to experience new places while simultaneously satisfying their own passion for travel. By the time I reached double digits, I had visited Australia, South Africa, the USA and had road-tripped around much of France and Spain. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, these travels engendered within me a long-standing passion for adventure.

My Journey to Expat Life: Decision Time

My decision to start my own journey to expat life, as significant and formative as it turned out to be, actually required little thought whatsoever.

My Mum and I in Austria a few weeks before leaving for Taiwan - photo by David Sanders
My Mum and I in Austria a few weeks before leaving for Taiwan – photo by David Sanders

Indeed, as my post-graduation plans to travel to Australia and New Zealand evaporated at the hands of COVID-19, the next best thing (or in hindsight an even better thing) seemed to live abroad full time. As my friends back home settled for staying in the UK and doing “panic masters,’’ my desire to escape the mold led to me researching such far-flung lands as Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Being a keen trail runner and mountain man, my primary requirement for an expat destination was certainly topography-based. Once I had stumbled across the scale of Taiwan’s mountains, my decision seemed remarkably easy, considering its enormity.

Having vowed never to follow the well-trodden career path of a History graduate, turned-teacher, I was forced to swallow my pride and apply for English-teaching jobs. I was somewhat naïve in not caring too much about a job compared to my lifestyle. I would advise those looking at moving abroad to prioritize destination over employment. Although I had several reasons to move abroad, adventure and enjoyment should always be a top priority. Indeed, as long as your job provides a decent enough income to enable you to enjoy the country’s adventures, grasp that opportunity with both hands.

My Journey to Expat Life: Reflections

I still struggle to see myself as an expat, but without doubt, moving abroad in whatever capacity or with whatever motivation is a hugely rewarding experience.

My extremely welcoming Taiwanese hiking family - photo by Stacy Tsu
My extremely welcoming Taiwanese hiking family – photo by Stacy Tsu

My motivation was adventure and travel rather than starting a new life. But I maintain that moving abroad can suit anyone with a willingness to make that initial leap outside the comfort zone.

Although moving to pastures unknown can seem like an overwhelming step into solitude, in reality, with the right disposition, there will be people to help you every step of the way.

While leaving your reliable friends and family behind, and while stepping through a language barrier can seem intimidating, you will always meet people willing to help you through the hardest steps of moving abroad.

Good friends can help to ease the difficulties of the inevitable culture shock, the administrative and perhaps even financial difficulties, the language barriers, and general day-to-day problems. Although it’s certainly not always easy, the good times will outweigh the bad times in years to come.

Let us know if you have questions about the decision or process of becoming an expat! We’re here to help.

by Oliver Sanders