10 Things That Changed Since I Lived Abroad.

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“Dani, how did your life change since you lived abroad?”




A Facebook private message read. 



Me: I became a minimalist, more tolerant, more patient, more flexible, more open minded, faster to learn a language, frugal, good citizen, lesser judgmental, culture sensitive, appreciate silence more, complain lesser and lesser, more creative and most of all, wide reader and a budding writer. 🙂 The list goes on and on and it’s easier to say that the old me that I know died. Even the name Dani that I coined just to sound cooler changed. I’m now Danica.




This was the shortest response that I could give her because I got scared that I have turned to a madwoman too after moving abroad twice. I could have given her a revised and expounded reply but I don’t know if she will be interested to read a memoir.




Shortly after I sent her that brief answer, there were nearly a thousand words that started bouncing up and down in my head. The blabber in me was triggered. I know I will be able to come up with more than a thousand words that will pass as a blog post entry. I can not not elaborate on this. I can not not justify it. Freak alert!




  1. I became a frugal minimalist



In 2014 I moved to Malaysia and the only thing that I got sad about was not being able to fit my exaggerated shoe, dress, bag, book, magazine and other trinket collection inside my 24 kilo allowed luggage. I remember my carry on almost bursting. I was tempted to wear 5 dresses just to save space and be able to bring more.




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I wasn’t sad because I will not see my family so often anymore. I was sadder that I will leave the wardrobe that I built and looked forward to building a new and bigger one which started not even a month after I settled in.



I was shopping like I have shootings and tapings to attend to. I forgot that I am not a celebrity who was paid to look good and must avoid being seen wearing an outfit twice in such a short span of time.



Moving again made me live like a nomad everyday. I no longer need buy things I will not use. I am no longer being affected by the demands the biggest brands are creating. I have what I need to live the simple life that I want. I don’t need more stuff that give me headache and anxiety. Having less is the answer to having a peaceful life.



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2. I became more patient.




I learned how to live slowly. I understand the “power of now” better and it makes sense. There is no need to rush everything like my meal. Being fully present in every single task that I do made me see more beauty and learn more profound lessons.



From paperwork to doing my weekly grocery to cleaning my space to learning basic Coding for my website.



Living abroad has made me complain lesser and lesser. I used to be the brat who bitched about every single thing in my life and cried for help at the very first sign of discomfort. I learned to be patient with myself and realize that I am a big work under progress.



I never saw how blessed I was until I traded my little comfort zone to the real big world where people try to make ends meet and/or save their lives by seeking refuge in another country.



Patience came with compassion.



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3. I realized that school is not everything.



Everything that I have learned from all the schools I have been to didn’t teach me what I needed to know to survive in this life. Okay, I learned how to read and write but they are not everything. I wish they also taught me to love myself and gave a friendly reminder that I am not just born to pay bills and die. I wish they taught Happiness 101 or Introduction to Self-Care.



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4. I read like a maniac.


Whatever I am not confident to ask, I read. Whatever I can’t afford to learn, I read and then teach myself. Now I have more books than clothes and I find them more useful. I now see the benefits of freeing time to read. It has opened my mind more than I have expected it to. I never thought that there are still unexplored part of my brain.



Every book that I have read has become a part of me. Little by little, I am able to name emotions I couldn’t name before and amazed that other people have experienced it too. Reading alone gave me an assurance that I am not alone and that what I am going through is not unusual. Someone somewhere felt it too and put it to words. I just needed to pick up the right books.



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5. I became flexible




I still can’t pass to be a record- breaking gymnast but I’m surprised to know how fast I can adapt to a new environment. I thought I am a mermaid but I was wrong. I am a chameleon who can blend anywhere easily.



Living abroad has deleted all my preset expectations of how I want my life to look like and really take each day as it comes. I no longer beat myself for not preparing as early as now for my future because I know that I am working very hard each day for the one that I will love living more. A second from now is the future.



Every second that I spend hating the situation where I am (e.g. job I hate) is every second of my present and future already wasted. I thought travel has trained to me to be flexible but it didn’t. It wasn’t enough. Living abroad is like a form of yoga. There are so many poses I needed to practice first before I can truly be flexible.




6. I became more creative




Being in a new place, with different seasons, different culture, different smell and people with different perspectives inspired me to start embracing my inner artist of life. I’m no artist whose expertise in some sort of art will make tons of cash but I am an artist of life.



It took me so long and so many failed attempts to find out who I really am and what I want to be but now I know why I took Communication Arts. Communication is my art. I might have only lasted one painting class session but that doesn’t mean that it is the only form of art I can be good be at. Life is an art and I am the artist in mine.




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7. My love for languages

I used to imitate not just Indian accent but also all the others different than mine that I can hear. My friends thought it was hilarious and their wild roar of laughter stroked my ego and boosted my confidence.



I thought I was a clown.



But Germans actually have a term for that. Sprachgefuehl or the feel of language which actually means ones ability to learn a language fast. (See my favorite German words here.) Sure my German is still like of a toddler’s but I am trying to learn as much as I can every single chance I get.



I am not a native English speaker neither but I am making a conscious effort to improve and use it like how the natives would. I fell in love with the thought of learning new languages.



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8. I became an Introvert


It’s the biggest shocker for me. I used to drag my friends to the loo because I loved having them around. Because I mean, I can not not speak my head out alone, can I? I need to always talk, to always look good, to stand out, have more and be obnoxiously funny to be liked, right?



But when I moved out of my country, I realized what an introvert I really am. I never thought that I would enjoy my time alone so much that I looked forward to coming home as fast as I can to be able to curl up and read.



The only fear left  is not being able to read enough books.




9. I became less judgmental.




As I started hanging out with people outside my own race, all my preconceived notions and stereotypes started melting away. Not all Muslims are bad. Not all Chinese are racists. Not all Americans are stupid.



Not all South East Asians are ignorant. Not all Filipinos are gold diggers. The list can go on but I don’t have them anymore. In fact, people I keep on meeting people on the road who have shown me kindness, understanding and compassion that I never experienced in the safe premises of our village or even my own country.



At the end of the day, I came to realize that we are just all the same. We are all fighting for survival but being disrespectful and judgmental are things we never really needed.




10. I became an ambassadress of Self-love.




I am no longer apologetic for being who I truly am and what I will still become. I no longer look at my thighs and inspect them for possible cellulite. I would see physically challenged people really trying to do their stuff with so much gusto and there I was silently cursing my thighs for not shrinking no matter which diet I try.



I heard their voices in my head saying “I will do whatever it takes to have thighs on which I can walk like a normal person.” I forgot to thank my body for allowing me to do all the things I want to. I never celebrated the power of my mind in trying to understand things it does. I forgot to thank my heart for still working no matter how many times it got broken. Of all the love I was giving away, I never gave myself some.



My anxiety, insecurity, depression and the need to have more and be liked faded away. Living abroad and away from all the things familiar has made me a child trying to learn how to crawl, walk and speak again.



Living abroad made me fall in love with myself and all the flaws it came with. Not only that. I am getting better in directly expressing what I want. I grew up in a culture that sugarcoats everything because we are trained not to upset other people. I have learned to say “no” more often. I have become selective of who I allow in my life too. I have learned to prioritize myself and do what makes my heart swell with joy.



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Have you lived abroad? How did your life change?




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10 Things That Changed Since I Lived Abroad




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This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission. This is at no cost to you but helps me to provide awesome content regularly. Thanks for your support!

12 thoughts on “10 Things That Changed Since I Lived Abroad.

  1. What an interesting post!

    You said you are not a native English speaker but your English is sooo Good. I hope you’ll have a good stay in Malaysia (I’m a Malaysian btw)

  2. Great post! I really enjoyed when you talked about how your prospective on life began changing. When we allow our minds to open to new ideas and experiences, things can change hugely in our lives. Thanks for sharing Danica.

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