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November 2017

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5 Things I’m Thankful for as an American Abroad

There are a few tough spots in my life as an American expat in Asia.

Most are pretty trivial – I’ve never been able to find the kind of deodorant I really like. Cheese is way more expensive than I’m used to. The drastic time zone difference between here and home can get really inconvenient.

And I miss certain holidays that just aren’t celebrated here – or are celebrated in smaller or different ways.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but I’ve yet to enjoy a pumpkin spice latte this season, it’s way too warm to get cozy in a cardigan, and I don’t even have an oven to prepare my favorite seasonal dishes in (not that I’d really know how to, anyway).

But the most important tradition for this time of year is still completely doable – which is giving thanks. And I think I have more things than ever to be grateful for.

So here’s my list of 5 things I’m thankful for as an expat:

#1 – I am embracing all my passions and interests in a way that seems almost miraculous.

Since I was a kid/teen, I have had a few consistent interests that seemed a bit random and unrelated. It wasn’t until I moved to China to teach ESL that suddenly everything clicked together in a way that is obvious and natural now.

I have been fascinated with words and language since before I can remember – I always loved writing, language arts was my best subject in school, and I was the person everyone went to with grammar or spelling questions.

As a kid, I also loved learning and daydreaming about other countries. I spent hours at the library filling up index cards with random facts about the countries I wanted to explore when I was older, and I made travel a priority as soon as I was old enough to.

Finally, as a high school student, I took a job in an after school program and immediately fell in love with all the kids I was caring for. I had another amazing experience as a camp counselor in college, and it was then that I realized I am happiest when working with kids and teens.

Teaching English abroad blends all these aspects of my personality and when I stop and think about this, I feel so incredibly lucky to have found exactly the right life for me.

#2 – I’m seeing and experiencing new things all the time.

Since moving to Bangkok in July 2016, I’ve traveled somewhere new almost every month. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think of this – I can’t believe how many places I’ve been now and cultures I’ve experienced, and I’m not slowing down any time soon! I love living in a part of the world where travel is so easy and affordable.

#3 – I’m much more interested in my own life.

When I lived in America, I would spend an embarrassing amount of time watching television. I could get through an entire series in a matter of days. It was the #1 way I spent my free time.

Sometimes I worried about this habit being unhealthy, but I could never break it – until I arrived in China. Once I was abroad, my TV routine just completely vaporized. I never even thought about the shows I used to obsess over. I don’t think I watched one for an entire year.

Now I’ll occasionally try to get into a series everyone is talking about. But it makes me restless and bored. I don’t enjoy it anymore, and I’d always rather be out experiencing something more real or substantial.

I think this change happened so effortlessly because I am genuinely happy with my actual life now, and I am thankful to be so excited by everything around me. Just going on a simple walk can be a great afternoon that energizes and inspires me. My mind is no longer trying escape a rut that I don’t really belong in.

#4 – I found an amazing partner in the most random place.

I have traveled alone a little, and it is definitely an empowering experience that I’d recommend everyone try at least once. But in the long-term, I am so thankful that I met Simon in the South of China and that we recognized how compatible – and rare – we were. Our dreams for the future are not very common, and finding someone who wants the same things and who we travel and live with so easily is definitely something to be grateful for.

#5 – I have the most amazing friendships.

We’ve mentioned in several blog posts how powerful friendships and bonds made abroad can be. We have so much in common with our friends out here, and we have a ton of stories together.

But living as an expat has also made me thankful for my friends back home. Before I left, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to stay in touch. Not only am I more active and busy than I used to be, the time zone difference makes communication tricky. Sometimes I wonder if my friends will eventually just write me off as someone who isn’t really important to their lives anymore – but every time I do hear from them or get a chance to catch up, I feel just as close and important as ever.

If you’re an expat living abroad, can you relate to any of these? What would you add to the list. And if you’re an American expat, how are you celebrating Thanksgiving while away from home?

TRAVELERS OFTEN GET ASKED HOW WE’RE ABLE TO FIND THE MONEY, TIME, OR COURAGE TO GO ABROAD.

WANT TO KNOW HOW WE DO IT?

CLICK HERE FOR A FREE GUIDE.

Travel Blog Posts We Love and Hate

We’re approaching our 75th blog post on SiDash Travels, and sometimes we can’t believe we’ve written as much as we have! Coming up with new content each week is both challenging and fun.

Some of our ideas are excellent (if we do say so ourselves) and others are better left off our brainstorm lists.

We also love to read other travel blogs for inspiration and our own entertainment. Doing so, we’ve become quite opinionated about the content of prefer.

There are certain types of posts we love and would be eager to read from any of our favorite bloggers. But some posts have also become overdone or we haven’t found very useful.

At the risk of a controversial post, we’d like to explore both types. Keep in mind, this is just our opinion – take it all with a grain of salt.

 

Posts We Love to Read

Travel Mistakes

We recently shared our biggest mistakes, and we were definitely inspired by the brilliant and hilarious posts we’d already read on this topic.

It’s a shame that people don’t share these stories more often. They are entertaining, memorable, relatable, and helpful for other travelers. What more could you want in a blog post?

When you make a mistake on a trip, it’s normal to think “how could I have been so stupid! Surely no one else has ever screwed up like this before.”

But people have – and sharing these experiences with each other is so refreshing.

Charity Projects and Volunteerism

We are able to travel the way we do largely thanks to our careers as ESL teachers. And while our paychecks are definitely a necessity, one of our big dreams is to be able to teach as volunteers one day – specifically in developing countries, or to children living in poverty or with refugees.

We know there are plenty of people who have done something like this – but we haven’t found many blog posts sharing the experience. We want to read about a real experience, including both positives and negatives.

If anyone has done anything like this, please share your stories with us! It will be at the top of our reading lists.

 

Honesty

If you’ve read our blog, you probably won’t be surprised that we love a good rant. Overly-positive travelers are just not our cup of tea – sorry! We want to know what annoys you, and we want you to get really passionate about it.

Many posts seem to butter up traveling to be perfect all of the time – that just isn’t reality. Tell us why you hated taking a night bus in Southeast Asia. Fess up when street food gives you the runs. It’s real, and we love it.

 

Unusual Recommendations

When researching for our next trip, it’s not long before every blog starts to sound the same. Finding a unique suggestion is so difficult, but so valuable.

We are desperate for information about a bar that’s hidden away or a sight that no one would think to see – give us a random adventure!

Posts We’re a Little Sick of Seeing

Packing Lists

Confession: we tend to pack in less than 10 minutes, usually moments before we head out the door and to the airport.

Packing isn’t complicated, and we certainly don’t need a unique list for every country or city we visit. We know what to pack when the weather is hot, and we know what to pack when the weather is cold. Other than that, what changes?

Does anyone really use these lists?

 

Top Things to Do (In a Whole Country)

Unlike packing lists, we believe these posts should be way more specific. When talking about a huge region, the suggestions get way too generic. Cut it down to a specific city – even better, a neighborhood. Then surprise us with your suggestions. Show that you really know the place you’re talking about and give us some real tips we won’t find somewhere else.

This is especially needed for blog posts on huge countries like China or Australia. Narrow it down, please!

 

“Our Day”

Here is some tough love for us all: unless you have a truly interesting story to share (see “Travel Mistakes” above), only your mother is really going to want to read about “your day in Rome.”

There are many reasons someone might read your blog. None of the reasons have much to do with you – so ask yourself, what is the reader getting from this writing? Useful insight? Laughter? Something they can relate to? An addicting story? The last one is probably the hardest to pull off, and you need something very rare and unique in order to do so.

 

SEO Arse Licking

Okay, we get it – Google is a powerful beast in this game. As bloggers, Google can make or break us all. When Google is happy, we are happy, and when Google isn’t that into us, we might as well hang up our hats and head home.

But as tempting as it is to make every content decision with Google front and center, we believe that our readers are really the most important key to our success.

Ranking high in search results means nothing if no one actually enjoys our articles or comes back for more.

Writing for Google alone can quickly give you a library of boring, skimmable articles that just hit the right keywords – is that what you imagined when you decided to start a blog? Is it actually what you want write? Because it’s certainly not what we want to read.

We’ll admit, this is probably a controversial post, but we hope most of you can relate.

Or maybe you have your own preferences and pet hates – these are just our opinions and we’d love to hear yours. Let us know what you think!

 

TRAVELERS OFTEN GET ASKED HOW WE’RE ABLE TO FIND THE MONEY, TIME, OR COURAGE TO GO ABROAD.

WANT TO KNOW HOW WE DO IT?

CLICK HERE FOR A FREE GUIDE.