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*Chris James White is a photographer based in Yangon.*
- Are you moving to Myanmar soon?
- Are you thinking about becoming an expat?
- Are you just considering moving here and asking yourself questions along the lines of: OMG. I might become an expat. What the hell? Should I do it?
I am new to Yangon and am far from being an expert on Myanmar. I'm also far from being an expert expat. Still, hopefully I can help a bit!
This is not my first overseas move, but it is the first overseas post with a child. That changes things. In some ways, I have found it easier (socially) with my daughter. In other ways, it's more challenging (helping her cope with the transition, with culture shock, with major change). Like today, when she needed to rant about many things...in front of the driver...about his own culture. Classic, right?
Several years ago, we considered moving to Cambodia. I bought a shit load of books about expat life at that time. After spending....oh...a lot of moola, we decided not to move. I held on to most of the books, even though we were adamant we wouldn't be expats again. Or maybe it was me who was adamant... Hmm...you can see how well that worked out!
I think - deep down - I knew better. Out those books came nearly two years ago as we began to process a possible move to Myanmar.
This is how I process change, especially moves:I read. I research. I read. I process. I cry. I read. I make lists. I worry. I read some more. I make notes. I tell my husband we're crazy. Then I read more. Eventually, I accept the change.
(Wouldn't it be fun to be married to me?! No? Oh, alright then. Moving on...)
The decision to move abroad is not easy. Each family has to decide for themselves what's best for them. Your family's circumstance is different from mine. We chose to take the leap and board a plane. We believed it was the best thing for us, at that time, in our lives.
My top tip if you do move: have a plan. Have a reason for moving, for what you want to get out of it, both personally and as a family.
Many spouses leave their jobs/career behind when they move. It may not be easy to find a new position in a new country. If you are accompanying your spouse, decide how you want to spend the next X amount of years: what you want to accomplish. That way, there's a mission moving forward.
I've set personal goals to accomplish during this period of time. Write more. Work on getting more healthy (OK, I still need to work on that!). Take online courses. Spend time on art. You get the idea.
We also have family goals and when we have not-so-good days (you will have them, of course), these remind us of what we're working towards. That helps.
So, to those who are thinking about becoming expats, thinking about moving to Myanmar, or know you're on your way here, please check out my new pages (tabs) at the top of the blog site. I've created them so you can have easy access to resources about/for:
- Moving to Myanmar (guide books, info on Buddhism, etc.)
- Being an expat (general preparation, including a section on expat women)
- Resources for expat kids (they need 'em, too!), including picture books for younger children and guides for teens. There's also a nice little section on diversity in there.
There's even a couple videos thrown in for good measure. Aren't I nice?
Each book (title in pink) is a link to Amazon where you can buy or just window shop. Or screen shop. Or whatever.
Some of the books in the "Expat" tab may help with your decision-making process. I found "The Expat Expert," "A Moveable Marriage," and "Raising Global Nomads" to be the most useful.
I would recommend your first-stop for info regarding moving to Myanmar should be at the YEC (Yangon Expat Connection) google group. Become a member of the group by emailing: email@example.com