Here are 12 things that you will need to make becoming a World Citizen a reality in your own life:
1. Courage: It does take courage to consider even the idea of moving to another country and leaving behind everything that you are familiar and comfortable with.
2. Desire: It takes desire to try something new and doing something that you’ve never done before. It also takes the desire to expand your world view beyond what you have ever known before.
3. Willingness: It takes a willingness to leave your comfort zone and embrace a new adventure enroute to, hopefully, becoming a fuller and more interesting person.
4. Open Mindedness: It takes open mindedness and doing your best to try not to be judgmental about people, customs or ways of doing things that are different than what you’ve known.
I’ve done my dead level best to accept and enjoy Ecuador for what it is and to not constantly be critical of what it is not or how it is different than the U.S.
5. Love of Adventure: It takes being willing to take the risk of embracing adventure and new things like new foods, new world views, new ways of doing things as a part of your daily life living abroad as an expat of whatever country you came from.
For example, I don’t have a car here in Ecuador. I have learned that I can get most anywhere I need to go by bus or taxi or plane. Living at the beach allows me the solitude and the beautiful view from my condo window that I love. But you can’t get great groceries at the beach as there are only very small family owned stores, called “Tiendas” which supply only the very basics.
So this means that I’ve had to embrace a very different weekly “Grocery Adventure” in my life now. Taking an hour bus ride into town for groceries allows me to shop at a more modern sophisticated grocery store by U.S. standards. Then, after my shopping is done, I take a taxi ride home with my bags of purchases. This way of grocery shopping has just become part of my weekly routine now here in Ecuador. There is no more hopping in my car to go to the mall to get something I need. And if I forget to get the item I needed or I couldn’t find it in my weekly shopping trips, I simply do without it. And I save the money on the expenses of owning and maintaining a car as well.
6. Expansion of Language Skills: It takes being willing to expand your language skills. By learning the subtleties of another language, we make it possible for ourselves to fully enter the world and culture of another human being who is different from us. Knowing even the basics of the language of the place you move to helps you to get around, find things you need, ask questions and get answers. Knowing the language is essential I think to eventually feeling really at home in a different country.
One of my unexpected challenges in Ecuador has been that while I was already able to speak Spanish, the Spanish here is a little different. Ecuadorians have different words for basic things like “Bag.” At first here, when I used the word I knew for bag, (and ever Google Translate agrees) “Bolsa,” such as “I need a bag for that please” I quickly learned that my word for “bag” meant “Handbag” to them. The word I should have used for bag in Ecuador was “Funda.” So this means that when I moved here at first, I was actually asking the grocery store or tienda person to “please put my carrots in a purse!”
So even it you think you already know the language of the place you’re moving to, be prepared to make some adjustments and learn some new words!
7. Not Being Afraid to Learn New Things: Being open and willing to try new things is the first step toward understanding the new place that you have moved to. It’s really hard at first to embrace all the things that are new and different about a new country. Daily life is so full of things that are different from where and what you grew up with.
But I’ve learned the hard way that trying to totally recreate your life from your previous home is bound to be met with frustration. There are always things you cannot find for example, such as that one key ingredient for your favorite recipe or that special pan or tool or whatever thing you always relied on back home. It may not exist in your new country.
But by the same token, I’ve learned to ask people here what they do to solve a problem or fill a need. Frankly, I’ve often been surprised to learn about a new tool or a new recipe or a new way of accomplishing something or filling my needs that is easier or better than how I was doing it before. At the very least, leaning something new has allowed me to make use of local ingredients or tools that are actually here rather than sulking about what I couldn’t make or accomplish without my tools or ingredients I was more familiar with back where I came from.
8. Desire: The desire to try to change one’s life in any way can feel daunting. Many of us get to a point in our lives where we really believe that old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But that saying really isn’t ever true. No matter how old you are. you can always learn something new. And having the inner desire to change and learn and grow always precedes the actual change and learning and growth itself in any of our lives.
9. Gratitude: When you live in another country, gratitude for what you do have is essential to a full life. Things may be different and unfamiliar, and you may not have the same “creature comforts” that you are accustomed to. But getting back to the basics of being grateful for what you do have such as a roof over your head, food to eat, a comfortable bed to sleep in and a working internet take on greater importance than being able to go to your favorite coffee shop down the road.
I have noticed that there are many things I have just simply taken for granted being an American, such as being able to see a movie in English anytime I feel like it, either online at netflix or at an actual movie theatre. Seeing a movie at all has take on greater importance. After three months of being here and not seeing any movies because I couldn’t find one in English, I was finally able to see The Hobbit in 3D at an IMAX movie theatre just outside of Quito in a place called Cumbaya. Wow. It felt amazing. I noticed that I felt incredibly grateful for this amazing and entertaining treat of an American movie in English!
10. Focus: To become a World Citizen it is essential to be able to imagine a new life for ourselves and then take focused and thoughtful actions toward making it happen.
You may not know this, but if you move to another country you most likely will only be allowed a 3 month VISA to stay there. And you cannot just blithely over stay your 90 days either. It becomes in some countries an offense that could land you in jail.
So it takes focus to learn about what you have to do in order to stay in a country. I had to learn all about the steps getting a Permanent Residency here in Ecuador. After I accomplished the stamp of Permanent Residency in my passport, I was allowed to apply for a Cedula which is my National Ecuadorian ID Card. Having these two official documents now allows me to open a bank account here and many other benefits.
But I could never have known about all the huge number of steps and where to go to accomplish them toward gaining these two official documents without the help of a very good and trustworthy lawyer. I learned the hard way that the rules both about Permanent Residency and getting a Permanent ID Card are always changing and if you do one thing wrong or in the wrong order or misspell anything, you will have to start the process over again.
So if you are thinking about moving for more than 3 months to another country, do yourself a huge favor: get a good reliable lawyer to help you who is from that country
11. Flexibility: If you don’t like where you have chosen to move, at any time, then there is always another country you can explore. Embracing one’s own flexibility and believing that you can always make another choice is always important to remember when thinking about becoming a World Citizen.
12. Faith: And finally, becoming a true World Citizen takes faith. Faith in yourself that you can do it. Faith that embracing this new concept of yourself in the world is worth the effort. Faith that really, in a spiritual sense, we already are “World Citizens” and as such, this implies a shared responsibility for our world rather than thinking of it as a “turf war.” If we all began thinking of ourselves literally in this way, we could work together to make “Our World” a place of Peace, Justice, Hope and Freedom.
Stepping out of the box
So it may not have occurred to you to actually move to another country. While I have travelled all over the world for work and pleasure, actually living in a new country is very different than traveling.
However, I would have to say that moving to a new country and learning to think of myself as a World Citizen it is one of the best things I have ever done in my life. While it has been hard and challenging and frustrating at times, moving to a new and very different country such as Ecuador has also given me a new perspective on myself and my life in this world. It has also given me a new future that I could not have believed possible, for both me and my family
Embracing The Unknown
For many of us, fear overcomes our sense of adventure and that fear prevents us from taking the step to embrace another country and culture. I sure had many feelings of fear before moving to Ecuador. But that fear need not hold any of us back from giving another country a try.
We always have the freedom of choice, for good or ill, at every moment of our lives. And that freedom of choice is our greatest freedom of all.
What has being a World Citizen been like for you?
PS: Would you like more ACCURATE, AUTHENTIC and UP TO DATE INFORMATION about ECUADOR?
WORDS TO THRIVE BY FOR WORLD TRAVELERS: FOOTPRINTS IN ECUADOR by Mary Anne Dorward
RELATED POSTS AND LINKS:
- Becoming A World Citizen And Why It’s Important: PART 1 http://wp.me/p47vLx-c4
- Additional Links:
- For More on the Life and Work of Mary Anne Dorward, please go to: www.maryannedorward.com
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