Today, there are over 7 billion people living on Earth. Seven billion. I can’t even grasp that. If each person on earth gave me one cent (that’s $0.01), I would have 70 million dollars! To go a little further, it is estimated that about 360,000 babies are born each day. Having just gone through pregnancy/delivery in the past year, I cannot imagine 360,000 pregnant women on a given day. That’s the population of Belize, a country bordering southeast Mexico. But because they’re not all in the same place, pregnant women are a minority all over the world. It’s a temporary state anyway. How about becoming a minority by choice and for longer than nine months?
In this increasingly growing world, it’s most likely that you live among people that are similar to you; this makes you a majority. It is more comfortable and easier than the alternative which is to be a minority. So why should a person leave his or her majority environment to become a minority in another country? Here are five reasons:
1. Get out of your comfort zone.
Awesome things happen when you put yourself in a situation you are not used to. As a minority in a foreign country, you must learn the majority’s ways or figure out your own to do simple things like use a public toilet with no seat. It’s uncomfortable! But then you’ll have powerful quads from all that squatting.
The value is that you learn humility. When you’re a minority, it’s harder to put yourself at the center of the universe. You have to put yourself in other people’s shoes. And why is humility important? Because the world is a happier place with humble people. We share better that way.
2. New outfit choices, TV channels, restaurants and thinking
This point goes without saying. Every country has its unique clothes options, shopping, TV channels, radio stations, restaurants, menu items, weather, landscape… the list is long. However, in a globalizing world, there are options that are available everywhere (i.e. McDonalds). I know too many expats that go to their regular outfit chains and only make friends with other similar minorities. Do NOT do that in a foreign land. Make a conscious effort to befriend a local. Do not constantly watch CNN or BCC if you normally do back home. Watch local channels and pay attention to how their lips move with the words of the foreign language. Wear local outfit styles. Eat at popular local restaurants. Dance to the rhythms of the foreign world you will temporarily call home. Only then, you will start to comprehend its thinking.
3. More time!
Living away from family and friends means that your social calendar is not booked with get-togethers and big occasions. It’s a great excuse if you don’t like that stuff! Suddenly, you have hours on end after work to watch endless amounts of foreign TV channels and really vegetate. You could write a book or learn to draw. Get on Lynda.com and learn a new technical skill. Check out Coursera.org and sign up for an online course. Depending on where you relocate to, you won’t get Skype and WhatApp calls at certain times of the day- bonus points for more productivity! Being a minority forces you to be creative with your time, because it’s harder to do what the majority is doing.
4. Make friends with expatriates from your home country you normally wouldn’t get along with.
People that you would normally not get along with back home would become your friends so easily in a foreign land. Maybe it’s because you both share the commonality of being minorities with the same background or you just have more time. Whatever the case, you will find yourself meeting up with people from your home country in order to reminisce about home; a coping mechanism for the expat life because it ain’t easy.
5. Increase your cultural intelligence (CQ)
The most valuable reason to become an expat is because it increases your cultural intelligence. Read all the books you want about other cultures. Talk to as many people of a minority race as you can. But if you are still sitting in the comfort of your home country, you’ll be making small developments.
Increasing your CQ will most rapidly happen when you’re living in a foreign country where a single thing rarely goes your way because the person sitting next to you most likely doesn’t agree with your thinking. It’s called rapid adaption.
So leave your country if you haven’t before and live amongst those you read about in books, watch in movies, and hear about over social media and the news. Become a minority. You won’t regret it.