"What is it really like living in Sri Lanka as a foreigner or expatriate*"* An expatriate (sometimes shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing.
I am asked this particular question quite often. My network abroad, tourists visiting Sri Lanka, locals, expat Sri Lankans, and people I don't know but somehow find myself in a conversation with... All, eventually ask me this question.
So, I guess it makes some sort of sense for me to answer it here. Please note that these are my personal opinions, from my perspective, experiences and filtered through my lenses, cultural conditioning and biases. It may or may not resonate with you, but I kindly request you bear it in mind as you read on.
If you're reading this you are either a local in Sri Lanka; a Sri Lankan living abroad; an expat like me residing in Sri Lanka; a tourist / traveler currently in Sri Lanka; or a foreigner living elsewhere in the world.
Either way, what's important is that you're interested in something I have to share about life in Sri Lanka. I honestly believe we all learn things each and every day for ourselves, and from each other. We may eventually determine something from our everyday existence, but when we are placed in an environment that challenges our conditioning or thinking (one that we might not usually be exposed to), there is huge opportunity to learn more rapidly. The challenge is to be open-minded and to recognize beauty or something worthwhile in these instances or situations.
When you first move to a foreign country, as every expat will tell you, it's hard work. From settling in, to making new friends, to adapting to your new environment, and learning how to do things.
It's harder work if...
- there is a civil war in the country and widespread military presence is foreign to you (i.e. when I initially moved here, the civil war had not yet ended);
- you don't speak the local language;
- you're used to living with four seasons and instead there's only one (or two, if you count the monsoon period in a tropical country!);
- you experience culture shock (gah, the initial early days!)
** Please note, the full blog post has been removed as parts of the blog content will be edited for inclusion in an upcoming publication by the author. More information will be made available on the Adventures in a Tuk-Tuk Blog in due course **