What living abroad has taught me.

When I made the decision to live and teach abroad I was looking to fully emerge in the culture in which I was living, travel, and experience the world hands on! I had never set foot outside of the good ole USA and this was my opportunity to embrace all the world had to offer me. Naturally, I had some expectations and some fears of what this would actually be like. I knew what I wanted to get out of this but the reality of what it gave me was what I wasn’t prepared for. These lessons have helped redefine me as a person. They have increased my knowledge and built my character. Living abroad has taught me….


I have often heard celebrities say they are not role models. I respectively disagree with this statement. I believe you don’t chose to be a role model. If you are in a position for people to look up to you and value your actions and opinions, then you may be a role model for them. It’s a matter of personal view, not personal choice. When I moved to China I realized that people watched me. Not just Chinese and Asian people but everyone that wasn’t from America. They made judgments and reassurances about Americans based on MY behavior. They asked questions about being “Black in America” and wanted confirmation on their preconceived ideas. I understood very quickly that I had influence in the groups I entertained and with the people I befriended. I can say that this is true today as I am here in Japan. Now I don’t have all the answers, and I am not AMERICA. I am however a representation of that which I came from, whether I like it or not.


First of all home sickness is real! Whew, it hits you at times when you least expect it. You’re fine one day and the next day you feel like you’re not going to make it! I have realized that many aspects of home sickness is simply just missing the comforts of home. Oh how I took for granted SO many things! Just being able to walk into a store and ask somebody for help with the things I need, or walking into a restaurant to order dinner from a menu. When you are used to a certain way of life, everything that is not ordinary challenges you. You quickly began to appreciate the comforts of the place you call home.



I have always been obsessed with culture! I find it so intriguing how people all over the world do things so differently. I find it amazing what things different people value and traditions they keep. Culture is undeniably one of the most fascinating social behaviors on this planet! I value every experience of culture that I have and can learn while I am living abroad. As I learn about other cultures, I also take pride in appreciating my own.


You know, I never thought I would be as proud as I am now to be able to fluently speak English! When you see so many people around the world going through great lengths to learn this oh so complicated language, you realize how important it is. When I travel, I see how countries cater to the English language. People realize that although they are perfectly fine in their country speaking their native language, they understand the power that the English language gives them outside and within their country. Hats off to all those that seek to learn English and become fluent. Especially those that have taught themselves! English is one of the most difficult languages to learn. I definitely feel privileged.


WOW! I had no idea! Some of the comments I have received and conversations I have been in about people’s views of Americans have been unbelievable! Here are just a few of the comments I have received:

“You Americans are so optimistic!”

“You’re from America, ahhh BANG, BANG!”

“We just sit around and wait for the next mass shooting to happen there!”

“I am so scared to go to America!”

“I’m surprised at how nice you are!”

Although some of these comments are not surprising, it is however surprising to hear them from people. I have learned so much about how people see Americans. Things I would have never known before.

DSC_0140 (2)


I have experienced some breathtaking situations. Some moments that caused me to take a step back and really think about what is happening around me at that particular time. Sometimes I get lost behind my camera and I find myself putting it away and reminding myself to take in this moment! To breath that air, to capture that feeling, and to embrace that experience. I have especially found this with meeting people along this journey. It’s hard for me at times because I tend to have a hard time saying “goodbye” and understanding that I may only have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful person I met for a very short time. This causes me to really take in each moment and cherish it. To not think about the past or the future, but to only consider the present.


American music is everywhere!! Everyone also expects you to want to hear American music. I have been in restaurants that have changed the music to HARD CORE rap, and OLD SCHOOL R&B when I walk in the door. Almost all stores I go in here in Japan are already playing American music. I have a friend who is from South Africa who tells me about how the American music culture affects the culture in her hometown. They refer to hairstyles by music celebrity names, like “I want isidabrats” (thick braids like Da Brat) and “I want Isisnoopy” (refers to cornrows like Snoop Dog). I have found in general that American culture is copied and highly sought after. Everyone is truly watching the U.S.A.!!


I have watched so many people trying to be like someone else. These days, I’m just interested in learning how to make myself happy and doing what I am purposed to do. Traveling alone and living abroad alone has taught me to really love myself and enjoy my own company.


I can’t even begin to explain the survival of living in another country in which you don’t speak the language. Somehow, I have learned how to maneuver and get things done! I have found that there is always another way to do something. There is always a yes to that no! I’ve become clever with communicating and patient with processes. All in all I have learned to survive. I have learned that I am a survivor!


7 replies
  1. Robb
    Robb says:

    Wow that was exciting I hope your siblings got this Torry,Jay, Johnathan, Tessa,Champ neice,nephew’s I am so proud of you I lived abroad so I understand you.live your dream keep growing. Robb

    • Tiffany
      Tiffany says:

      Thanks so much Robb!!! I hope that I can be a good example and great big sister! Thank you for your comment and your support! Love you!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *