Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Mina
The Black Expat: Living Abroad Helped Me Find My Partner
For Mina, living in different countries has always been apart of her life. As a woman who was born in London with Ghanaian roots, she lived between both countries growing up. Therefore, she never really found a true home base.
Once she was older, venturing to other countries for extended stays was very easy for her. While she is currently back in London, she did spend some time living in Italy and South Korea. She is already scoping out which country to call home next.
We spoke with Mina via email about her experiences and she offers advice to those looking to move abroad one day.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to move abroad?
Mina: Ever since I was little, I loved learning new things. My favorite question was why. So, I think that my biggest inspiration was to learn more about the world. I recognized that the cultural understanding and meaning you get on a longer stay is way deeper than you’d get on vacation. I wanted to experience it as many times as possible.
As an introvert, making these moves alone was an obvious decision for me, plus I quite liked the freedom! It’s much easier to change, grow and be yourself when you’re not with anyone that has these fixed ideas of you.
TN: Walk us through your journey of living in various countries?
Mina: It’s hard to pinpoint the start as I’m British born, but Ghanaian ethnicity. I have lived in Ghana as a child before too. So in a way, I’ve never really felt like I had one true base. This all led me to do a year studying abroad in Italy during my biology degree. After graduation, I spent some months traveling in Central America before heading to Spain to do a TEFL(Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course.
Teaching English is what eventually brought me to South Korea. EPIK is a great program and option for anyone who wants to live abroad and make money at the same time. I give lots of tips on that on my channel as people ask very often.
TN: How has life improved for you?
Mina: I feel like it’s given me so many special memories in a short span of time and I’m a much better conversationalist than I was as a teenager. I feel like I could talk to anyone about anything. It’s also increased my understanding of people and the world in general, from a broader viewpoint. I think I might be slower to anger because I have learned to pause and try to understand things from a different perspective.
Surprisingly, it has seemed to improve employment prospects. If shows prospective employers that you’re capable of adapting. Oh, and I met my partner out there too, so shout out to Korea for that. After traveling solo for so long, it’s nice to have a partner and he takes the best photos.
TN: What struggles have you faced while abroad?
Mina: The biggest thing for me which I faced for the first time ever in South Korea, was loneliness. At some point, you can keep meeting tons of new people, but people come and go frequently. So just when you feel you’re getting closer, someone goes home. For a while, it felt like I had lots of light-hearted friends but no one to talk to about the deep stuff. It helps to have other friends who have also lived abroad because I feel like it’s a very specific kind of loneliness.
TN: What advice can you give to those who want to move abroad?
Mina: Honestly my advice is JUST DO IT. If there’s a place you’ve been wanting to get to know, do your research into it and take yourself over there once you can.
So many people said to me how brave it was to just move somewhere and how they wish they were brave enough. I feel like courage has nothing to do with it. It’s just being motivated enough to take a risk. I always say, high risk can lead to high rewards– so take a leap of faith. Life is too short!
TN: Where can we find you online?