Living Outside the USA Has Been Freeing For Me As A Black Man!
I still can’t believe it. Here I am writing this post in a cafe on the other side of the world. Not to mention I was able to write and publish a book in the span of a few months. This is something I never thought I would accomplish in my life. I’m still amazed that I was able to escape the American rat race too. If I was still living in the USA, I would definitely be leading a different lifestyle.
I moved to South Korea in May of 2016 and it has been an experience. These varied experiences have had their ups and downs but I would never trade them for anything. Being able to live abroad has afforded me opportunities and stories to tell to the black community.
I’ve made it my goal to encourage more black people, particularly African Americans, to travel outside the USA and show them that there’s a massive world out there. Part of it could be another home for them. I hope this post will provide the drive or motivation to move abroad, or at least to move outside their state or region.
Being in a country or a part of the world where English isn’t always spoken has led me to become more independent and confident in ways I might not have reached if I was stuck in the rat race back home. When a person leaves their comfort zone and is introduced to a culture or society that’s unfamiliar, they’ll learn to adapt and survive.
Like many ESL teachers around the world, I had to learn to adapt to a homogeneous society that is conservative and not always willing to change. Does this mean I am fluent in Korea? Nope, I wish I was. Over the years I have picked up bits and pieces of the language and tried to learn. It hasn’t been easy but I still push myself to learn.
While in a land whose people have hair textures and lengths completely different from my own, I was forced to learn a skill that I feel that every black man should learn in their lifetime. This skill has been helpful and continues to save me tons of time and money. Since November of 2016, I have cut my own hair.
As any black man knows, having a fresh cut can make or break everything. At the time, I was living in the southeastern city of Masan with no access to a barber who can cut black hair. The only shops I could find that could possibly do the job were in Daegu. That would have taken over 2 hours to travel on a city bus and metro just to get a haircut.
I would have to say living abroad has been a relief for me as a black man. If you ever see a video from The Black Experience Japan or a travel interview, you’ll see a common pattern. Almost every African American that was interviewed has said that living abroad has been such a relief. Myself and many others have felt this relief of not having to worry about being black or the police in another country.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are pros and cons to being an expat. But not having to worry about the police and having the ability to go about my day without fear is such a relieving feeling. I can forget what it’s like to have that mental weight on me. Allow me to paint a metaphoric picture.
It’s the middle of winter and the snow is coming down. You finally make it home and you get that feeling of taking off that heavy winter jacket and tossing it aside until you need it again. That’s how I felt when I moved from the USA. I just tossed my winter jacket of stress and anxiety of being a black man aside. The only time I had to put the jacket back on was visiting family in February 2019. Sure it was nice to see loved ones again, but wearing that uncomfortable jacket was agonizing.
I’m sure 2020 has pushed many African Americans to look at living abroad. Whether it be short-term or a long game, more African Americans are seeing the power of having an American passport. If you or someone you know is hesitating about traveling or living abroad, I’d say go for it!
Life is too short to stay in one city or state for the rest of your life. Now it might work for some, but not all. Before you actually make the decision, make sure you have a plan. Will living abroad solve all of your problems? Most likely no, but hey, it could provide a form of mental relief that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.