Thursday, July 28, 2011

Expat Alert! Unexpected Changes When Moving to Another Country

I've been thinking about these things for a while. I did prepare myself for a lot of things before I moved to India but there are some things I just never saw coming. If you're planning on moving to another country you have probably thought about some of the changes that will occur in your life as well. Here are a few you may not have thought of.

Hair - Since moving to India my hair has changed colors and the texture has changed. Before my hair was medium brown, very fine, super soft and easily became stringy. Now it is very dark brown with a lot of white strands, uncooperative, dry and sticky. As in, it stick to my face and I have the worst time getting it off, even if I'm not sweaty and sitting in the AC. It's like glue. When I go to wash it, it barely absorbs water it's so dry. I've notice fabrics do the same thing here. This is a very minor annoyance, but a change I've noticed nonetheless.

Skin - My skin quality is one of the first things I noticed changing when I got here. My skin before was very thick and tough feeling. My pores were very large and my skin was always excessively dry. (It was fun freaking out the home skin care ladies when they tried to demo their products on me lol.) Shortly after coming here my pores shrank, my skin looked much more healthy and radiant and now feels so soft and smooth. I rarely even use lotion as my skin hasn't dried out enough to need it. I swear I look 10 years younger most days just because of this alone and I already looked young for my age. As a bonus for me, with less dry skin it doesn't itch as much and I don't seem to have any of the allergic reactions I had in the US.

Allergies - In the US I took daily medications for my allergies. I missed one pill and my head was spinning and I was sneezing like crazy. My eyes would swell and water (or just one eye most times lol) and I would be miserable. Since moving to India I haven't taken allergy medicines a single time and I've had no reactions to the weather.

Smell - In the US my skin smelled like medicine. It was nice really because even though I smelled like a pill bottle, mosquitoes and ants wouldn't bite me. I didn't need repellent. >:D I was happy with that. Now that I'm here, I still take the same medicine as in the US that caused that pill bottle smell but I can't smell it on my skin. I smell like a combination of the soap we use and the water here. I'm not sure I'm too crazy about that smell and now the mosquitoes seem to love me when the repellent is not on. I'm not too crazy about the smell of the water here either. I'm pretty sure there is more sulfur in it than US water and that's why. Regardless, I still shower in it every day lol...what can u do u know?

Physical Strength - In the US I walked a lot in the course of my daily routine. My thigh muscles were very strong though I lacked good upper body strength. I had the time and opportunity daily to add in additional exercise. Here the lifestyle is so vastly different that I barely get any exercise at all. I spend most of my day sitting around the house. I do go up and down stairs here several times a day but I walk significantly less and there is no real place to be able to engage in exercise and the prospect of going to a gym here is not working out at all. My muscles are becoming weaker. I try to exercise in the bed and go out for walks whenever I can, but it is not enough. (I'm still losing more weight than in the US though so I'm not complaining too much...I just miss my She-Ra leg muscles!)

Food - You already know food will be a change so that's not what I'm proposing. Each country has different guidelines and regulations for the processing, storage and sale of food. Here in India the food doesn't have the hormones and chemicals that US food has. Taking all of that out of my diet caused me to go through a (not so pretty) detox phase. Now, I can't be sure because of all the sickness I suffered but, I suspect that the detox was mostly responsible for my swinging moods after arrival. I had some episodes reminiscent of being bipolar. I would be so angry that I'm certain my face was red and eyes black and then I would just start crying like I never cried before. Thankfully that phase is over lol.

Nail Polish - I brought my own nail polish from the US so I can honestly say this has nothing to do with quality/brand/etc. My nail polish lasts 3 times as long here in India and is harder to get off even with acetone. It doesn't chip, even when I scrub my nails with a brush. I use the nail brush to scrub with the acetone to get it off and even then it's a challenge for some of my colors that I put on (mostly the glitter polish). When I'm painting, the paint dries almost instantly and sometimes I find it hard to get some nails painted before the paint is drying under the brush. This is a good bonus.

Sleep - I've never had too much trouble sleeping no matter where I stayed. That is, until I got to India. I always slept like a rock before but now I find myself waking up a lot, uncomfortable a lot. I'm sure it's a combination of the lifestyle changes and the stress and the mattresses but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. I sleep a lot more now that I'm here than I did back in the US. In the US if I slept more than 7 hours or less than 6 hours I was miserable. Anything in between and I felt good, rested and ready to face my day. Here, I'm packing on 8-10 at a minimum and then I take naps or refuse to wake up I'm so exhausted and spend about 14 in bed every so often. So even though my lifestyle has become more sedentary, it is so hard on my body physically here that I crash on a regular, recurring basis.


  1. Sounds like some pros and cons in there, but it's great you're adjusting enough to reflect on your experiences :)
    I get pretty exhausted when in Nepal and India my case I think it's the dust and smog in the cities, because I usually feel heaps chirpier over when I get out somewhere with clean air.

  2. Thank goodness I'm finally adjusting lol. This has been rough but I know in the long run it will make me a better, stronger person. I know the dirt has a hand in keeping me down, at least depressed anyway. Looking at this mess will make you depressed.

  3. I can definitely relate to the sleeping part. I get a lot more hours of sleep in India, yet I'm exhausted every day and I feel like my eyes are burning due to the lack of sleep. I'd attributed that to the pollution in the air but I think there's something more going on.

  4. I read somewhere once that if you start sleeping too much it can make you want to sleep more. I'm not sure how true that is though. I know the heat here makes a huge difference. It wears your body down a lot faster. Being out in sunlight also wears you out. Heavy foods can too. I think the odds are against us lol. So I just sleep and get over it.

  5. some good and bad experience in happens..even if any Indian move to US same things can happen with him/'s good that few bad phases has gone. :)

  6. So true vertu! When I lived in the US my hair was unmanageable and very full of static. This has been quite a learning experience and I have a new found appreciation for any immigrant to the US.