My name is Cedric, I am 26 years old and I am from Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been living the expat life abroad now for 2 years now and have worked abroad in China, Czech Republic and now Malaysia.
What was the hardest adjustment you had to make living abroad?
The hardest adjustment I had to make living abroad was forcing myself to always be social even when I was in an introverted mood. When you move somewhere new sometimes it can be overwhelming and you just want to relax and I prefer to keep to myself. However, it’s also important to build a sense of family or friends while living abroad. This means engaging and interacting with people everywhere you go. Also, while traveling or living abroad you have the chance to meet people from many different countries. So instead of sitting around with headphones, I often force myself to talk to people and have found people to be generally receptive of me. In the states, I had the same set of friends for years. The whole Drake, ‘no new friends” was real for me. However, abroad I want all the new friends I can find. I like having friends from different countries and living in different countries.
What practical piece of advice would you give those planning to live abroad?
A practical piece of advice I’d give to those planning to live abroad is to be open to destinations. Growing up I assumed living abroad meant London or Paris. Never in a million years did I imagine my first international location would be China and that’s exactly why I decided to move there. I would say go somewhere that will push you outside of your comfort zone. Learning how to adapt in any environment is one of the biggest skills you could have. I think because I lived somewhere extremely different like China, and had to deal with Chinese people for a year that I could deal with anyone, anywhere. Once living abroad I’d also say enjoy the bad days as much as the good ones. Those bad days are what build character and adversity. You should want to feel uncomfortable, you should want to feel nervous at times. That’s all a part of the experience and eventually you will shake those feelings and realize you’re a boss! That’s what I did!
What’s your favorite place you’ve visited thus far? Why?
Hmmm, this is like asking a parent who’s their favorite child. I’d have to breakdown this question a bit more. For example, I have multiple favorites for different reasons. Are we talking about for cultural immersion, relaxing, partying or general sight-seeing? I think my favorite country for cultural immersion would be Sri Lanka. The culture is so strong there and different than most places I’ve visited. For relaxing, I’d say Indonesia. It’s very laid back, the people are friendly and there’s a lot to see because the landscapes are different all over. For partying, either Spain or Thailand. But since I’m biased I’ll pick Thailand because I prefer Asia over Europe. It’s cheap, there’s a lot of tourists and you can visit at any time throughout the year and have a lit ass time. For relaxing, the Maldives easily. The country is just so beautiful and the water was easily the most amazing I’ve seen in my life. Some other places I really like are Busan (South Korea), Greece, Hong Kong and Italy.
Which country holds the top spot on your travel bucket list? And why?
The entire continent of Africa. The only country I’ve been to thus far where black people are the majority is St. Maarten. I can’t wait until I am able to touch down in the motherland. I just want to be surrounded my powerful blacks. I want to learn about the different cultures, tribes. I want to witness a true safari and I know I could experience all these things in Africa. In America I really didn’t interact with many Africans. Abroad, I’ve met SO many Africans abroad and I love it. I have many friends from Nigeria, Sudan, Libya, Madagascar, Tunisia, Sierra Leone and Liberia to name a few. Growing up I was under the assumption Africa was very poor and corrupt. However, the older I am the more I realize that’s just the unfortunate way the media chose to portray that entire continent. I’d love to visit and share my experiences with my family and friends.
Do you have a country or city that left you disappointed?
Easily Singapore. I went there with high hopes and was extremely disappointed. Especially since it’s near such amazing countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. It’s forgettable and doesn’t compare to its neighbors. There’s absolutely no culture there and nothing that stands out about the country. Outside of having a pretty downtown area the city leaves a lot to be desired. There’s nothing memorable about it either. The food, bland. The people, dry. I’m just not a fan. What’s funny is I went back a second time hoping I’d have a change of heart and I felt the same exact way.
How do you decide what destination to visit next?
Truthfully, I have a long list of places I want to visit and when I decide on my next destination I just see which location has the best flight deal. I like to pick the deal not the destination. I also do my research because I like to visit places during off season because prices are typically lower and not as crowded. I think these factors play a huge part in how much I enjoy a place. For example, I went to Sri Lanka in monsoon season so there weren’t many tourists there and my experience was so much more authentic and raw than had I visited during peak season.
Has travel been a window or a mirror to you? Explain
Good question. Hmmm, I would say travel has been more of a window than a mirror for me but in actuality it’s been both. At this point I’ve traveled to thirty different countries. Interacted with hundreds, if not thousands of people who I would have never met. Because of these interactions I’ve learned so much about the world and other cultures. I’ve had my perceptions changed and altered about stuff I thought I knew. Therefore, in return it has also been a mirror. I’d be doing myself a disservice if I wasn’t constantly evolving or allowing my experiences to change me. Living abroad allows you to look at things from different perspectives and realizing that you aren’t always right.