How to live your best expat life

29 september 2020

Door: Jona Hax

The top 5 books that gave me a wake up call when living abroad

How many of you read books or e-books these days? What kind of books do you read? I want you to think about this for a while before you continue reading.

These days being busy and overloaded have become the new cool trend. There is so much out there trying to push people to become overachievers, hustlers, entrepreneurs, etc. you name it.

I am all about pushing people to do more, to develop their mindsets further, and be open to new opportunities, but in order to accomplish this you need to accomplish yourself first. One way to learn about yourself and invest in character development is via books. As a book lover that I am, I believe in the power of written stories because they can open new mind doors and can serve as a guideline for one’s personality.

When internationals start living abroad, they automatically have to adjust to new experiences, lifestyles, and sometimes even mindsets. Not all handle it well. Some have to find out the right strategies by taking the hard way, having tryouts, and failures, including myself.

Here comes the good part, though. Nowadays, there’s a never-ending stream of information, knowledge, and experiences. Whatever you can think of already exists somewhere out there.

This is incredible because it means we now have access to information more than ever before. We are blessed, in a way, to learn about tricks and tips that can improve or simplify the struggles that we have to face in our lives, by learning from others who have already been there before.

For this blog, I compiled a list with my top 5 favorite books that helped me embrace and enjoy my expat experience. Check it out below.

Start with Why

Simon Sinek

I remember my first encounter with Simon Sinek was through a TED talk about deep motivation. I was towards the end of my first academic year and was realizing how much practical knowledge and skills I needed to develop. I remember looking up sites to get some motivation, and without realizing it, I ended up getting Sinek’s bestseller book. At first, I was skeptical and thought, Oh, here we go again, another motivational book about getting to know yourself, etc. I am quite skeptical of the books that immediately become bestsellers and popular. Quantity for me doesn’t necessarily mean quality, but this time the book proved me wrong. I became hooked the moment I started reading about the three golden circle theory, the Why, the How, and the What. I envisioned them and started to comprehend how they could be applied in my life context. The key concept was pretty straightforward, you need to seek your Why of living, your Why of doing the things that you are doing. Simply try to answer the questions: Why are you living this life the way you do? What are you doing to fulfill your life goals? I think Sinek brilliantly captured some of the most complex, existential questions in a very simplistic way and put them together in a single puzzle. The more pieces you place together, the more you will understand. An eye-opener book, indeed. If you want to get a summary of what the book is about, check out the following link and watch his ted talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA

The path made clear: discovering your Life’s Direction and Purpose

Oprah Winfrey

I have to admit I am a big fan of Oprah. I mean this woman is blessed with an incredible amount of talents and skills. The first book I bought from Oprah was Own it, which was a summary of some of her most famous quotes and phrases throughout the years. I finished it super-fast but decided to reread it. When she later launched her new book, I didn’t hesitate to order it because it was almost like a calling. Finding your purpose and figuring out how to nourish it. I mean, every undergraduate finds themselves stuck at some point. If there’s one key feature that identifies this woman is her ability to help people seek what they like to do, and this time I wanted to get her guidance, too. Oprah includes various stories and passages from some of her special tv show guests in the book and somehow manages to piece them together. You have to read it to find out what makes those interviews so special. When it comes to the narration style, I think the book is a 10/10, and I would highly recommend it especially to all the undergraduates who are still figuring out who and what they want to become. Lastly, I want to add that the hardcover version of the book is very nice and it comes with beautifully illustrated pages, each of them depicting various natural landscapes.

Atomic Habits

James Clear

The holy bible to understanding your existing habits and to developing new ones

When it comes to habits, the one thing I want to accomplish is learning how to improve them. We all know the things we’re good at as well as the things we are kind of bad at. The latter category is not nice to witness, I am not amused when I see them in myself, it can get a bit messy up there. But none of us is perfect and has the answer to everything, so we all end up developing our ways of tackling life. This is the core issue that is being investigated in Atomic habits. Just by looking at the title alone, Atomic Habits, Tiny changes, remarkable results the reader gets a good perception of what this book might be about. I think once you start reading the first pages, you automatically want to keep reading, for it’s the type of storytelling that makes you want to learn more. You have the answers, they are there but you are not using them the right way, this is in a nutshell what Clear wants you to realize. In my opinion, his approach to giving advice and tracking your habits is rather remarkable for he explains it in very easy words. (that way everyone can follow what he means or what he is referring to. Simple stupid sometimes is the smartest way of doing things and Clear embodies that in this bestselling book.

How to win friends and influence people

Dale Carnegie

When it comes to people’s relations, how we make friends, and how we manage our social life, we always tend to separate it a bit from our professional life. I had this misconception for a long time that having friends and building new relationships was secondary, for I needed to realize my goals first and then turn to the world and share it with them. I think some of us learn by experience and eventually figure out that friends, connections, and social ties, tell a lot about who we are and are crucial for who we become. We want people to like us, to appreciate what we do, we want them to agree with our worldviews, but sometimes we just don’t know how to do all that. This is where Carnegie’s book comes into action. He can teach you and guide you on all those subjects and more. Considered as a must-read piece for the 21st century, How to win friends and influence people needs to be part of your library capsule. Trust me on this. Even though you might think: Come on, making friends, being social, I got all that, there’s much more to that. This book is guidance to deepen your established relationships even further. By suggesting a friendlier voice tone, remembering how to smile, or avoiding criticism, Dale Carnegie enlightens you with tactics that you can easily apply. What I like most about this book is the step by step explanation of the principles that we can follow to influence and improve the relations with the people around us. An essential reminder, for the generation of electronic devices, whose lives are becoming more virtual, social media-dependent, and more isolated. Even though this book was published in the late ’30s, I think that Carnegie’s set of advice is like a goldmine, the further you dig, the more you will reflect and learn. Like I mentioned earlier, investing in our social skills, translates into more success in your professional life. A 10/10 and recommended for everyone who wants to succeed in life.

Daring Greatly

Brene Brown

One of my personal, all-time favorite books has got to be Daring greatly from Brene Brown. In addition to loving Brene’s passion for researching and understanding people’s emotions and relations, I love how she makes you think about the best parts of you without neglecting to reflect on the parts you can improve. The first pages of the book capture the essence of what it means to dare greatly. She begins the introduction with a passage from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech given in Paris in 1910.

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood… who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

I don’t know what this quote could trigger in you, but I was so affected by it I even looked up the actual speech and wanted to find more about Roosevelt’s legacy. This is the power of good literature, it motivates you and it speaks to you on a completely new level. I would highly recommend this book to all the expats because I think it will inspire you to step out of your comfort zone, learn how to take the lead, and stop hesitating yourself. I would also suggest the other books that Brown has written, namely Dare to lead and Rising strong, but that is up to you.

You don’t have to read all the upper mentioned books but I would highly encourage you to at least select one of them. Perhaps it is nice to mention that they are all quite affordable hence you don’t need to spend a fortune to acquire a physical or a digital copy. It’s a true investment and you will see the long-term benefits. 

If you have any other recommendations or would like to share your thoughts with us please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via our social media.

I hope this was a pleasant and useful reading for you all.

Till next time folks,

Sincerely,

Jona Hax