Want to Move Abroad? Don’t Seek Opinions

I’ve read on a number of sites and heard from a number of people about their thoughts to moving abroad. Family members aside, one common factor always seem to unsettle them – friends.

Perhaps the friendship I have with the one single friend I consider my best friend (never understood why people have more than one best friend) is far from what these people have. Nevertheless, with regard to opinion-seeking, I’d say NO. And if I could emphasize that further, I would.

What brought me to this epiphany wasn’t so much the daily stories I keep hearing, but more a blog page of someone who drew a flowchart on his decision to migrate to Australia. He included “My friends are supportive” in the chart, and if the answer is a “No”, the arrow brings you to “Stand up for Singapore”.

My friend(s) say it’s very dangerous.

My friend(s) say this is not a good time.

My friend(s) say I should go somewhere else.

For those who toyed with the idea of moving abroad and ended up staying because of unsupportive friends, the above may seem familiar. And you never realise, you always make your own decisions on what to eat but you leave this major life-changing decision to your friend.

How I got past this objectional stage that many people seem to face was really simple.

Keep the unnecessary people out of the process.

The simple rule.

Ask those who matter. Inform those you care. Ignore the rest.

When I say “ask”, I do not mean to ask for opinions. If I did, it would be the biggest slap to the title with a trout (if you didn’t get the IRC reference, you’re probably really young). Before I came some 2 years ago, the only people I asked were my parents and the only question I asked was how they would feel when I’m in Japan. Not whether I should go. If they think they’re OK, then excellent. If they’d feel lonely and miss me, I’d work out ways we could solve that. And when the decision was made, I informed my close friends but never did I ask for their opinions.

However, if I say there weren’t any objections, that’d be a lie. Having been the son for so long, I know my dad. His reflex is set to disagree by default. To be honest, I’m a little like him and if I were good at it, I’d probably be a litigator. Although China was still staring at Japan in the ass in the economy race then, they were catching up real quick and everyone was looking to paint their faces red and yellow and scream Maodeka! Dad very naturally told me to go China instead. I said no.

/ignore dad

At my cousin’s wedding, he told everyone that I was going to Japan to teach and it included a very rich distant relative of mine, who really is more like a stranger whom I see once a decade. She owns several English language schools in China and was opening another one in Zhejiang at that time. Over dinner at the banquet, she asked me a few questions on my views on different pedagogies which felt like a quick casual “interview” and then asked if I wanted to teach at the new school. With a rich relative helping me along, I could probably do very well. But I said no.

/ignore relative

You are like the 5 people who surround you the most. That is why, self-help and get-rich-quick books often tell you to surround yourself with successful people. If you want to move abroad, surrounding yourself with travellers may be an option. But more so, don’t seek opinions.

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