Aldous Huxley once said, "To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries". But what does he know? He was just another overrated dead white guy paranoid about "the future" and it's trillion and one imagined ways of alienating us from ourselves. Why waste time and money actually going places and feeling things out, when a quick google search can tell you anything you need to know about anything? So you want to move abroad. Or at least, travel more. Forget all that bullshit about jumping. Forget about learning by doing. Forget about educating yourself on great travel deals, saving up and planning a series of small trips to places you might be interested in so that you can see, hear and feel for yourself. You can cross so many places off your list, keep yourself from countless amazing adventures, keep the world from surprising and amazing you, by following these 5 basic rules for failing at expat life.
1. Believe everything you hear. The traveler's tale, in which a story of being stung by a jellyfish in Rockaway turns into a mad swimming dash to elude the jaws of a real life Jaws, is a myth. Not only should you buy everything you hear wholesale, you should apply it directly to your experience (or lack thereof). I was reading the comments section of a popular interracial dating site the other day, when one woman decided to play "expert on Europe". "The Spanish and the Portuguese have the same mentality. Their languages are similar so they understand each other and you know, neither place is good for black women," she said, spoken like someone who speaks neither language nor has any real connection to either culture. Now that's a reliable source.
2. Believe everything you read. Look, people don't lie or exaggerate or extrapolate but especially not in print. Whatever you read, in a book, in a magazine, on a blog, MUST be true. It's not like Jayson Blair ever happened.
3. Race first. Those horror stories, and every other horror story you've ever heard about racism abroad? They are all 100% true! You'd be a fool not to heed the warnings. Better safe than sorry. Racism is serious business. A well place 'nigger' or anything that even sounds close will break you. Why risk it?
5. Live vicariously. I just need to reiterate how pointless it is to actually go places and do stuff, when you can just listen to people jabber about it. As you see about the world filtered through someone else's lense, whether they're wearing rose colored glasses or...whatever the opposite of those would be, you've got to decide whether you'll let it guide or replace your own vision for yourself and your life. "I've ex-ed France off the list because I heard French men don't date women who are over a size 0" is the latter. Enough of this kind of thinking eventually exes you out of the game, which is always the desired goal, right?
The good news is, you are right. Whatever you think, you're right. Your race, your gender, your social class (whatever the fuck that means these days), the size of your ass, the mole on your left cheek--they are all liabilities. They are all, big or small, there to X you out of the game. You in fact can't make it in the wider world. Best to know your limitations. Socrates ain't say "Know thy place". He said "Know thyself".