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Glimpse: Of the life of an Expat Rotaractor

The past few editions of Glimpse shared the stories of our Rotaractors in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. Today, we bring to you the story of an expat in Estonia. Rtr. Dulitha Wanniarachchi is an expat in Tallinn in Estonia with his beloved wife Ruwini who is also a Rotaractor. The couple moved to Estonia for the completion of their higher studies and here is a glimpse of their experience of making a home away from their motherland.

Q: A move from Sri Lanka to Estonia is quite a change. How did this change come about?

When I was looking for options for higher studies overseas, I came across an opportunity in Estonia. Estonia is an Eastern European country in the Baltics that many had not heard about. So, out of curiosity we did a bit of digging and the facts we found about this country were quite fascinating. Our search concluded with the realization that this country was one which is peaceful, free of corruption and bureaucracy and has clean air. It has mastered e-governance and is a hub of innovation owing to the fact that it is the birthplace of Skype, Transferwise, Starship autonomous delivery robots and many more. So, we were convinced that a move to Estonia is a change worth taking. Being a big fan of travelling, I was delighted about this new experience. But my wife Ruwini was a bit worried about living far away from the family. Considering again the fact that we live in an era where technology brings everyone closer despite their physical locations, this was not an excuse to not take the change we received.

Q: Changes are most often accompanied by challenges. What were the challenges that you had to tackle when stepping into this new life?

Anything could be a challenge, and as you rightly said, a change brings many challenges.

 

We were working in Sri Lanka then. So, from quitting our jobs and searching for jobs in a foreign land was a big challenge. Then, surviving through the extreme cold weather during the period of winter was another.  The list can actually go on, because starting a life in a foreign land among a group of people who don’t really speak English as a first language is not easy.

 

But, with time, you learn to make your way in your new life; you learn how to adapt to you surroundings and to live with different people, how to manage during tough weather conditions etc. You just have to be a bit patient in the beginning.

Q: Challenges are opportunities to expand our horizons in many ways. We strongly believe that the opportunity to be an expat is a chance to expand and experience friendship. How does your experiences relate to this?

Making new friends is all about being open to it. Although Estonians don’t look the most friendly people at the beginning (they usually like to keep their distance until they really get to know you) they’re really fine people to be friends with, and they help you out over and beyond once you give it a bit of time. Also being members in a University here, we’ve made friends from almost all over the world as there are so many international students and expats over here.

What is important in friendship is that you realize that at the end of the day we are all the same. It all comes down to your own values and principles as a human being. That’s the key to making new friends. And what matters about friends is that we set aside our differences and help each other whenever a need arises.

Q: You mentioned that helping each other is the most important in a relationship of friendship. Could you share an instance which you have really experienced this?

Well, information is the key to living abroad. We were fortunate to have friends who willingly shared information which were very useful when we started our life here as expats. We still rely on such information and we are privileged to have friends we are ever ready to source us information we need.

Knowing the value of this friendly gesture, we too are never hesitant to help out people who seek information when they are new to this land. “As Rotaractors we always strive to reach out and make things bright”.

 

Q: What are the final messages that you would like to share with us concluding the story of how being an expat has brought out the best in you?

The decision to be an expat can be daunting at first, because it means that you will have to leave everything you already have and step out of your comfort zone. But realizing that this is an opportunity that will help you grow as an individual is the key to a successful life as an expat.

So when an opportunity knocks on your door go for it. It will open your eyes to the world. Be strong and face the challenges that come your way. Live every moment of your experiences and help others to live their own. You will be able to make a big difference than you imagine.

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