In 2018, I sold all my belongings and left California for Poland. At the time, people found it strange that I was leaving the “American Dream” behind for something unknown.
I grew up in Malaysia, in a small city called Johor, which is nearby Singapore. My father made a choice to send me to primary school in Singapore since they had a better education system and English was taught as the first language. English is widely used in many countries and it will be useful when studying abroad.
While my parents did not intend to send me to America, things got worst during the 2000 financial crisis. My dad lost his business, and our family had to borrow some money from a good friend to stay afloat.
At that time, my aunt was already in US and she actually applied for the green card back in 1990. Surprisingly, we got approved right when the crisis happened, so our family decided to start a new life in California, USA.
As a young teenager at 16, I was unaware of my dad’s struggles and thought we were going to California like a middle class family sending kids to a nice school. To my dad’s credit, he hid his struggles so well from my sister and I. Looking back, I could only have imagined the amount of stress my dad went through.
At the time of the crisis, my dad had to pay for our school, a house mortgage and all the travelling expenses required to get to California. I think without the help of my mum’s friend, who lent us some money, we would lose our house to the government.
New Life in California
At 17, I was sad to leave my friends behind and go to this new place called America to live the “American Dream”. It definitely sounded good back then. After getting here, I started to go to a local community college called Pasadena City College.
Adapting to American culture was hard at first. Given that the philosophy of my Southeast Asia roots and USA is different, what I thought was positive is actually considered negative. For example:
- Being polite and opening doors = too nice
- Avoiding confrontation = too passive
- Not speaking up = too introverted
- Not social = awkward and lonely
Needless to say, it was hard to adapt at first. After a year or two, in order to try and fit in, I decided to distance myself from my roots in favor of American culture. I started to speak more like an American instead of using British style English which I was taught in Singapore school.
I hid all my favorite Asian food, music and culture and only followed popular American pop culture. I started to work out as I was very skinny so I can be buff like the gym bros. My Asian roots was practically hid deep down under. I stopped hanging out with friends that were from India, China, South Korea etc. to not be associated with my Asianess.
The Beginning of Unhappiness
In the process of making myself more American, I actually became dissatisfied. I became someone I did not resonate with just to fit in. I also changed my core values that was not okay for me, which I didn’t realise at that time, such as:
- Using self-deprecating jokes of my fellow Asians (at the expense of my self respect)
- Trying to be a class clown so I was not associated with being anti-social (at the expense of valuing my own dignity)
- Allowing racist jokes disguised as insults towards me without speaking up
While some jokes are harmless, but the effect on my mental health was devastating. I had low self-esteem (on top of having terrible acne) and I thought I was not worth anything. At 21, I was thinking about suicide. Thankfully, that was just a small phase and I got over it.
Around that time, I was looking to improve myself and see if I could find an alternative option to school. I didn’t like school and hated it. Video games were my escape from reality and I spent way too much time on it than learning in school.
Somehow, I came across a book called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. I read the book and realised there are many other options other than working a 9 to 5 job. After reading it, I started to search for “How to Make Money Online”.
Eventually, I stumbled upon Pat Flynn and Spencer who wrote about creating websites and earning passive income online. This marked the beginning and I started to learn about blogging and building websites. It was hard at first and it took roughly about 2 years before I got anywhere. I also dabbled in trading stocks and printing t-shirts, but those did not work out for me.
While I was trying out all kinds of ventures, I was still working at Starbucks to pay the bills. At one point, I was struggling to pay all my bills. I remember having to ask my dad to cover 1 month’s worth of rent and that was the worst feeling in the world, but I was also very grateful for my dad helping out despite me being a brat to him in the past.
As someone that always had my finances together and having no debt, it was a stab to my pride. From that day onward, I vowed to myself that I would never rely on anyone to support me ever again. I began to seriously research and wrote many articles on my blog and niche sites to get them going.
After 6 years of practising and applying some of the strategies, I was able to create a few successful niche sites to support myself. That was around 26 when I was finally moving out of my parent’s place and be independent on my own.
After a while, I was picked up by a startup company and was able to learn how it was ran. It was also during that time I met my long distance girlfriend from Poland on a dating app. Initially, I was not expecting much out of it. However, things got serious and I ended up visiting Poznan, Poland for the first time.
During my first few days there, I was amazed at how affordable the internet speed is for the price she paid. Walking and biking is a common thing there. Food and drinks were accessible within a walking distance. I really enjoyed staying there. Unfortunately, things with my then girlfriend didn’t work and out, so we parted ways.
Despite that, Poznan sparked my interest and I started to do more research about living in Central Europe. After my time with the startup company ended, I travelled to other cities in Poland and decided that I wanted to live in Warsaw.
A very affordable cost of living without needing a car, ease to healthier food and good high speed internet were key reasons. For a digital nomad, it is the perfect spot. So, after a few months of travelling in Europe, I returned to the US, sold most of my stuff, stored some leftovers in my Aunt’s garage and booked a 1 way ticket to Warsaw, Poland.
There were also a few other reasons why I opted out of California:
- Expensive city with long commute with a car
- Politically Correct Culture (Certain things are taboo)
- American Feminism
- Incompatibility with American Culture
I do know that I will miss hanging out with my family, but I would rather live elsewhere.
Missions and Goals of the Blog
One of the main mission that I have living here is to scale my business and also live a much healthier lifestyle. In Europe, walking and biking are much more common and easily accessible compared to California. Being able to do that and focus on my business without any distractions is a much better environment for me.
This blog will have some useful tips and tricks of living here in Poland, strategies on building niche websites and affiliate marketing.