This week, our guestblogger Jessica – a recent US repatriate from Belgium – talks about attending her first InterNations Event in Washington, DC.
As most expats know, the moving process is always challenging. It takes a few months to get settled in and figure out a new city. As a “repat” (my version of the expat), being in a new city can be somewhat intimidating. It takes a little courage to go to events alone since I am still building my social circle in Washington. One of the things I miss the most about Brussels is the international social atmosphere. I love being in places where you hear many languages and experience different cultures. In a way Brussels and Washington are very similar: underrated international capital cities with a colorful and diverse local flavor.
After three months, I finally feel some sense of normalcy, just in time to attend my first InterNations event in DC. The event took me to Bourbon, a cozy bar in Adams Morgan. I was delighted to be welcomed with a friendly smile by the event organizers, and I was looking forward to meeting new people. I arrived early and was quickly welcomed by other members. I was pleasantly surprised meeting so many people who not only I had many things in common with but I can learn so much from.
I met Ana, a fellow Latina from Honduras who had also lived in Belgium. How random? She spent twenty years living in Antwerp, the perfect person to practice my Dutch with. I also spent time speaking to Andrew, who traded stories about Latin America and gave me some great tips about Salsa clubs in DC. My fear of losing my French skills was calmed by meeting Arianne from Cameroon, who I exchanged numbers with in order to continue to practicing my French.
As I spoke to Christina, one of the event organizers, it was nice to know that there is such an active group of expats here in Washington. One of the common things I heard throughout the evening was the desire not to lose the international experience built abroad, which is exactly how I feel. With people like the members of Washington’s InterNations, I doubt that will be a problem.
You can read more about Jessica’s experience as a “repat” on Adventures of the Repatriate.
And what about you? Have you ever had to cope with the experience of repatriation? How did you go about building an international social network back home?
(Photocredit: Jessica D.)