Why do you love expat life? Is it because the world has become your office? Because every day is an adventure? Or because you enjoy discovering new things about our planet and its people?
From 19 June to 3 July, we asked our members on Twitter to let us know why they like living abroad so much. The answers cited above are just a few of the heartfelt and creative responses we received. It was very hard for us to choose the winner of a 100 EUR hotel voucher among the entries, but we would now like to share our favorite reason and what the winner has to say about living abroad.
In fact, we found it so difficult to make our final decision that we are featuring the runner-up as well: both contestants have summed up beautifully what appeals to them about expat life, and they have more words of wisdom for their fellow expatriates in store.
Expat Life: The Chance to Reinvent Yourself
“I love expat life,” our final favorite Apple says, “because I get to reinvent myself over and over, adapting to new countries and cultures every time.”
Apple’s self-described “nomadic existence” began when she was merely four weeks old. Born to an Australian mother and a British father, she spent her childhood in Nigeria, the UK, Australia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea.
After attending a secretarial college in England, she succumbed to her wanderlust again, covering almost every continent with her husband: before (more or less) settling in Houston and the US Virgin Islands, she used to live in Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore, Scotland, and Equatorial Guinea. Her two children were born in Thailand and the Netherlands, respectively.
Modern family life probably doesn’t get any more global than that! And with the constant change of place, a process of personal reinvention was almost guaranteed: Apple has worked as a vendor of Scuba diving equipment, an editor for a charity organization, and the Honorary Consul for the UK.
“Always make the most of your opportunities,” she recommends. “We must be willing to step out of our prescribed boundaries and be prepared to grasp unexpected chances.”
Sometimes expats can be a bit too quick to compare and complain, Apple thinks. “It’s far better to embrace the new country, although there will be some things we do not like. Do your homework and be well informed, but don’t be arrogant. An open mind and the willingness to listen can lead to wonderful experiences.”
Expat Life: The Chance to Overcome Your Fears
It’s the love of new experiences that Apple and her fellow contest Caterina have in common: “I love expat life,” Caterina states, “because it makes me love the unknown and dream of feeling like home anywhere in the world.”
Although Italian-Venezuelan Caterina has dual citizenship as well, her upbringing wasn’t a “nomadic” one: born and raised in Venezuela, she always loved traveling, though. So, when she turned 18, she left her home country behind and spent two years in Italy, England, and Scotland. Scotland is also the place she now calls home after living there for the past seven years, and not even the changeable weather can faze her.
For Caterina, moving abroad was more about adjustment than reinvention. “When I first moved abroad, I was full of fears,” she remembers, “determined to do it, but also really anxious and doubtful.” Many expats and expats-to-be may recognize that initial nervousness, and Caterina is a great example of why you shouldn’t let such feelings stop you.
“As I experienced what it was actually like to live in Italy, a land far away from home, I realized how adaptable I was and how welcoming other cultures could be. Expat life can make you forget all about your fears. Just learn to love the unknown!”
Though Caterina’s initial experiences with expat life were quite different from Apple’s, her words of advice to other expats aren’t.
“I honestly think technology has removed much of the fear associated with going to unfamiliar destinations. Make use of the wonders of the Internet, so you won’t feel too lost. If you get the basics covered, you can simply enjoy your adventure…”
… while discovering your very own reasons to love expat life!
Thanks again to everyone to everyone who participated in the contest on our Twitter profile and shared their reasons via #ILoveExpatLifeBecause, and a special thank you to Apple and Caterina for giving us an in-depth interview. Congratulations to Apple on the hotel voucher for her next mini-vacation!
(Image credit: 1) InterNations 2) Apple Gidley 3) Caterina Bassano 4) iStockphoto)