Expat

Should you become an expat?

Please don't stand under the propellers, sir.
Please don’t stand under the propellers, sir. [Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand, 2016]

I’m regularly asked about moving to Thailand (and now I’m being asked about Cambodia). There was a point when I was emailed so often I considered creating a standard reply, but in the end laziness reigned supreme. Interestingly, I’ve made friends though these initial inquiries. I’ve met up with a few and one time I even received a beautiful pair of earrings as a gift!

But as time has whistled by, I find myself feeling wary about giving advice. Here’s why:

// There are almost always unforeseeables. A family member back home becomes seriously ill and the newly expatriated must return home. The job you got turns out to be a nightmare, but your visa is tied to your employment. The country you are living in suddenly has a military coup, and you watch as friends are asked to leave for xyz bullshit reason. Welcome to the Jungle…

Wires on Sivutha
Wires on Sivutha Road [Siem Reap, Cambodia, 2015]
// Living abroad can create a strain or challenge on personal relationships. I don’t think anything really prepares you for this either. If I had known that moving to Thailand was going to break up my 6+ year relationship, I’m not sure I would have gone. Of course, you can argue that it would have happened anyway, but I don’t think so. We were fairly cozy. No regrets though. That’s life. (And don’t think for a minute, please, that my relationship was the only one. Many couples break up overseas.)

My friend K brought her two teenage kids over and one of them took to Thailand really well and the other just holed up in their house playing video games. He hated it. And so, you have to be okay with this kind of possibility.

All-purpose moto pit stop [Siem Reap]
All-purpose moto pit stop – cause sometimes you need it. [Siem Reap]
// Being an expat just means you are living life, but with the additional work and trials that come with thriving in a foreign land. Obviously, this can be very exciting and life-changing, but it is also stressful as all hell. You won’t believe the amount of things you take for granted back in your passport country. Simple tasks like buying a towel or getting Internet hooked up can become an Amazing Race without the million dollar prize.

// Integrating back to your home country might be your biggest heartache yet – or you might get stuck living abroad. I was terrified when I learned that there were expats who were unable to financially return back home. Then there are those who have used expatriating as a way to “escape,” but now, the U.S. government has the power to revoke passports. Suddenly, you don’t feel as free as you once did.

I’ve also heard stories from former expats having a damn hard time finding employment back in their birth country. Given the economic climate, many find work abroad only to return and face the additional burden of not having any connections + a CV that looks like you played “hooky” for a few years.

Going nowhere [Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2014]
Going nowhere [Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2014]
The longer I live overseas though, the more impossible going back seems. Apparently, US expats are giving up their citizenship in greater numbers. Many are fed up with paying taxes for two countries (as America is the only country that taxes its overseas citizens). I’d consider giving up mine, too, if it wasn’t for my mom and the exorbitant price it now costs to do so.

Then again, I made the decision years ago to not return. Here’s why:

// Life’s an adventure. Sure, there is monotony and the droll of routine and work, but there is also the wakefulness and jolting awareness that you are living in another country. Every expat seems to go through this, “I live in ______” epiphany moment. It’s like a shot of “I’m alive!” that runs through your body and you can’t believe where you are at.

(And trust me, you need these moments of gratitude and wonder to offset those days when you experience great antipathy for your foreign environment.)

Yes, finding a place to eat becomes an endurance test, but each day holds the promise of a cultural encounter, a language breakthrough, and a beautiful awakening. You’re living in the NOW because sleepwalking is almost an impossible poor second choice. You have to pay attention or you might step in that oily puddle of kitchen waste that looks like solid ground (true story).

// Relationships, relationships, relationships. OMG! Never in my sexiest dreams could I have known how many people I would meet from all over the world. America, for all its melting pot ways, is not a hotbed of international individuals. Yes, there are exceptional industries and communities, but for the most part, you’re not going to be working + meeting Brits, Canadians, Australians, Kiwis, French, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, South Africans, etc., etc., not to mention fellow Americans from all over, on a day to day basis.

It’s magic.

Back in 2009 when I first started this crazy expat journey, I met Pat and Yui (and attended their wedding). [Chiang Mai]
Back in 2009 when I first started this crazy expat journey, I met Pat and Yui (and attended their wedding). [Chiang Mai]
Now, we are still friends. I saw them last month and they have have adorable twin girls.
We are still friends after all this time (which in expat yrs is like forever). I saw them last month and they now have adorable twin girls. Love you! [via Facebook] ❤
// Being an expat brings out the best and worst in you. There’s something about travel and living abroad that tests every fiber of patience in your body. It’s easy to be enlightened when everything is easy. But when existing feels like a s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e, you GROW. Okay, you have mini-meltdowns, too, but you have to push to survive and thrive.

You also learn what’s important to you. (Do you like to stand out or fit in? How much living space do you really need? Are you okay with eating local? Can you be vulnerable?) You’re perspective on what you need and what you want gets shaken and stirred, and just when things feel like they have settled, they get shaken and stirred all over again.

All those trite sayings about how expanding your horizons make you a better person start to be part of your inner playlist – and it’s a song that can change the way you see yourself and the world.

Finding serenity and bliss [Mae Gnat houseboat, Thailand, 2011]
Finding serenity and bliss [Mae Gnat houseboat, Thailand, 2011].
// Where ever expats end up, the people, the culture, the language and food are sure to be a massive part of the reason why they are there. Learning another language gives you exciting and playful insight into the way people think and view the world. Living side by side with folks so unlike you allows for more barriers to fall away than the opposite (which is radically different than what the media wants you to think). I’ve learned more about my own culture, too. It’s crazy how much we are the products of our culture and how boxed in we can become in our thinking as a result.

At the end of the day though, choosing to be an expat can be another rite of passage, a birth into adulthood (or childhood), but it ultimately depends on you.

What do you think?

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66 thoughts on “Should you become an expat?

    1. Good point. It is important to step outside of your cultural zone, after all, isn’t that why you moved abroad? 🙂

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      1. True. But, I have seen many expats who just moved from one expat party zone to the next. In China, many people would learn one word per year!

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    2. It would be nice to be some place where the locals really like you for “you” and not to see what they can get from you by putting on a fake smile. So we thought when we moved to Thailand we would have Thai friends. We were determined to not hang with the expats. After two years we now have a handful of expat friends we can really rely on and only Thai acquaintances.

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      1. I think, the fact that I am Asian, helped in China.. I had expatriate friends, who are now just FB acquaintances… Barring two, with whom I have a genuine friendship. And, I have several Chinese friends, with whom I have been in regular touch over the last 10 years

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    3. Very good points. Interesting, isn’t it, that even though you have clearly explained all of these expat challenges that the expats-to-be will not get it. Afterall, they are different, lol!

      I am still hanging out in Chiang Mai. I see a mutual friend, Russell Beck, and we talk about being expats. He is doing extremely well and I doubt he will ever leave Thailand. Me, I am doing much better but sometimes question the value gained by the challenges levied.

      Also, I can hear the slow low whining of freedom escaping Thailand as more and more laws are being enforced and created. It worries me. The surveilance and censoring of the internet is progressing. I am now forbidden from sites that I cannot fanthom the threat. Even with VPN on I sometimes am unable to escape from Google.th.

      So where can I find freedom in this mostly unfree world? I think it may be Costa Rica. So my plan is to stay in Thailand long enough to save up some money, easy to do here, then hasta la vista, bebe. Hey, and Spanish I have a much better chance at learning.

      All of which weighs on me because there are things about Thailand and some very special people here. Yeah, so I may change my mind again, lol.

      OK, end of therapy session. Here’s your nickle.

      Best regards.

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      1. Well, I had a blast in China. Having said that (and, I lived in Singapore as well), I knew that I was always under surveillance. In China, they monitor everything, and they monitor their own citizens as well. I discovered the techniques when I spoke with a few people I got to know very well. Our driver was always sent for a ‘one day training’, and this was generally meant as a half day training, and half day debriefing on our movements etc.
        However, countries like China and Singapore make it very easy for expats, and therefore expats tend to live in a bubble. I know that many locals in Singapore resent the intrusion of expats, especially since Singapore has become so very expensive.

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      2. The changes that Thailand has been going through have been alarming. This was one of the main reasons why we left. No regrets.

        Rather alarming about the censorship. I thought that was put out there, but the uproar caused certain people think twice about it. And let’s not get into the attitude adjustments going on…

        Wish you well James whatever you decide!

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  1. Amen to all of these, so incredibly much.
    Especially this one-“Living abroad can create a strain or challenge on personal relationships”- this point is one that I often bring up to couples looking to leave America. I have had a few friends that have never traveled ANYWHERE with their spouse/significant other and I always warn them to start traveling for a weekend with them first and move up from there. It is important to test and see if they can withstand the craziness that is being outside their element a little tiny bit first.
    I love being an expat and we have also considered giving up our citizenship though having an American passport is nice while traveling, but those taxes… yikes. It is almost like they want you to hate them and not return so they can keep your taxes and not have to use any of that money on you. 🙂
    Anyways, love this post! Thanks for putting up with my rambling comments. xoxox from the sunny south in Thailand,
    Jenny

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    1. You’re funny. I’d hardly say I have to put up with your rambling comments!

      So, the relationship thing. I remember watching a video series of a newly married couple who decided to travel RTW for their honeymoon. Interesting, right?

      OMG. It was soooo fascinating to watch their relationship break down throughout their travels. I was sort of wondering why they uploaded and shared them b/c it was clear by the end of it they were going to get a divorce! (They did.)

      As they say…there are friends – and then there are friends you can travel with 😉

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      1. Chad and I got married and moved to Taiwan 2 months later. I had never been out of the country. Oh man, did we learn a ton about each other. It was iffy for awhile whether we could make it, but now we have been married for 10 years! We love to travel now obviously, but it was definitely difficult.

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      2. I think many newly married couples go through iffy times. It should be better known! But yeah, if you really want to test your relationship out – go travelling! Am I right? Hahahahhaa.

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  2. Hi Lani this is Katy I don’t know if you remember me.. I lived in Texas and I had breast cancer.. Well I overcame it!! And yes my family and I are still considering moving to Thailand, at least for a little while anyway. I see that you live in Cambodia now- I hope you’re liking it and that everything is going well for you. I hope to meet you one day soon! Katy

    ________________________________

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    1. Of course, I remember you 🙂 That is wonderful amazing beautiful news indeed.

      Thanks for finding me again and I do hope our paths cross one fine day!

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    1. It does have its benefits, but I think a lot of countries have at least (if not better) the same benefits as far as travel is concerned. Things are getting very interesting for Americans these days…very interesting…and apparently after Super Tues results, many were googling ‘how to move to Canada’!

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      1. Having watched my South African and other African friends go through hell trying (and often not succeeding) to get US, British, and Schengen visas — not to mention the huge fees they often have to pay for these visas — I’m forever thinking my lucky stars that I have a US passport. There are some occasional times when the tables are turned — I went through a lot of trouble and expense getting my Brazilian visa, whereas South Africans don’t need one — the pros of a US passport still far outweigh the cons in my opinion. The bottom line is, unless I want to go to Sudan or a tiny handful of other countries, my visa application isn’t going to be denied based on the fact that I’m American and I’m really grateful for that.

        But I guess it’s kind of pointless for me to even contemplate this because I don’t really have any other option anyway 🙂

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      2. I almost wanted to add ‘but don’t get a S. African passport’ b/c of all the hassels you just mentioned + when there was ebola running rampent NOBODY wanted to see ‘Africa’ on a passport…

        But I think other Western countries have perfectly fine passports. I used to think America’s was the best, but now I know better. Aussies can travel to England or have dual citizenship and then, of course, that opens the door to the EU, etc.

        But I understand what you are saying. Thailand is so afraid that their citizens will never return that getting a visa to the States (for example) is a huge expensive hassle…hmmmm, I’m beginning to think America is the problem here 😛

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      3. Part of the problem for sure, but it’s everywhere, really. South Africa is also very keen on keeping other people out these days.

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  3. I loved living abroad in many ways, especially when we lived in Vanuatu. Loved our very international group of friends. But I was a trailing spouse, hoping for too long to get back to continue with my career. It took me a long time to find a new one.

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    1. Interesting. I always got the feeling you enjoyed your expat years, but didn’t think about being a trailing spouse. I suppose because you had your children to care for and that seems very full-time.

      Are your girls big travelers now? Just curious…

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      1. Growing up overseas gave my daughters a seriously broad world view and colored their opinions and interests in many ways. One daughter studied for a semester in Poland and worked for two years in the Russian Far East right after the break-up of the Soviet Union. (She majored in International Relations and Russian.) Another daughter spent a semester in Equador and travels abroad whenever she can. The third daughter went to Egypt and Spain on her honeymoon. They all vacation abroad, but they’re all really busy with their careers. As for the next generation … my grandchildren study Mandarin and Spanish, and my granddaughter spent a few weeks in China, and did a summer internship in Malaysia. So … it seems that our time as expats had implications that went beyond our time abroad.

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  4. Spot on Lani.

    Personally, being an expat in Turkey is more challenging than being in the Gulf. However, I lived in the compound when I was in the Gulf and I didn’t get any hazzle from the locals. The only people who gave me grief in the Gulf were some of my colleagues.

    Every experience is different. It helps to have an open heart and mind. Sometimes, there is someone who is bent on making your expat life a misery, that’s life. Practise mindfulness. Cultivate a positive mind and attract people with positive energy.

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    1. Yes, I didn’t want to get into all the various scenerios b/c you are right, there are many. And I think you brought up another important point, which is, if you are living in a country that is very different than your passport one + compound vs. regular life.

      Having never lived in a compound I don’t know how little you feel part of the local community. But having lived in 3 different countries, I can say, there are definitely times when you are truly thriving and when you feel like you are barely surviving.

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      1. Compound life is a world of its own; one either like it or hate it. When I was in the Gulf, some of us lived on top of each other and in each other pockets.

        With all due respects to the locals where I live and work, one would not like to be fully immersed with the local community because a lot of them are narrow minded and some expect the expats to embrace their culture.

        My English friend who is married to a Turk and has lived for some 16 years in Turkey told me that the Turks are still basking in the shadows of the Ottoman Empire.

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  5. This was a fascinating post. A few years before my husband retired, we honestly considered moving out of the country. We read many books and discussed it at length. I guess because of this I somehow thought of expats as older people versus younger people. You showed me that’s not the case. I think the number one reason why we dropped the idea is the family. We just couldn’t leave the kids and grandkids. Don’t get me wrong, we are not stay at home retirees living our life through our kids or taking care of our grandkids but we truly enjoy our roles as parents and grandparents. We don’t hesitate to take our lengthy road trips, mini vacations, and whatever without the kids but we do enjoy being with them often enough to keep us nearby. We have never regretted our decision but I can’t help but have that little tug envy when I read your blog!

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    1. I had no idea you were considering moving overseas! Yeah, I think the grass is greener on the other side 😉 Living at home allows for rich and deep roots to grow and it’s also comforting to know you are surrounded by family and friends. Many expats miss their families/friends. I think for folks like me with very little ties it makes more sense. Of course, my mom would love me to be closer and I’m quite lucky that she travels out to see her family in Thailand on a regular basis 🙂

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  6. Great post, Lani. So many perspective about being an expat, a journey that has its ups and downs. Lol at the CV that looks like you’ve played hooky. I guess it depends on the job that you do and what you really get up to in general.

    Paying taxes to two countries must be hard. It sounds silly to pay taxes in one country where you don’t physically spend time in and live it for what it is.

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    1. Very often American expats are already paying taxes in their new home, so yeah, it doesn’t make sense. And I can imagine for those with stronger roots outside of the US what a burden that must be, too.

      Trust me, the CV bit is true. Employers don’t necessarily see ‘work abroad’ as a strength and don’t know what to think of you. My b/f went back to the States after a year in SE Asia and couldn’t find work for months…then his friend said he could get him a job in China no problem. He jumped at the chance and hasn’t been back ever since.

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      1. Generally in Australia, ‘work abroad’ is seen as favourable if its related to an area of work you’re keen on building a career in. Then again, I’ve never been in that position and it also depends on the profession. For instance, to work in the government sector here and to progress upwards, you need to start out working locally and for most part of your career as well.

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      2. Australia is probably more progressive in this regard with such strong ties to England + located near some pretty exotic locals. Not America though, I think it would be a rare employer that would see travel and expating as something positive.

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  7. I think being an expat can be fun and tough as well. It is easier being an expat in a Western country than in an Asian country because the typical harsh Asian culture that dominate predominantly Asian or Eastern countries tend to be environmentally unhygienic, tend to offer less security, tend to offer lower quality of life, tend to be much more horrible and harsher to foreigners with very small budget. Perhaps, being an expat may be a good option for people like myself who don’t feel a sense of belonging to anywhere in particular and it may be a good way to find a home, that is if the foreign country is not another country that offer no life long security or one that is only interested in fleecing us of our money. Anyway, I think it is best not to waste too much money or too much time living in a foreign country and having to worry about having the correct visa or permit all the time, unless one has no other option.

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    1. There is definitely the uphill challenge living in a country so very different than your own. I remember someone making the joke that 911 (in the US, it’s our emergency number) in Thailand must be 119. Then I heard someone use it to apply to South Korea. I began to realize just being in Asia is SOOOO different, often like the opposite, of how “Westerners” think and feel. And those differences can get very expensive (as you mentioned) and frustrating. But I think being poor in any country is a challenge – just like being rich in any country can insulate you from the common person’s problems.

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    1. I’m surprised to hear that because you are a dancer and performing seems like a great way to “make a fool of oneself” 😉 I mean, don’t you have to be willing to fall flat on your face?

      Yeah, the houseboat, no electricity, surrounded by water for days – it was an interesting experience.

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      1. I never thought of that! The times I have blown it in a performance, though, I could play it off as a joke and the audience would laugh WITH me, rather than AT me. Mostly. Also, if you practice hard enough, you rarely fall flat on your face. Though I fell flat on my back, once.

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  8. I never knew that America can now revoke your passport! Crazy sauce. I do have dreams of becoming an expat… but in an English-speaking country. Although I LOVED my time in France because it was rewarding as hell and something new, it would be difficult to live their full time. Small things that I could brush off as a passing visitor would snowball into something huge.

    Great post, Lani. I really enjoyed reading everything you’ve learned from your time there 🙂

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    1. Thanks! And yes, America keeps pouring on the crazy sauce. It’s getting to saucy these days and I want to yell at my fellow citizens and say, “Hey! No more sauce! We’re starting to drown in the crazy over here!”

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  9. A great post, Lani! I personally believe that expat life is not for everyone. You need to be able to embrace the foreign while balancing the familiar in order to live abroad long-term.

    You need to be open-minded and non-judgemental – I know far to many expats who think this and that sucks. I even had one of my previous Taiwanese co-workers tell an American guy who complained about Taiwan all the time ‘If you don’t like it here, go the you know what home.’ And it is unfortunate that some expats’ attitudes make it bad for the rest of us.

    Personally, I love being an expat. I have learned more about myself and I have stepped out of my comfort zone on many occasions. Life sometimes feels like a constant adventure.

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    1. Yes, I know what you mean. And if you think Taiwan has those complainers you should hear the old expats in Thailand! Woooowheeee.

      Of course, in Cambo, I avoid expat forums, they are filled with such nastiness. I don’t know why some folks are so negative. Correction, I avoid all expat forums unless I really need to get at some information.

      Thanks! 🙂

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  10. well argued from both sides! I think expat life can look pretty glamorous from the outside, and on those bad expat days it’s the complete opposite. the truth is that life anywhere is still life. us expats just have different sets of challenges and rewards. ha – like buying towels!

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    1. Yes, true indeed. Expat life is just life and it’s funny when it is perceived otherwise. Bad expats days = very very bad days. You should have wrote the post, you are much more succinct 😀

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  11. Great article, Lani. And I was livid when I read that they can revoke your passport… wtf? Then you don’t have a country, or what? I guess they give it back when you pay your debt? And that double taxing… gggrfrfffssss!!!

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  12. Wow Lani! I think this is one of your best posts yet.

    If my move back to America has taught me anything, it’s this: living abroad is amazing. Especially in Asia. And it’s ok to stay, potentially, forever.

    You explained my feelings about living abroad so eloquently and perfectly. Especially with this sentence: “I live in ______” epiphany moment.”

    That epiphany moment used to hit me a lot at the most random of times, and it was a rush of enlightenment, pride and wonder all at once. It was a mini boost to my confidence because I not only managed to survive abroad, but also somewhat assimilate into a foreign culture and WORK there. It’s a huge achievement. Plus, the everyday adventure that comes with living abroad is a rush. I think it makes you feel alive. It keeps you on your toes.

    Ugh the double tax thing is ridiculous (I had such a headache filing my taxes last year because I never ‘filed’ while living in China), and I didn’t know that the USA could revoke your passport wtf!!!!! (echoing Marta up there. Glad I got an Irish one as a backup!). After moving back to the United States, I’ve realized that this country is so flawed. Everyone I know is buried in debt from either healthcare, car or student debt (and if they’re lucky, a house) and spend half their lives in a car. And the commercialism and obsession with material goods (especially in California)… AGHALKF!

    Anyway, love the post dear. Makes me reminisce to expat days!

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    1. Hey, thanks! I almost didn’t post it. I was worried that it was lame. Ha!. I’m such a bad judge of my own writing sometimes. The b/f had to convince me hit publish.

      You bring up a good point – gaining confidence.After my big break up (the one I mentioned in the post), I had to learn to not only do everything on my own again, but to do it in foreign countries. It was strengthening. I think I take it for granted now as I feel quite capable of doing things on my own.

      It’s not that I wasn’t independent, but it’s terribly easy to depend on another person (esp if you think it’s going to be 4-ever). So even though we broke up after 6+ yrs together, it wasn’t that difficult b/c I was starting a new job, learning to drive a motorbike and just getting into expat living, you know?

      Death to expats paying taxes! Oh the irony!

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  13. I’ve been living a semi-expat life for years, but we’re in a very American community so it’s not quite the same. We’re spoiled and the idea of not having that everyday learning experience is something we’re not willing to give up. You are right, though, it’s definitely not for everybody!

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    1. Since you and Jim live in Germany and have been EVERYWHERE, I think it’s safe to say you are expats 😉 and expert travellers. You two are an inspiration!

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  14. You’ve summed up the pros and cons nicely. I think one of the most important things for those who want to become expats is an inner determination to ‘make’ it work, if it doesn’t turn out to be a fairy tale.

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  15. I feel like a home country Canadian whimp amongst all these ex-pats. My next blog post which I wrote several months ago is why I like being home after a lot of travel for a few wks. Clearly I may not be ex-pat material.

    It’s ok….I didn’t learn English until kindergarten, even though I was born and raised in Canada. I don’t feel totally the turtle living under its shell.

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      1. If I was an American expat, I would wait until who becomes the next President after Obama. The U.S. might have some wild times in store (or dangerous times) ahead.

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  16. Oh, I look back on my expat days so fondly. Rose colored glasses, you know? Coming back was definitely harder than I thought it would be — though I contributed to that with my whole “I have no idea what even to do with myself now” shenanigans.

    I think one aspect of expat life that gets overlooked — or subsumed in the whole “living in a new culture/culture shock” thing and therefore not often explicitly mentioned in these terms — is: potentially living as a minority for possibly the first time in your life. So many of my white American friends in Korea and China were absolutely unprepared for the racism they faced. And unable to frame it as the consequences of being a foreign minority in a mostly homogeneous society instead of “Asians are so racist.” This is such a pet peeve of mine.

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    1. I read your comment to my b/f and he LOVES it. He can whole-heartedly agree b/c he lived in China, b/c he was told, “f*ck you foreigner”, pointed at, laughed at and talked about sooooo much. And god forbid if you are overweight or a woman…

      Yes, folks are completely unprepared for this kind of open racism b/c we, in the ‘west’ have been raised so differently. It’s shocking, really. Or refreshing (his words, not mine).

      Culture shock. Good one, K.

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  17. Absolutely love this, Lani! I’m still a fairly new expat, but there’s already a lot here I can relate to. Having those epiphany moments, integrating and yet still being an expat, the trial and tribulations of being an expat – everything is so relatable here.

    Think one of the biggest criticisms I get from non-expats are they see the expat life as “floaty” – not having a base, somewhere to call home. A notion that the me of 4 years ago would be yearning for, but expat life has changed me. Not having a base used to scare me. But I feel like I’ve got a different sort of base, not the traditional one that may be my parents wish I had.

    I didn’t think I was expat material. I thought I was going to live and die in the same country. Maybe in the same city.

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    1. Thanks, Jaina. I’m glad you could relate so strongly to it. For me, one of the criticisms I get is that being an expat is some sort of party lifestyle, like being a perpetual uni student. (I wish…)

      But I hear you about not feeling settled, I used to be very much attached to the idea of having a home, a garden, settling down and establishing roots. At the same time, I was terrified of making a commitment.

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  18. I’m way late to the party but I just came back to your blog after a bit of an absence and realise I have missed lots of great reading! Your posts are always so engagingly written. I’ve only spent one short period as an expat a couple of years ago but have always toyed with doing it for longer so I found this post to be really interesting. I think you are right that whether you live in your home country or overseas you are still living your daily life (but in one simple activities like setting up a bank account take on a whole new level of complexity!). I like your description of the jolt of realising you are living in XX country. Often in my home country I feel almost sleepy going about routine activities sometimes but there is a new level of awakeness living in a foreign country.

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    1. Thanks, Cat! ^^

      Yeah, I used to relfect on being back in the US and getting chores done. How EASY it was and what was I thinking? I mean, did I think? Of course, yes, I had to think, but it’s almost like we automatically know where everything is, even in a new town, because we have been living in this culture all of our lives. These habits and bits of knowledge become second nature and it’s so strange to ‘wake up’ to this when you are living in another country.

      Liked by 1 person

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