Hello everyone! We’re back with another interview with expat bloggers from around the world. I know it’s been a while, but it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want. (* evil laugh *)
I’m pleased to introduce Damianne who I met through WordPress’s April Discovery Prompts (met several great bloggers actually). But check this out, Damianne has an expat blog and runs a podcast called Changes BIG and small. She also interviewed me (egats!) so it feels like we did a little speed dating session 😉
I don’t know how she manages all these projects! I love though that she’s focused on self-improvement and how change can revolutionize our lives. So without further ado, here’s Damianne!
// Where are you from and where you do currently live?
I was born in St. Lucia, moved to Ottawa, Canada at the age of 12, and now live in Prague, Czech Republic.
// What other countries have you lived in and which ones do you want to live in next, if any?
I lived in India for 2 years, Sudan for 4 years, Japan for 4 years, and have been in the Czech Republic for 6 years. I’m more of an immigrant than an ex-pat in the Czech Republic since I’ve now attained permanent residence here.
// What do you like (and/or don’t like) about living abroad?
I like the opportunity to travel to different places and experience other ways of living. In India, I got to visit many different cities and regions all around the country. There are so many different cultures and languages there that the experiences were truly varied.
Sudan was so culturally different. It was a great learning experience that what you see on the news or on television isn’t the experience of everyone who lives in a country. It’s very important to ask questions to understand a place and its culture. Sometimes, you need to build a new mental map.
In Japan, I was in a totally different environment than anything that I’d ever experienced before. I really appreciated the attention to details and started seeking those small details in everyday life, especially things of beauty.
I love being in the centre of Europe, in Prague. It is such a beautiful city. I’ve found many opportunities to create the life that I want here.
Living abroad, I try to cultivate friends beyond the ex-pat bubble. That is sometimes challenging but it’s one of the greatest benefits of working abroad from my point of view.
// What do you find most different about living abroad?
I’ve picked up words and phrases in each place where I’ve lived but I’m not fluent in any of the languages. Often, in my travels, I find that many of my friends speak multiple languages. That’s different to when I was living in Canada.
// What do you miss about home (besides family and friends)?
I miss some food items and organic shopping options. There are definitely those options in Prague and the list of available products is always growing, but I would like an online market, for example, where I can find everything in one place. On the other hand, it’s possible to get great quality food, so it’s a minor quibble that I have to go to specialty stores to get some of my preferred items.
// Is there something you feel you have gained since becoming an expat?
I think you have to be humble and flexible. You’re in another country, where you may not speak the mother tongue. I’m lucky that many people around the world speak English but I try to remind myself not to take that for granted.
// What’s a day-in-the-life of you, look like?
Well, I work from home. Ideally, I wake up around 6. That gives me time for meditations before I go for a walk or do a workout. I often listen to a podcast while getting my day started. Then I like to spend some time reading a book before I start into the workday. I work fairly regular 8:30-5:00 hours roughly. Then it’s time for my other activities – meeting with friends, working on my podcast, blogging, watching tv, reading. My goal is to go to bed by 10pm but it’s often closer to 11pm or midnight. Not so exciting but it works for me!
// Are there any expat or travel bloggers you particularly enjoy? Who? Why?
I don’t really follow any expat or travel bloggers anymore. Occasionally, I’ll look for travel bloggers if I’m going to visit a new place for ideas of accommodations, restaurants, activities but there aren’t any that I am subscribed to for now.
// What’s a question you wish interviewers would ask, but never have?
What are you grateful for at the moment? What activities bring you joy? I think questions like this are playful and inject some fun in an interview. There are many variations on those questions.
For me, right now, I feel incredibly grateful for my job. I am of course also grateful for family and health, but work is very important to me.
Thanks, Damianne! I love your thoughtful answers.