Guest Perspective: What Does It Really Mean To Be An Expat?

I have been fascinated with the expat lifestyle and wanted to share some of my fellow bloggers’ experiences. This is the first guest post from my good friend who blogs for A Momma’s View and now lives down under!

Hi, I am the Momma from A Momma’s View and I am an expat. For almost 10 years now we call Australia home. And sometimes I ask myself what it really means to be an expat. SwAustralia

If you want to go the easy way, you Google the word and then you find some kind of explanation. On Wikipedia it is defined as a person who temporarily or permanently lives in another country. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expatriate.  I guess that more or less nails it, right?

But what does it really mean? In my case it means the following:

You live your life wondering if you belong where you are really. You feel the urge to explore different places to maybe, one day, feel like you really belong, like you are home. And then one day, you actually get the chance to move. You make it happen.

It means that you suddenly have to leave your old life behind, that you need to decide what of it you want to take on to the journey, what you might want to leave back (in a storage) just in case you might come back one day and what you want to get rid off.

It means, that you have to pack the belongings you want to take with you in tons of boxes and spend a lot of money taking them along, only to discover later that it was actually stupid to take 50% of it with you, as you will never use it anymore for which ever reason.

It means a lot of goodbyes; leaving family and friends, places and also routines behind.

It means to get organized in a place you might have never been before, or maybe only visited. And it means realizing that actually living there is not the same as spending your vacation there.

It means getting used to a new way of doing things and getting used to a new language most probably. And although you might speak this language already, you will learn many more words once you actually live this language.

It means that the first days or weeks in your new city will be stressful but exciting; they will feel like you are on honeymoon.

It means that one day you will realize that you actually live here now and that the new furniture is awesome (and maybe won’t really match the parts you brought along).

It means a lot of unpacking when your stuff finally arrives.

It means making new friends; people, who might be in the same boat as you or might have lived abroad, or people who never traveled.

At one point it also means that you are home now and that you might not want to leave anymore. You have settled in and gotten used to the new way, the new life, your new friends and what ever came along.

Thankfully for me it meant that I found my place and that I love my new life, my expat life. Thankfully for me it meant that we moved for good and that I did not have to deal with the question “do I really want to settle in only to have to move again in 3-4 years?”  For me it meant new friends and a different life. Friends that I knew I have around and wont have to leave again soon.

Very often I ask myself now if I am actually an expat or if I am actually an immigrant. But then you never know. You never know if you are really going to stay. At least I don’t really know. Although we are residents now and we will be citizens soon, we still might leave again one day.

Being an expat is a great adventure. A challenge and in certain ways a pain in your rear-end.  But it is also fun and a great experience. And I know that if we ever move country again, it will be easier in many ways but oh so much harder in others.

Because if you do it again, you will know how it feels to say goodbye and how it feels to leave. You will know the challenge it is to do it. But you will also know that you can do it, that you will find new friends, that you will settle in and that it will be good.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Guest Perspective: What Does It Really Mean To Be An Expat?

  1. I totally agree that visiting a place is completely different to living there. Australia has a great diversity in location to live and the lifestyle associated with the geographical location. It is truly a vast land.

    Like

  2. Loved being an expat – in various locales. Then I got married and we bought a house. Oh. Oops.

    I never knew if I was going to stay where I was either….and although I usually wanted to, family in the States kept bring me back.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s