Friday, January 15, 2010

The Expat Life

The expat life is a journey of continual learning, and I have learned two crucial lessons that I would like to share with you.
First, it is very important to take the time to celebrate mile-stones.  It is during these celebrations that one is able to look back and see one's successes, analyze one's failures, and plan for the future.   Reflection allows an ongoing process of continual growth, rather than allowing life to become a series of mundane actions.
Secondly, it is crucial to become active in an expat community.  Of course, you will meet many wonderful people and make many friends in your new host country, but in those relationships there will never be a true understanding of what it means to expatriate.  You can explain and educate acquaintance from the host culture about your experiences, but it takes someone who has passed through a similar situation to truly empathize with you and your needs.  It would be unrealistic to think that you never need an understanding shoulder to lean on.  Actually, when we first arrived in Spain, I made a decision that I was only going to integrate in the local community, even though there was a large ex-pat and USA  military population in the town we lived in.  Six months into my "new life" I found that even though I had become an active member in the host community, and had several new friends, I lacked someone with whom I could reminisce about life back home and discuss my frustrations vis-a-vis cultural differences.  Furthermore I missed kicking back and carrying on in an idiom familiar to all. Fortunately, I was able to find a club of Expat Women that filled a void in my life.   When I moved to Australia, I also found a supportive expat group; but I have also found a some inspiring on-line resources, including, "a comprehensive, global website helping women living overseas," is preparing to celebrate a mile-stone the 16th of January.  As they celebrate 3 years being online I  encourage everyone, wherever they are in their expat journey to visit the site.  Their are numerous resources for the novice, and the experts can tell their stories and offer their expertise.

Expat Women - Helping Women Living Overseas


  1. Hi Maya, the site looks like a great resource. The expat life sounds like a fascinating journey. Kudos on the mile stone and the great generosity and sense of community shared between its members.

    Have a great weekend.

  2. Both points are very true. So much of the support structure that you take for granted is missing when you live abroad. We were only abroad for 3 months but we really appreciated being able meet up with other ex-pats and kicking back as you said. It sounds like you have found two great groups for support.