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The life of an expat?

The life of an expat?

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Old Dec 21st 2017, 1:19 pm
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Default The life of an expat?

Anyone else had the following experience...

Those who choose to leave “home” and live somewhere new are often looking for a change, an escape, a purpose. And the distant observer may envy these travelers, whose lives appear exciting and fascinating.



But the behind the “glory” of this lifestyle, are people whose sense of self is shaken.



No doubt, there is wonderment, achievement, and adventure; but these often come in disconnected episodes; occasional highs. And while some may wiggle their way into new communities with relative ease, others struggle and never quite fit. For the latter, much of the experience can be lonely and unsettling.

After the euphoria of being in a new place has passed, they find themselves in excessive solitude, engulfed by their own thoughts, getting a little too intimate with their inner demons and doubts. They start to long for the very same things that had spurred them to leave their base in the first place. They question their identities, priorities, and convictions. And the age-old cliché that “you don’t know what you have until you lose it” creeps up a little too often. The solitude can slip into a perpetual state of loneliness, only occasionally alleviated by encounters with bits of their culture, even those that come in the form of stereotypes and kitschy memorabilia.

Some become more vulnerable, emotional, and spiritual than they knew they could be. They search inside themselves and discover an emptiness they didn’t know existed; a hollowness they thought their successes would fill. And for every birthday that passes, they feel as if their souls skip five.



They go back “home”, yearning for the things they had missed while away. Yet, somehow “home” feels slightly more strange than familiar. And even though they did not expect the world to come to a standstill while they were gone, they can’t help but feel confused, disappointed, or hurt when they realize that people have moved on; that friends and family will never fully understand the extent to which living abroad has changed them; that even while surrounded by loved ones, the loneliness and emptiness remain. And perhaps most difficult of all, they no longer recognize the versions of themselves they were before they left.

They leave again, back to the reality of what they chose to pursue. Back again with their own thoughts, they ponder the consequences of their privileged choices; unsure of who they are, what they want, or what home is.



Behind the façade of the exhilarating life abroad, the same people who took the leap and left are raw.



Afraid.

Uncertain.

Tired.

Scathed.

Restless.



Still searching for a change, an escape, a purpose.

Still searching for themselves.


(Credit to https://ruaalabweh.wordpress.com/201...eged-nomadism/)
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Old Dec 21st 2017, 11:13 pm
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Default Re: The life of an expat?

or they just get on with life.
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Old Dec 21st 2017, 11:33 pm
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Default Re: The life of an expat?

Or become fascinated then engulfed in a new set of things/friends/activities. Never a dull moment, surrounded by both locals, tourists and others similarly fascinated.
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Old Dec 21st 2017, 11:42 pm
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Default Re: The life of an expat?

Are you referring to an immigrant or an expat? There is a difference. I have lived and worked and 'just been' in eight countries for durations of over at least nine months.


I found new countries exhilarating. Yes seeking change. Life is short. Escape quite possibly. Detest routine and love freedom. Being in a new place, one can reinvent oneself to a degree. I love language and have a bit of a knack for learning them so enjoy the challenge of that.


Seeking a purpose? No living in other countries was 'a purpose'. Afraid? Of what? Only thing to say about that is requiring to have full wits about one in certain cities where being aware of the realities does make one fully aware of ones personal safety.
This can be frightening at times.


Besides things like my extensive collection of books and music there is little about 'home' ever missed.


I doubt if self doubt ever was a feature. Quite the contrary. Many I know whom never, or seldom left home IMO, more likely to be victims.


Breaking out to live in countries where initially don't speak the language, indeed some ex pats I've met have been years in a particular country and can only string a few words of the local lingo together.


I always found more freedom being an expat or long stay traveller, not necessary availing itself at 'home'. Home can mean an expectation of everyone pulling the same direction, with same desires and if outside the 'norm' can be judged harshly, or as a bit of an eccentric by peers. Social pressure being a powerful tool towards enforcement.


Perceptions do change with the passing of time somewhat. But more in the line of don't give a bollocks what others think and place becomes less important in certain respects.

Last edited by the troubadour; Dec 21st 2017 at 11:45 pm.
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Old Dec 22nd 2017, 6:43 am
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Default Re: The life of an expat?

I think it’s a young persons thing. Mostly you just get the buzz from the adventure but realise that nowhere is home - the places you’ve chosen are adventures but the places you leave are in the past and they change as you change so there is no security net.

As one gets older - like old animals wanting to go back to their origins to die - I think we do eventually get that need to know we are going to be familiar and comfortable in our dotage because living as an alien takes time and energy. I’m of that vintage where being an expat was a big adventure but my friends and I are all of the same vintage and we’re tired of it - been doing it for nearly 50 years now, most of us. Of my cohort of friends, all bar one would give their eye teeth to return “home” (they visit, regularly) but now they’re stuck (finances, families etc) and they’re not finding that comfortable as the energy it takes them to be alien is draining. It’s probably that their expat freedoms have been eroded - once a world of adventure has now become a millstone and the adventure dies.

I would agree to loneliness, no matter how outgoing and social you may be those later life friendships lack the quality and depth of early life friendships, forged in times of developmental angst. I would agree with afraid - the thought of popping my clogs scares me anyway now but the thought of never being in my green and pleasant land makes it worse. I want to rest with my ancestors. I would agree with restless - it was that restlessness that took us adventuring in the first place, stability and stagnation is anathema to an adventurer. Tired - most definitely. Acting a life knackers you - I was deadly tired 6 years ago until I moved on for another adventure (back home as it happens but it was another new adventure as I’d been away for so long)

I agree that there is a difference between the mind set of expat and immigrant. I’m very much expat - love the adventure and change but with 32 years in Australia I sort of turned into an immigrant although we never intended that as a final stop. The stability didn’t set well with me, I needed the new adventure.

Looking at my friendship cohort in Aus, I’d say they were mostly those who came with an “expat” frame of mind which might account for their resentment at being trapped for the longer term. My very best friend is a more serious expat than me, having grown up in an expat family and in many countries following first her dad then going o/s with her husband. She’s now very happy and settled in Yorkshire (not her home county at all) - so maybe she’s living the life of a Kent expat in Yorkshire - all about the adventure!
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Old Dec 23rd 2017, 11:04 pm
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Default Re: The life of an expat?

I've been an expat elsewhere but I migrated to AU.

I'm at peace here in part due to having built an entire life on bedrock no sand...it helps that all the pieces are accounted for. The best parts of the UK are just nice memories which made me who I am..and you can make then as rose-tinted as you like..

I've always felt a bit sorry for people who have never found a life in AU when they had such high expectations...some people just never got the opportunity when it might have been around the corner for 30 years and denied them..I have long been of the viewpoint that many people just miss out...and they spend years thinking only the UK could offer it..
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