Expats Share

Packing your entire life into a suitcase and saying goodbye to everything that is familiar and comfortable to become an expat in a foreign country is certainly not easy. But what is it really like?

In this new monthly series, expats reveal all! If you’re contemplating the big move abroad, here’s an insight into what life as an expat is really like. Every month, I’ll be putting the call out to expats past and present from all over the world to respond to a simple question about the realities of expat life. This month in the debut post, expats are sharing with us what the best thing about being an expat is in their opinion. All of the expats featured this month also have blogs, which means that you can follow along on their adventures abroad with them!

This month: The best thing about being an expat

Monika of My Thousand Worlds

Original country: Slovakia

Moved to: Sweden

Reason for moving abroad: I’ve felt the urge to travel and live abroad since I remember (as recent study shows, now I can blame the genetics!). However, it didn’t really happen until I went on workaway to Sweden last summer and somehow have not left the country since then thanks to the job I got. Being a seasonal expat enables me to get to know new country, new people and new culture in a sustainable way.

Best thing about being an expat: I believe being an expat is one of the best ways to explore new places from the perspective of a local. Every day I learn something new as I’m getting familiar with the environment – sometimes it makes me happy, sometimes desperate and sometimes surprised but I do not get tired of it! 🙂 Living abroad also opens brand new opportunities you have not considered before. At home, you often feel under pressure of social conventions but once you are out there on your own, you realize you can do whatever you want. Plus, in Sweden they make a lot of cakes! 🙂

Follow along with Monika on Twitter and Facebook

My Thousand Worlds

Nicola Easterby of Polkadot Passport

Original country: Australia

Moved to: New Zealand

Reason for moving abroad: As much as I would love to say I moved abroad in order to go on some fabulous adventure, I actually moved abroad to New Zealand purely as a transitional phase so I could save up to travel more! My whole family moved across so it made sense for me to go with them at the time. I figured it would be an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone, explore a new country, and save funds whilst I was at it.

Best thing about being an expat: For me, the best part about being an expat was completely breaking out of my comfort zone. Having lived ten years of my life in Brisbane, Australia, I was starting to get very comfortable and settled living there. Yet I never wanted to feel stuck in one city for the rest of my life! Moving to New Zealand was one of most challenging years of my life, but it really taught me to enjoy my own company, how to be active in making new friends, and the importance of seeking opportunities to establish myself. Plus, I had a pretty beautiful country at my doorstep to explore!

Follow along with Nicola on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Polkadot Passport

Anna G of The Fearless Flashpacker

Original country: USA

Moved to: Bahrain

Reason for moving abroad: I was temporarily assigned to my employer’s office there.

Best thing about being an expat: Unlike transient visitors, you have a chance to absorb the culture, history, cuisine, and language of your second country. But above all, you make a family of friends: locals and fellow-expats alike. The further you are from home, the less pronounced differences become.

Follow along with Anna on Twitter and Facebook

 Liz Kelly of Sweden Dreaming

Original country: USA

Moved to: United Kingdom (Glasgow and London)

Reason for moving abroad: I didn’t find out I had UK dual citizenship until I was 22. Once I did, I knew studying in the UK would help me get through the recession. Even with a BA I couldn’t get a job. In 2009, I moved to Scotland to study a master’s degree at Glasgow University. I moved to London after graduation, and have lived in the capital since.  

Best thing about being an expat: My experience has been somewhat unique, because I live in a foreign country but it’s where my family is from and still lives. Being able to meet and spend time with my extended family has been priceless. Being based in London means I can travel to the continent frequently and cheaply. Overall, having my worldview widened has been great. I was always open and curious about the world, but now I feel like I’m really able to experience it.

Follow along with Liz on Twitter and Instagram

Menorca Chaturvedi of Europe Diaries

Original country: India

Moved to: Germany and Switzerland

Reason for moving abroad: I moved to Germany for my Master studies and then moved to Switzerland for my thesis. I decided to stay back after that to work and travel.

Best thing about being an expat: Experiencing a different culture, meeting people from different countries, backgrounds, cultures and knowing them closely. Also, you get a lot of opportunities to talk to people about your country, culture and break certain stereotypes that may have formed in their minds.

Follow along with Menorca on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

 Melanie Holt of Don’t Forget Snacks

Don't Forget Snacks ExpatOriginal country: Australia

Moved to: Belgium

Reason for moving abroad: My reason for moving abroad is a classic one: the ol’ study abroad love story. While I was studying abroad in the USA, I met a wonderful fellow exchange student from Belgium. He soon became my boyfriend, and before even finishing the semester we started making plans for when I would move over to Belgium. After a year and a half of long distance, the plans came to fruition: I moved to the land of fries, waffles and rain in July 2014. It was a great decision!

Best thing about being an expat: For me, the best thing about being an expat is the impermanence of it. Being unsure about how long we’ll live here spurs me to try and experience as much of Belgium (and Europe!) as possible. It was so easy to postpone doing something new at home; I felt like I had the rest of my life to get around to it. Here, the idea that I could move away from Belgium and end up regretting not doing things motivates me to make the most of every day.

Follow along with Melanie on Twitter and Instagram

Trish from Travels and Tipples

Original country: USA

Moved to: Germany

Reason for moving abroad:I had traveled to Europe several times and loved it each and every time.  I knew there were opportunities to work in Germany in my profession, so I started applying for positions in the spring of 2010 and moved to Germany in January 2011.  So, I moved abroad because I got a job in Germany but the reason I wanted to work in Germany was for the travel opportunities.

Best thing about being an expat: If I have to choose just one thing, it’s the travel opportunities.  Living in Germany, I can easily drive or take the train to the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein and the Czech Republic for weekend trips or even day trips.  Not to mention Germany itself has countless amazing things to see and do.  I still have not run out of things to do within a 2-hour drive of my town.  I also live very close to Frankfurt airport so air travel is easy as well.  My goal is to visit every country in Europe!

Follow along with Trish on Twitter and Facebook

Rachel from The Department of Wandering

Original country: AustraliaA walk in the snow in Berlin, winter

Moved to: Germany

Reason for moving abroad: Originally I moved from Australia to Germany because my boyfriend, Ben, had accepted a contract at Volkswagen so I left my job in Australia and moved abroad too. I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to move to Berlin! It took me a little while to find a job over there, mainly because of the language barrier, but I eventually found a job as a secondary English teacher in an International School in the centre of the city. We’ve now been expats for almost two years!

Best thing about being an expat: Without a doubt, the best thing about being an expat in Europe is the endless opportunity to travel. Living in such a central location in Europe means that it is all too easy to travel internationally every other weekend. A few weeks ago, we jetted off to Copenhagen for only € 25! I love having so many different cultures right at my doorstep too. In Australia, it’s a little more difficult to travel to another country for a weekend escape!

Follow along with me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook


Want to know more about my expat experience? Check out these posts on expat life:

10 Reasons Why You Should Become an Expat

Why I’ve Lived in an Airbnb Flat for a Year (With No Plans to Move)

The German Spa Experience: WARNING: Nudity Expected

If you’re an expat or have been in the past and are interested in sharing your experiences in next month’s ‘Expats share’ post, get in touch!

What’s your opinion on this month’s question? Do any of these expat responses resonate with you? Join in the discussion and share your perspective in the comments below!