Tuesday, 11 June 2013

My Expat Life: from New York to Moscow

Two British, one New Zealander
one Romanian, four Americans
All bloggers
New York, Moscow, London, 
Copenhagen, Washington
Two aspects; the good & the bad. 
One life; the expat life.

A Mum in London
Alex, British expat in New York, USA
The good: Living abroad you get to understand, and take part in, a totally different culture. We might think Americans are similar to us but in four years on Long Island, NY, I've learned that they are very, very different. You can compare the good aspects of their culture with your own in the UK, and you can also think about what works better in your own country. Going back, I feel I've learned a lot about the US in just four years.

The bad: You're always alone on holiday days. At Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving, everyone around you flocks to their extended family, and you are on your own. Plus, you miss out on family occasions such as weddings, christenings and birthdays that you would definitely have attended at home.


Lauren, American expat in London, UK
The good: You get to have your own world. Your life in a new country isn't based on family ties or the community you were raised in - but each relationship is the result of your own interaction. I love living in our little life with the people we have become close to and knowing that they are real friendships- not inherited connections.

A Mum in London
Credit: Lauren, Aspiring Kennedy

The bad: Family guilt can be tough. It's hard to keep people happy when you've chosen to live away from them, but at the end of the day- you have to realize that the 98% of your life that is enjoyed away more than makes up for the little bit that you are missing out on when you miss out on family activities. (Plus, I always think the time spent together is so much better now that we have moved away. It forces us to be intentional and enjoy the moments!)


Iota, British ex expat in the USA
The good: My best thing about being an expat is realising that you still, as an adult, have a sense of adventure.

The bad: My worst thing (and I apologise for being unoriginal) is being away from family. I hated missing significant birthday parties, weddings, and other family gatherings.


Ania, Repatriated expat in Washington, USA
Soon to be expat again to Copenhagen, Denmark
The New Diplomat's Wife

The good: Close to family, close to just about every convenience at any hour, and lots of fountain diet coke on ice (my weakness!) to my heart's content!
A Mum in London
Credit: Ania, The New Diplomat's Wife

The bad: The feeling that as an expat who returned home you're not really an expat, and you're not really at home in the same way - it's hard to know where you fit in sometimes!  And of course, just like everywhere, just as soon as you're getting your bearings it's time to pack up again...


Otilia, Romanian expat in London, UK 

The good: I love the accessibility and what London has to give to me and my family. No matter the age you can never get bored in London.

The bad: When you're away, you don't have your parents around which means there's no help either. And with paid babysitting being so expensive our outings are spend with the kids. We don't really get to go out much but his is what parenting is I guess.


Tina, American expat in Copenhagen, Denmark
The good: Being an expat is full of excitement and a daily sense of exploration. Denmark is our third country of residence outside of our homeland, the US, and I was very nervous about making yet another huge change. Everyone said that the Danes were cold and reserved and I was scared that we would never make friends! After arriving, though, we have found the Danes to be quite welcoming and have quickly settled in. We love riding our bikes and I cannot get enough of Danish Design.

A Mum in London
Credit: Tina Fussell, Traveling Mama

The bad: Despite how much we love living in Denmark, I still struggle on a nearly daily basis with missing my family. I thought it would get easier with time, but have found the opposite to be true. The distance and the time only seem more vast as the days pass and we regularly talk about how we could scrape together enough money for a visit "home."  We have decided that if we could just simply export our family to Denmark then we would have it all. Our family seems to think it would just be easier for us to move back to the States!


Vicki, New Zealander expat in the UK
The good: Expat life gives you not only the opportunity to explore the world and the way other cultures and nations live, but also to explore the depth of your own self and the way you live your own life.

The bad: Expat life inevitably involves saying goodbye and letting go of places and people you have loved. Whilst you learn how to manage this sadness you never really entirely close those wounds.



Lisa & Ben, American expats in Moscow, Russia
The good: I believe being an expat is kind of a love/hate thing. Being so open and vulnerable to a new culture is an incredibly humbling and beautiful experience to have. It's a rare one, so if you're lucky enough to have fallen into that life, cherish it. You are given the opportunity to look at your home country and see it from another country's perspective. You see the good and the bad of the world: what works and what doesn't. All and all, the life I am currently living is a lot more difficult than if I were in my home country. But it's empowering and I feel grateful for having been changed.

A Mum in London
Credit: Lisa & Ben, Les Jours Contents

The bad: On the other hand, it's a difficult life. You're out of your element in almost every way possible: language, culture, customs, even style of dress. You're forced to really look at yourself in an honest way because all you really have is yourself
PS: My boyfriend Ben just leaned over to ask me what I was writing. This is his two cents: "Good to have new experiences, bad to miss stuff."


24 comments:

  1. I love it! So nice to hear everyone else shares similar thoughts on expat life. Thanks for including me!

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    1. Thank you for joining the project, Lisa (and Ben, of course):)

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  2. Interesting new series of posts! Good to hear how everyone perceives life as an expat.

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  3. As an expat too, I agree that, if anything, the expat experience is a very humbling one. Great idea to bring together expat bloggers on this subject.

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    1. Thank you and more episodes will follow!

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  4. Really interesting post. Thanks for including me!

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    1. Thank you so much, Iota, for joining, sharing & supporting the project.

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  5. Wonderful post! It is so nice to know that others feel very similar about the "expat life". I am heading over to "Les Jours Contents" since that is the only expat blog that I was not familiar with. When I was preparing to move and become an expat myself I developed quite an expat blog addiction. So nice to hear other expat experiences. Great idea!

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  6. Great post and nice selections of blogs that I did not know before. I will have to go and take a look now. Thanks

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  7. Nice roundup, Alexia! Thanks for asking me to be a part of it. It's fun to hear others' views about being an expat.

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    1. Yes, it's so fun and comforting too seeing so many people share the same feelings. Thank you for taking part, Nappy Valley Girl.

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  8. "Good to have new experiences, bad to miss stuff." Completely sums it up! Yin yang, balance and all that. It's a good life, if complicated, and of all my expat friends I can't think of any who don't feel lucky to have had the chance to live it.

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    1. I agree, that phrase sums up the whole expat experience.

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  9. Fantastic and thank you! Looking forward to read the blogs!

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    1. Thank you, Otilia, great to have you in this project.

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  10. Wonderful joint post, thanks for sharing! Liked the way some thoughts were so well-phrased. I'm also an expat mum (Ukrainian living in London) and finding yourself lost for words... It can be so complicated :)

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  11. It's so true - there's a definite sense of adventure about packing a family up and moving halfway across the world. For me, it's made being a 'stay-at-home' mum a lot more exciting than I think it would have been had we stayed in the UK (we're now in Pakistan). I, too, miss the family thang, but it does make meeting up again much more exciting.
    Thanks for a great post.

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    1. It's definitely an adventure!
      Good luck in your new life in Pakistan :)

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  12. All of this rings so, so true! I'm a weird mix--born in the US to English parents, then back to England, back to America, etc. Last year I brought my daughters, ages 8 and 16, from America to England with me for the entire 12 wonderful months and what a time we had!

    Good, I guess, to have two countries to love and compare!

    Take a look at my blog, The Year of Living Englishly
    www.theyearoflivingenglishly.wordpress.com, in particular the post, US vs UK: What Each Country Does Best theyearoflivingenglishly.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/us-vs-uk-what-each-does-best/

    --Virginia A Smith

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  13. Lovely entries and all so true. I look forward to phase 2 :0)

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  14. Thanks for including me! Such a wise group I feel honoured to be part of it. Vx

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    1. I agree, very wise input. Thank you for being part of it, it was a pleasure and a honor to have you on the project.

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  15. I think Lauren's take on 'inherited connections' is interesting. Of course it is true that as an expat you only have the friends and connections that you make yourself in your new home, but I had not thought of it like that before.

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  16. The post by Ania really hit home. I've just repatriated back to NY from London and feel incredibly lost. Yes, I'm now close to my family and friends but it's so hard to share my experiences with them. And being home is certainly not as exciting. We've only been back for 5 months and I'm already yearning for another opportunity to live abroad.

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