Monday, 24 June 2013

My Expat Life: from Santiago to Bishkek

Three British, onSwede,
two French, three Americans.  
All bloggers
Santiago, London, Moscow, Paris, 
WashingtonBishkek, Karlsruhe, Copenhagen
Two aspects; the good & the bad. 
One life; the expat life. 

A Mum in London

Solli, Swede expat in Copenhagen, Denmark 

The good: I love the fact that it's easy to find organic food, both in the regular super markets but also on the outdoor markets. Another thing I appreciate very much is that the cycling infrastructure is so well built that I can take my bike everywhere!

A Mum in London
Credit: Solli, Paris, Copenhagen and my life in between

The bad: Copenhagen is a charming city that I love and among the very few things that bothers me here is that the summers tend to be quite rainy. Not rainy for a short while, I mean rainy from morning till evening, which is a pity because it's the perfect period of the year to discover this city even more.

Lindsey, American expat in Paris, France 

The good: The sense of self-discovery expat-life encourages and even stimulates and the agility to adapt to a new life, culture and, in some cases, way of thinking. Life in France has not only opened up doors to opportunities that I may not have been exposed to otherwise but helped me become a more well-rounded and culturally informed thinker. It's a perpetual adventure - whether I'm navigating everyday life in Paris or exploring parts of Europe I've only read about - and that never stops feeling exciting. Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable also emerges from the experience which I think makes us more understanding and accepting people.

A Mum in London
Credit: Lindsey Tramuta by Ashley Ludaescher

The bad: Sacrifice! Missing family milestones at home, earning lower salaries (at least in France that's true) and paying higher taxes. But the social benefits outweigh the alternative and most of us manage to get through the nostalgic periods just fine. 

Julie, American expat in London, UK 
A Lady in London

The goodThe best thing about being an expat in London is that you never feel like a foreigner. The city is so international and diverse that people from all over the world feel at home here.

A Mum in London
Credit: Julie, A Lady in London

The bad: The worst thing about being an expat in London is getting set up when you move here. Basic things like opening a bank account, getting a mobile phone contract, and renting a flat take much longer than they do back home.

Muriel, French Expat in London, UK 

The good: I love everything about London. There is always something to do. I especially like the fact that I feel less judged over here. I trained as an Engineer in France and decided to become a lawyer when we came to London. In my home country, nobody understood my choice. In London, thanks to my dual training I had a lot more job offers!

A Mum in London
Credit: Muriel, French Yummy Mummy

The bad: I have to think hard about this one, because I like it so much in London that I eventually decided to become British. OK, maybe the most difficult part is the cost of living in London: everything is very expensive, and I found out what expensive meant when we moved here!

Tamsin, British expat in Santiago, Chile 

The good: I love the warmth of the Chilean people, the local fresh produce (avocados here are just divine) the beautiful weather, mountain views and the amazing friends I've made over the last five years! It's been an amazing journey.

A Mum in London
Credit: Tamsin, Mama in Chile

The bad: I miss my family more than anything and find it very difficult to be far from them. Going back to visit is expensive and a huge hassle with two toddlers in tow. And I hate the smog here in winter, it's unbearable!

Claire, British expat in Washington, USA 

The good: Meeting new people from all walks of life; seeing things in the USA and saying 'it's just like in the movies' (because it is); taking new opportunities and creating a wider and different perspective on life; being shocked and surprised about, and acknowledging, the cultural differences between the UK and the USA; enjoying the warmer climate and feeling a little bit like I'm on my holibobs a lot of the time; and spouting forth British colloquialisms so that my American friends don't quite understand what I am saying, because this amuses me greatly.

A Mum in London
Credit: Claire, Desperate English Housewive

The bad: Wanting to try all the new foods and then trying to lose the ten pounds that come with that; trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup at all costs; attempting to understand the healthcare system; always wrinkling my brow at the US obsession with hygiene; not being able to have a glass of wine and chat with my best friends at 9pm at night because of the time difference; wondering all the time if we made the right decision with my son's schooling; and having great experiences and then having massive guilt issues about that when things aren't so good for friends and family back in the UK.

Alex, American expat in Karlsruhe, Germany 

The good: The people I met abroad that have opened my eyes to new ideas, experiences, and most importantly become my family. Also, things that come easy in the United States are daily challenges for me in Germany - character building at its finest.

A Mum in London
Credit: Alex, ifs ands & butts

The badMissing important events in the lives of your friends and family at home. When something exciting happens, I want to be there to witness their smile more than anything. Related: the price of a plane ticket home.

Clare, British expat living in Moscow, Russia 

The good: Taking the decision to become a first-time in expat in your 40's pushes you firmly out of your comfort zone, whilst taking the decision to become a first time expat in your 40's in Moscow puts you so far outside your comfort zone you forget you ever had one. Despite how that sounds, this is a good thing; the little annoyances that can form a part of your daily landscape 'back home' are revealed as just that - little - and it makes you realise that life is not about 'stuff' but about opening yourself up to new experiences and to different points of view.

A Mum in London
Credit: Clare, The Potty Diaries

The bad: There's no getting away from it; 6 months of winter stinks. Crisp blue skies, pristine white snow, and walking through clouds of glitter on days of -15degC can all be glorious, but cold is cold.  And Russian grammar is, I'm afraid to say, a bit of a bxtch...

Alex, French expat in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan 

The good: I love so many things about being an expat. Among my favorites are: feeling like every day is an adventure, learning a new language, getting lost in translation, adapting to a new culture (especially as a manager), making amazing friends from all around the world, partying with a group of 15 people coming from 10 different countries… If I am being totally honest, when living in a developing country, it is also great to be able to afford a lot more things than in Europe, even after having given up a corporate job for one in social business.

A Mum in London
Credit: Alex, Checking out Landlocked Sushi

The bad: Not being able to take a proper shower during 3 days because the neighbors are watering their plants (!!!). Missing things like basil, balsamic vinegar, croissants… and friends and family. But to tell you the truth, I have experienced the ugly before… It is when it all ends and you go back to your country, where many things seem somewhat dull. So far, I have always found it easier to adapt to a foreign country than readapting to my own.

A Mum in London

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  1. Gosh, what very glamorous photos, ladies!

    Very interesting to read everyone's thoughts.

  2. Thanks for this post, Alexia! I love this series!

    1. Nice to have your expat input, Muriel :)
      Thank you for contributing!

  3. A great roundup - could not agree with them more. Expat life can be hard but is also highly addicting!

    1. You're so right, it's addicting & exciting.

  4. These are all wonderful details to read about other people's expat experience! Thank you for sharing them all!

    1. It's interesting to see the variations from country to country. Thank you for your comment!

  5. The worst part of my expat life is missing family & friends and, I agree with Lindsey, taxes in France are so not expat-friendly :(

    1. Taxes in the UK are not expat-friendly either :(


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