Monday, 8 July 2013

My Expat Life: from Buenos Aires to Bali

One French, one Britishsix Americans.
All bloggers.
Paris, Buenos Aires, Djibouti, Bali,  
Madrid, London, Shanghai.
Two aspects; the good & the bad. 
One life; the expat life. 

Vivi, American expat in Buenos Aires, Argentina

The good: Life is so rich. Living in a city that is bursting at the seams with people, art, culture, noise and passion is exhilarating. Argentina is a complex country, from its history, current political and economic climate, to the psychology of its residents.  It's never boring, not even for a minute.

My Expat Life A Mum in London
Credit: Vivi, My Beautiful Air

The bad: It is never boring - it is very intense. The hyperinflation is a challenge. It's noisy, it can be hard to find peace. Many people struggle to survive, let alone thrive. And it is very, very far from home. There has to be a price to be paid for so much fun.

Melissa, American expat in Paris, France
The good: Paris is a dream destination. One of the best parts of living here is... living here. The city has more beauty than you can imagine. It's a daily tableau of aesthetics and charm. A constant dare by the city to tempt you to take out your camera and try to capture its radiance, its light, its everlasting historic and monumental inspiration, that sparks the imagination and draws you into a world of utter sophistication. Paris offers neighbourhood friendliness in the little sector of the city where each Parisian etches out an existence that so many people merely dream of.

My Expat Life A Mum in London
Credit: Melissa, Prête-moi Paris

The bad: Paris is a dream destination. One of the hardest parts of living here is... living here. The popularity of this city makes living here so expensive, so sought out, so competitive that Parisians are forced into the suburbs and out of the aura of the city's charm. Prices soar, and room must be made for the hoards of wealthy tourists that are throwing money at people in hopes of attaining some sort of that Parisian existence that makes them feel like they are a part of this magical metropolis. Businesses fight for prestigious addresses, and then the little guy is offered a transport pass that allows him to travel free on the entire system throughout Paris and the suburbs, as a small compensation for the fact that Paris will soon no longer belong to Parisians. All in the name of profit. Gotta squeeze every last centime out of the most visited city in the world.

Christine, American expat in Basque Country, Spain

The good: Being immersed in a culture is such a personally enriching experience. You're tested often, and you have no choice but to break out of your comfort zone, especially when you don't share a common language. I have loved the opportunity to learn Spanish and appreciate the Spanish culture on a level much different than if I were only traveling here. Now, Spain is my second home and if I were to leave it, I'd miss it terribly.

My Expat Life, A Mum in London
Credit: Christine, Christine in Spain

The bad: Missing family holidays, weddings, births, and seeing your loved ones maybe once a year if you're lucky (at least when you're from the West Coast of the U.S. like me, and live this far away!) I don't think this part of being an expat will ever get easier for me.

Rachel, American expat in Djibouti, Djibouti

The good: Expats are always learning. Foreign languages, new people, new ways of greeting (hugs? Cheek kisses, and how many? Kissing the back of the hand? Shaking the hand?), new food and how to cook it, new vacation spots, new cultural faux pas. As an expat, my mind is engaged and curious about the world, not just to learn these new things, but to be involved in them and even changed by them.

A Mum in London
Credit: Rachel, Djibouti Jones

The bad: Expats are always learning. Constantly being on my toes to make sure I use the right vocabulary or don’t offend someone by failing to greet people in the proper order or not having the ability to have an instant, instinctive reaction and opinion about something is exhausting. And confusing. And can sometimes turn me into more of an observer than a participator in daily life.

Alexis, American expat in Madrid, Spain

The good: The best thing about being an expat has been how much I've learned about myself. Living in a new country can be a lot like being a child with new experiences everyday. From food to language, there's always something new to learn about. It's a great chance to practice being patient and open-minded.

My Expat Life A Mum in London
Credit: Alexis, Never Leave Here

The bad: A feeling of isolation. When I moved, I expected to keep in touch with friends and family regularly but with the time difference, scheduling Skype sessions and such can be difficult. Sometimes I've felt like I was missing out on a lot. Someone needs to invent teleportation already!

Kristin, American expat in Shanghai, China

The good: Being an American in China means that almost everything is an adventure here. I'm challenged on a daily basis and have come to realize that I'm stronger and more resilient than I ever thought possible. I feel privileged to be able to take part in a culture which is so different from the one I was raised in.

My Expat Life A Mum in London
Credit: Kristin, Donuts to Dumplings

The bad: The obvious answer is that I miss my friend and family back home. But I've also begun to miss some of the friends I've made here as well. Being an expat often means that you and your friends live a somewhat transient life. People are constantly coming in and out of my life, moving back to their home countries or on to their next assignment. I often feel like my life is on fast forward here and life transitions happen at warp speed.

Jo, French expat in London, UK

The good: I love many things about being an expat. Small things such as being excited for groceries shopping, just because it doesn't look like home, playing tourist every single weekend, being often surprised by the little differences in the daily life. But also the bigger picture of living abroad, which in my case means reinventing myself completely, or maybe just finding myself and not be afraid of what people think or say (as you don't know many people anyway...).

My Expat Life A Mum in London
Credit: Jo, Britishette

The bad: Well expats are usually people who love to travel. But when living away from family, vacations end up being a trip back home and so we get to take less exotic vacations to new places. I miss that. The other thing is you must get used to the fact that you don't "belong" anywhere: a foreigner in the country you live, you become also different from the people you left behind.

Rachel, British expat in Bali, Indonesia

The good: Living so close to gorgeous beaches, rice fields and jungle where we can enjoy beautiful walks and my kids can play outside every day. The Balinese are also very sociable and life revolves completely around family and community - the village in which we live is considered to be an extension of our family and people will drop anything to help you out any time of the day or night.

A Mum in London
Credit: Rachel, How to Escape

The bad: The frequent religious ceremonies are beautiful and I feel lucky to be a part of them but they also take up a lot of time and money and can become quite stressful. Also the traffic and rubbish problems in Bali are pretty bad at the moment. But by far the worst thing is cockroaches!

More Episodes


  1. Many of the "good" and "bad" resonate with me, no matter what the locale, but the one that's probably most poignant is the fact that as an expat, I miss so many milestones of my family at home.
    I love being an expat, but this year, for some reason, it stung sharply when I had to try to connect via Skype or FaceTime to sing Happy Birthday to one of my grandsons, or my daughters. And this year, it hurt for a long time, each time. Not sure what that means, but that would probably be the really bad thing about the expat life.
    Maybe next year it will be something different. In the meantime, I'm off to bask in the shade of a exotic date palm on the beach.

    1. Yes, "Skype birthdays" are hard. We do them too and they always leave a bittersweet taste.

  2. Such great little glimpses into the expat lives of others ! Thank you for including me.

    1. Thank you for taking part and for sharing such an interesting Parisian point de vue.

  3. What a great blog post. Enjoyed reading about everyone's lives.

    As a child, I lived and travelled around the world and can therefore relate to many of these experiences. I live in London now with family scattered around the world and the distance can be so tough at times. Sigh :(

    1. Thank you, Reema, happy you liked the post.
      And, yes, distance is tough, most of the times.

  4. Loved these interviews, can totally relate to many of the points mentioned here.
    Waiting for more episodes!

    Greetings from a Finnish expat in Peru,


  5. Hi I have read your post and Enjoyed reading about everyone's lives great blog well done. ....Thanks for sharing
    Expat Bali Classifieds


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...