Friday, 19 July 2013

My Expat Life: from Paris to Nagoya

One Mexican, three Americans, one Dutch, 
one Canadianone Australianone Trinidadian
All bloggers.
London, Buenos Aires, ParisRome, Nagoya
Two aspects; the good & the bad. 
One life; the expat life

Ylenia, Mexican expat in Paris, France 

The good: Living the dream! Many people daydream about living in the City of Lights but not everyone actually gets to do it. This city is gorgeous and full of surprises. If you keep an open mind you can get to experience amazing new things and meet the most interesting people you can possibly encounter. For me that I have a great love for photography, Paris has become my muse; it challenges and inspires me every day. There are so many things this city offers that even after almost three years of living here I still have so much more to see. That’s one of its biggest virtues.

A Mum in London
Credit: Ylenia, Ambitieuse

The bad: Yes, this is a dreamy city, but also a tough one. I believe people think you just have to grab your passport, move to Paris and it will be all “La vie en Rose”. Learning the language is the first of many challenges, but probably the most important one; from that point on it is almost like you have to constantly prove you deserve to live here. I could list many reasons why moving to this city is difficult, but what matters is that it is all worth it.

Jacintha, Dutch expat in London, UK

The good: Exploring a new city, going beyond the obvious tourist sights and really getting to know your new hometown, is one of the best things there is. When you're new in a city, you look at it in a certain way and you notice even the smallest details (which then are a great source of inspiration for another photo or blog post). And in London, there is so much to do, see and eat, that it is impossible to ever get bored. Plus that part of this experience is that you get to meet interesting new people every day and make new friends. Not only from London, but from all around the world.

A Mum in London
Credit: Jacintha, Urban Pixxels

The bad: Packing up your things and moving here is one thing. But then comes the paperwork… And there’s a lot of paperwork involved in the life of an expat. And for some reason, here in the UK they still often seem to prefer actual paper to digital. All the things that you took care of years ago back home – like bank accounts, insurances, taxes, tenancy agreements, doctors, electricity, internet and tv packages, etc – you'll need to do all over again. And if you’re not familiar with the ‘British system’ it takes more time than you'd like.

Maria, Trinidadian expat in Surrey, UK

The good: I love the anonymity that expat life gives. I’m free to be me. Being an expat means I can gain opportunities based on merit.

A Mum in London
Credit: Maria, Tiger Tales

The bad: Being a first time mum without the support of family is tough. Additionally it’s challenging to give my kids a sense of their heritage, when I’m so far from home. There is also a sense of being rootless and ungrounded.

Natalie, American expat in Rome, Italy

The good: The wine, the cheese, the olive oil, the homemade pasta and fresh seasonal delights. The fading terracotta colors of a centuries-old palazzo and the greeting of neighbors every night in the local square. The sound of Italian conversation dancing through an open window and the smell of sun-dried laundry. And did I mention all the pizza you can eat?

A Mum in London
Credit: Natalie, An American in Rome

The bad: The strikes, the public transportation and the infernal post office that manages most of the infernal bureaucratic red tape that seems to be part of every day life here. There is also the impending sense that the economic crisis is far from over and the growing awareness of how this downturn is really impacting regular Roman families.

Natalie, American expat in Buenos Aires, Argentina

The good: The sense of freedom. When you live abroad, it feels like anything is possible. There's always someplace new to explore, and every little corner of the city is exciting. As a result of this, I have met some of the most wonderful people and done things I never would have done if I had stayed in the US.

A Mum in London
Credit: Natalie, Buenos Aires Shopgirl

The bad: The distance. Whenever I have to travel for work or for pleasure, I usually have a minimum 10 hour flight. The geographical location has its issues, but overall it's worth it!

Selena, American expat in London, UK
Oh, the places we will go

The good: I'm loving this expat Life. I feel like I'm tuned into who I really am like never before. Experiencing new things is exciting and challenging. Living in London, the opportunities for travel are endless. And now that we are getting settled in, we are meeting the most interesting people and developing some great friendships. I'm changing and growing every day.

A Mum in London
Credit: Selena, Oh the places we will go

The bad: Moving to a completely new country is definitely a challenge. My self-esteem took quite a hit during that first year. Suddenly I was no longer living in my comfort zone and some of the simplest things became difficult. I found myself losing my ability to communicate effectively and my self-confidence wavered. Luckily, I think this is just a phase that many expats experience. I'm slowly getting back that confidence.

Lauren, Australian expat in Paris, France

The good: Having so many countries, cultures and cuisines at your fingertips. The wealth of knowledge and experience I have gained and beauty I have seen since moving to France and travelling all over Europe is beyond measure. Uprooting oneself from a very comfortable life at home to someplace where you are alone and a different language is spoken completely changes your perspective on people and life in general, in my opinion for the better. It narrows down your priorities, and the people you allow yourself  to meet along the way shape you into (hopefully!) a better and more beautiful person. Also, the 'pain au chocolats' quite heavenly.

A Mum in London
Credit: Lauren, Folies du Bonheur

The bad: A friend recently tweeted "The hardest thing about being an expat isn't being far from home, it's not being able to be two places at once". For me, this completely sums up "The Bad" about being an expat. Right now I don't particularly want to be living in Sydney, at home, as there are far to many opportunities for me and things to see and do here, in Europe. But not being present at important events, such as weddings and birthdays, and even just those unplanned, spur-of-the-minute afternoon "barbies", breaks my heart regularly. But this only inspires me more to make the most out of living in Europe - I book a trip, see an expo, go sit by the Seine with my lovely local friends and drink some fantastic French wine, and know this won't be for ever, I'll be home eventually.

Adrienne, Canadian expat in Nagoya, Japan

The good: Living in different countries provides you with amazing life experiences you wouldn’t be able to have otherwise, and it teaches you a surprising amount about your own country and culture. Japan is a great country to be an expat in because there is so much to do, and see. There are beautiful places to explore, delicious foods to try, thousands of years of history to learn about, and surprising finds in unexpected places. Japan is vastly different from my home country, Canada, which makes living here all that more interesting!

A Mum in London
Credit: Adrienne, Adrienne in Japan

The bad: Aside from the obvious difficulties that come with expat life, like missing friends and family back home, one of the hardest things about being an expat in Japan is that you will never truly fit in. It’s not that it’s impossible to make friends or be accepted in Japan, but not being Japanese means that there’s always something noticeably different about you. No matter how fluently you speak, or how well you’ve adapted, you’ll always be the “gaijin” (non-Japanese, or foreigner). You get used to the idea, but it can be frustrating on those days where you just want to sink into the background, and do your own thing, unnoticed.

More Episodes


  1. Love this series! (And very proud to be featured in it :-). Great way of getting to know other expats and their blogs.

    1. So happy you contributed, Jacintha! Thank you so much :)

  2. Many thanks for the series and for the invitation to participate!

    1. Thank you, Natalie, for contributing and sharing a bit of Rome's life!

  3. Great series! I hope to be a part of it in the future!

  4. I really liked the things about the city of lights But making a move there is quite difficult which is really a thing that must be worked upon as the a lot of paper work there can make the visitors to choose another option instead of the city of lights.

  5. Thanks Alexia for inviting me to participate! Wonderful series on a lovely blog!

    1. Thank ypu, Natalie, for joining the series! Happy you liked it :)


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