Thursday, 5 September 2013

My Expat Life: from Stavanger to Lima

One Italian, two British, one Dutch, 
one Canadian, one Australian, one Finn. 
All bloggers
Hong Kong, AthensMunich
London, Lima, Stavanger. 
Two aspects; the good & the bad. 
One life; the expat life

Jay, Canadian expat in Stavanger, Norway
The goodNorway is a ridiculously beautiful country and the scenery continues to amaze me. I find myself stopping in awe regularly just wanting to drink in everything. The air is clean and crisp, the tap water is delicious and the society really values the environment. People here get outside as often as possible, particularly when the rain subsides.  I also feel like we really make an effort to seize the moment while we're here. From exploring Norway to catching a flight elsewhere in Europe, we make the most of our time as we know our it's limited. In general, expat life is an adventure and I relish how much I'm learning and evolving on a daily basis.

A Mum in London
Credit: Jay, From There to Here

The badNorway may be stunning but the weather can be intolerable. I'm certain I've seen more rain in the last year than I have in the ten prior.  It's also one of the most expensive places in the world, well ahead of known pricy cities such as Paris, London and New York requiring one to be very conscious about the kroner and how little it will get you. Most expats will tell you that it can feel a little lonely in every location but I've found Norway to be more-so than our last expatriation.  People sort of keep to themselves here so starting off, making friends and filling the social calendar is a little difficult.

Emma, British in Munich (via Copenhagen!)
The good: Munich is a lovely city. It's friendly and welcoming, full of traditions, and completely safe. We love how close we are to the mountains, which is just as well because the winters here can be long and hard and full of snow. Being so central to everything in Europe is great when we go exploring - it doesn't take long to get to Austria, Italy, Switzerland or Prague. The opportunities for our children have been incredible, and I love the fact that we have two tiny global citizens now (and the fact that they are better at languages than me is very helpful!!)...

A Mum in London
Credit: Emma, A Bavarian Sojourn
The bad: Missing London, and being away from family and friends of course. I try not to reflect on the things that we have missed out on, but look to what we have experienced instead, but the guilt about being so far fom certain family members doesn't get easier... Getting to grips with the language isn't always easy either, and I am afraid I will always pine for certain supermarkets from home (we are very spoilt when it comes to food shopping in the UK!)... But that's honestly about it!

F., Italian expat in London, UK

The good: I've lived in London for over 10 years and I still love it. I love the fact that it is a great city to party hard and work hard, but it is also a fantastic place to bring up a family. I love the restaurants, art galleries, museums and the unique street fashion that this city offers. I still don't get British humour or the British love for the countryside. In the UK I feel like an expat, but in multicultural London I feel at home.

A Mum in London
Credit: F, From Fun to Mum

The bad: As an Italian raised with the Alps in the winter and the beautiful beaches in the summer, the cons of living abroad are all to do with missing the weather and the beauty that my country has to offer. If I could bring the Italian weather and beauty to England, I would be in heaven.

Judith, Dutch expat in the UK
The good: What I love about living abroad is that life has a slight sheen of unreality, of eternal holiday about it. You get a chance to reinvent yourself and break free from the perceptions people had of you when you were growing up. The every day is just that little bit more mysterious and magical because you are an outsider; tedious things like finding work or taking out insurance are just that little bit more bearable because of the novelty of doing it in a different country and you always have an ace up your sleeve when you make mistakes: how could I have known? I'm a foreigner!

Credit: Judith, The Secrets of the Sandpit
The bad: The tough thing about living in a different country is really the flip side of that coin: the feeling that nobody can ever know or understand you completely, inside out. How can my friends know the real Judith when there is always a thin veil of translation between my innermost feelings and what I convey to them in English? How can they understand what makes me tick when they miss the context of growing up in a completely flat country, of Dutch humour, of the sensible consensus, of cycling along the coast with the wind in your face? But then, to a certain extent that is a problem we all have when we move away from the house we grew up in, whether within the same country or half way across the world.

Nicole, Australian in Hong Kong

The good: Living in one of the world’s most densely populated cities is a tight squeeze but you can rest assured while Hong Kong might be bursting at the seams, there’s always room for one more expat. I love living in a place where you can find so many likeminded people all bonding over their decision to up stumps and relocate to a new country. At the same time you can mix it up with the locals and soak up a new, dynamic culture that is quite different in many ways from my own. It’s a steep learning curve but one worth climbing. Hong Kong is a vibrant, pulsating city with so much to offer, it’s a city that’s hard to beat when it comes to having it all. Being an expat, you feel like you’re on a permanent adventure. It’s certainly never dull! Another upside, I’ve almost mastered chopsticks!

A Mum in London
Credit: Nicole, Mint Mocha Musings

The bad: The inevitable downside is, of course, being away from precious family. I’m very close to my parents and my sister who now has a little baby girl not too much younger than my own daughter. There are the neverending goodbyes, which definitely don’t get any easier over time. I’m lucky to see them regularly but there are times I wonder what I’m doing in a faraway land. You also know at some point you’ll have to say goodbye to the good friends you’ve made in your new home. Hong Kong is a very transient place. On a daily basis, being an expat in a city where you don’t speak the native language can make everyday things difficult. Sometimes the daily challenges - like getting a taxi to the right place – are just all too much. Mind you I’ve become pretty good at speaking ‘Chinglish!’

Bex, British expat in Athens, Greece

The good: It's weird... I may fit the dictionary definition of an 'expat,' but I don't feel like an expat. I feel like an honorary Greek. Just because you're born in a country, doesn't mean that your birth country has to feel like home to you. It's that way for me with the UK (my birth country) and Greece (my 'expat' country). Don't get me wrong, there are things about the UK I love: the way things function for a start! But as soon as I stepped off the plane in Greece, something inside me clicked, and I heaved a sigh of relief... I thought "Finally, I'm home."
A Mum in London
Credit: Bex, Leaving Cairo

The bad: For me, to be perfectly honest, there hasn't been much 'bad.' OK, Greece is going through a terrible crisis currently and I live year by year, hoping my job as an English teacher will be there next year for me. But people are kind, life is simpler and this has made me appreciate life. One bad aspect of expat living, to be perfectly honest, can be other expats! I have a few 'expat' friends who also have Greek friends too. But there are a lot of expats who don't mix and spend their time complaining about the country they're in. Make the most of where you are (if you have no choice). Life is what you make of it.

Anna, Finnish expat in Lima, Peru

The good: Peru's impressive history and fascinating ancient cultures combined with the dynamic contemporary culture. In Lima you have nice beaches nearby, but within less than two hours flight you can find yourself in the jungle, desert or mountains! The country's economy is growing steadily and you can feel that there is a lot of happening at the moment in the fields of gastronomy, art and fashion. And even if Lima is a big city, lifestyle is pretty relaxed and people take time to hang out with friends and family.

A Mum in London
Credit: Anna, Academic Troll

The bad: Despite the economic growth, Peru is still a developing country: health care, education and environmental protection are among the issues that still need to be improved. Lima is smoggy and grey at the winter time, although it never gets very cold in here. Also, as a foreigner and especially as a woman you always have to take good care of your personal safety (yet avoid getting paranoid!).

More Episodes


  1. Thanks for having me Alexia - I quite enjoy these snippets into the lives of other expats all over the world!

    1. Thank you, Jay, for sharing aspects of your life in Norway and that ABSOLUTELY breathtaking photo!

  2. Lovely to read everyone's experiences! Thanks for your patience, glad I managed to get my act together in the end.

    1. I'm glad too! Thank you, it was very nice to have you, Judith!

  3. I love reading your "My Expat Life" posts. Hearing about the good and the bad is very interesting. I am always happy to learn about other expat bloggers and I was happy to see a few that I already knew about. :)

    1. Thank you, Gina, I find it so interesting too: it's like a small window in life all over the world!

  4. Another lovely installment. Just makes you realize how the world is getting smaller as we venture out and explore it :0)

  5. Happy to be featured here & enjoyed reading others' contributions and discover their blogs!

    Greetings from Lima,


    1. Thank you for joining the series, Anna! Glad you liked it :)

  6. Love it! Thanks for including me! :D

    1. Thank you for participating! I'm happy you liked it :)

  7. What in insightful post and there is the lovely Judith to make it even better!


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