Why would you do that? I don’t understand the appeal? Isn’t that just a real pain that lifestyle? When are you coming home? How long are you doing this for? Questions after question, all very typical of people that find out that you are an expat. It is so far from their comprehension, that they struggle to engage with you on any discussions about your weird, non conventional life abroad. My answer is, do I care what others think?Of course there is always a part of me that shudders at these questions, when asked, but at the same time I am so sure of this life and our decision to be on this path that I am bound by my own convictions to roll out my standard pater. However, for those that actually do want to hold a real conversation, one of genuine interest and intrigue, I am thrilled to let them into my little expat secrets of why I love this life and what living abroad means to me.
It’s short and simple……I love it.
Ok, ok that would make a very short blog post if I stopped there, so I’ll delve a little deeper. I love the freedom it brings for starters. Now ironically a lot of my desert girls will find this an odd one, as I know plenty that find that there is little freedom here, especially for those who haven’t been able to get a driving license, add in the heat restricting things and some conservative attitudes in this culture. But I do find it liberating. Ok I cant always be spontaneous with my day (but lets me honest I wasn’t that spontaneous anyway, once a planner always a planner) but I have the freedom to do what I want, spend more time on myself, learn new things without the trappings of what is expected from me if I was still back home. There are so many societal constraints, where you need to be hitting life’s milestones at certain points. Live the 9 to 5, own a house, get married, have kids in your 30’s.
On this journey time seems to stand still and actually the only marker you have to hit is the one you set to move on.
Life is never boring. Whether its waking up, knowing the sun is always shining in the desert or taking a stroll round one of the most breathtaking European cities in the world, you can’t beat it. C’mon who doesn’t want that? Knowing that I’m not limited by the trappings of my little island. Endless restaurant options (which you don’t need to reserve a week ahead, as every islander wants to eat there), a day at the beach pretty much guaranteed all year round, endless shopping 7 days a week operating past 5pm. Ok its the small stuff but I like that I have options, doing something that isn’t what everyone else is doing, changing up the same same.
It’s awakened my inner wanderluster. As a kid we didn’t really go on annual holidays and I wasn’t really one for loving it either, not easy living on an island which you have to leave to go anywhere. As I grew into my 20’s, met my lovely Hubby we entered the world of City breaks and I started to see the world and his nomadic expat life was suddenly mine. When we moved to Czech, the whole of Europe opened up, cheap rail travel was at our finger tips and we were off exploring, sometimes at a drop of a hat. Skip forward 4 years and we were in The Land of Sand and I was exposed to more amazing countries, which had never even been on my radar. The experiences that this life brings you, being able to explore places you’d never dreamt of, it blows my mind sometimes and it would never have happened if I wasn’t on this crazy expat train.
Easy going, me? Well that’s certainly was something I was not pre this path. I wouldn’t say I was neurotic, but I certainly was obsessed with my 5 year plan, keeping on track, hitting goals, a control freak. That’s all very well being that way, but I missed so many opportunities. I point blanked refused to even consider living abroad growing up, into my 20’s and in the first few years of married life, that wasn’t my plan. Boy was I wrong. I love that I am so much more relaxed, less structured, go with the flow, open to evey possibility 8 years on. I wouldn’t say I am nonchalant about things, but I am definitely more present, living it not existing and I love that.
I love that this life lets me be a little selfish. Not in a negative, self obsessed way, but we put ourselves first. I was definitely ruled by duty back home, feeling like I had for fulfill a certain role (especially after my Dad’s passing) and would often sacrifice myself for doing what I should do, not want I wanted to do. Now, we focus on our needs and whilst our families still mean the world to us, we have to do what is right for us and subsequently all my relationships have improved, because I am more me, rather than the image of me projected. Imagine how liberating and refreshing it is to just have you time, time to internalise your own needs and do everything to fulfil them. I’m telling you its life changing and if a change in country made that happen, I’m good.
This life isn’t always perfect, but I would not have it any other way. It can be stressful at times and the whole pack up, move, is daunting every time you do it, but its always exhilarating. Life abroad means a lot to me, it brings me so much joy, gratiutde and far more experiences than my little 45 square mile island could have. There are plenty of people that won’t experience half of what I have in the past 8 years and I am conscious of that every day, so I am living it, loving it and grabbing it by the expat balls.