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Saturday, May 2, 2015

new blog series: how becoming a long term expat has changed my life

About this time every year, I get the itch to leave Asia and go home.
Sometimes, I even think I am ready to throw in the towel and move home altogether.
Usually, it's over some trivial matter like the insane heat and humidity or the really big cockroach that has moved into one of my classrooms.

I never actually mean it though.

That said, there are times when being an expat is tough business.
Seeing friends have babies and get married and buy houses from a distant hurts.
Not being able to hug your mother for 10 months at a time sucks.
Wondering how to have babies yourself when your plan is to live abroad permanently is no small worry.
Sometimes, everything seems like it would be a billion times simpler if we moved back to America.

But Sean likes to remind me that the point of life is not making it as simple as possible, at least not for us.
Both of us are hard workers.
We work hard for ourselves and each other.
And we are okay with that.
In fact, there is no other way we would have it.

And moving to Taiwan has changed my life in irrevocable ways.
I owe Taiwan so much.
Actually, I am not even certain it's Taiwan I owe but the opportunity to step outside of myself and my bubble.
And this is what allows me to dig in my heels and bear the trying times, even when they are caused by something more serious than the weather or insects.

In this new blog series, Expat Gratitude, I will highlight how moving abroad has altered my life in ways I am so grateful for.
These are the things that have less to do with Taiwan and travel, and more to do with personal growth and reflection.

After all, the most precious thing I have to take with me whenever I do leave Taiwan will not be all the travels, the food, the photos or even the work.
It will be the person I have become; the person I am still becoming.
I am a very different-- and arguably better-- person today than the girl who stepped on the EVA Air flight from Seattle to Taipei three years ago.
And I cannot wait to tell you all about it.

Check out the Sunday Traveler for other great travel stories!

Add your comment

  1. Oh my goodness, do I ever agree with you! I owe moving abroad EVERYTHING. I love the person I have become since I left my home 8 years ago at the tender age of 21. I have not looked back since. Of course I have visited and will visit again (about once a year) but I can honestly say there hasn't been one moment I thought of moving back. I love everything 'abroad'. I have lived in 3 different foreign countries in as many continents and I love it. Yes, there have been tough times as well but now they just seem like a far away memory! I think I was made for living the expat life and I am very grateful that I have been able to do that.
    Just stay positive and think how lucky you are to be living the way you do :)

    1. Wow! I hope our expat life will be as varied as yours. Taiwan is our first stop and we have definitely lingered here longer than we thought we would, but we both get really, really emotional at the thought of leaving this lovely island. Eventually, in the next few years, we definitely will, but I know it will be a sad day.

  2. Ooohhh, I look forward to reading more about Expat Gratitude. We repatriated back to America last summer after spending 3 years living in Malaysia. It was the right time to go back home for a number of reasons. It was like leaving the table after a meal when you're full and satiated but not uncomfortably overstuffed with goodness. For some people, the right time never comes, and I've known serial expats who have taught all over the world. Find the path that's best for you.

    1. Oh my god, I loved, loved, loved your simile: It was like leaving the table after a meal when you're full and satiated but not uncomfortably overstuffed with goodness. That is what I am waiting for and keeping an eye out for. This feeling has not creeped up on us yet. When it does, we will prepare to leave Taiwan for either home or who knows where.

  3. Ahhh I love this! My time in London has come to an end (I fly home in about a month!) and I have become so reflective about how it has changed me! Can't wait for the series.

    1. Wow. I wonder what it will be like to go back home without a return ticket back to England. Sometimes I really do contemplate moving back and it just leaves me with so many questions. I hope your move brings you happiness and all the changes in you can flourish in Australia too!

  4. Yup being an expat has change me too, not so sure it's all for the best though, so I envy your experience!

    1. You know, life is lived in shades of gray. My expat life is not perfect and not all aspects of this life are better than the one I lived back home, but overall it is still positive and worthwhile and a step forward. For that, I am so appreciative.

  5. I'm thankful to my parents for a lot of things, but one of the most major things is the opportunities they've given me to live and travel abroad. It really does change you. Looking forward to reading more from this new series!

    1. Thanks! Sometimes I am flabbergasted when I think back to the shy/timid person I used to be before I began traveling the world. I could have stayed in a 50 mile radius of my hometown forever without batting an eye. Thank god I hopped on that airplane headed to Europe all those years ago. I still cannot believe I was brave enough to do it at 17 years old, let alone with just another 17 year old friend, but I am so glad I did. It was THE turning point in my life that led me to so much goodness.

  6. I think this is a brilliant idea for a series! Moving abroad, no matter how far, definitely affects you as a person and sometimes it's good to reflect on that.
    Can't wait to read your series, it might even inspire me to reflect on my own expat life :)

    1. Thanks! I think it's important to do. When you sacrifice so much to live so far away from friends and family, you have to be sure it's actually worth it. I know I reflect a lot to make sure I am still getting something out of the situation that makes the sacrifice worth it.