I AM THE EXPAT DREAMER.
I'm a globe trekker with a passion for travel and exploration that has transported me around the globe.
I grew up in New York, surrounded by people from all kinds of places, and gained an interest and a respect for the cultures of the world. From local food specialties to music and foreign languages, I've always had a natural curiosity to explore what makes each country unique. It was only a matter of time before I moved abroad to embrace my destiny as an expat.
FAVORITE 'OUT THERE' TRAVEL EXPERIENCE
Riding a camel in the Saharan dunes of Tunisia
TRAVEL FILMS / SHOWS IN MY LIBRARY RIGHT NOW
A Room With A View, The Durrells in Corfu
IF I COULD BEAM ANYWHERE RIGHT NOW, IT'D BE..
The Greek islands; I need some tzatziki and warm sunshine
Global music, good Indian curry and a Swedish cardamom bun in the AM
I was fortunate to have had my first taste of expat life at a very young age, and so though the prospect of moving far from one's home country may be scary for many people, it was something I'd already experienced and was less intimidated by. When I was eleven years old, my family moved to France with an exchange program that my mother took part in. She had been a French teacher for many years, and when the roulette wheel of chance gave us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move abroad and experience life in another country, we took it. France had always held a warm place in our hearts, and we had traveled to the country on many occasions, visiting with friends and exploring on holiday. But moving to a small farm town in the middle of the remote countryside meant that we were on our own. In a pre-internet, pre-computer era, our weekends included attempts to assimilate into French culture with trips to local markets, food and holiday festivals, and eventually dinners with friends and colleagues.
Between my two siblings and I, only my older sister had studied French at school, my brother and I having been too young to take advantage of school language programs. For us, language learning started as a fun mixture of pantomiming, lip reading, sound mimicking, and of course the learning of school courtyard slang and naughty words (excitedly taught to us by our five- and eleven-year-old classmates). As time progressed, our French comprehension became more structured and we learned to communicate with full sentences, expressions and even sounds (of which several are stand-ins for words or phrases in France). Every now and again, my regional expressions pop out, and create absolute hilarity for the unsuspecting French national who (not even in their wildest imagination), would expect an American to sound like a Breton farmer who just returned from milking cows and feeding pigs.
DID I MOVE ABROAD?
First of all, I want to say here that becoming an expat is not for the faint of heart. It involves an excitement for travel and exploration, yes, but more than that, it requires a level of comfort with being thrown out of your element on a constant basis. Whatever control you think you have on things must be understandably put on hold (at least for a while). Things go wrong, things go right, and most days come with a humbling experience or two. You have to be ok with that, and rather than shy away, jump into it with open arms. Life is a learning lesson, and if you go with the flow, you reap the rewards. Becoming (and being) an expat is an incredibly rewarding experience if you know how to embrace everything it will offer you.
Living in France had (and continues to have) a profound impact on my life. For years, I missed the experiences I had enjoyed while living in a foreign country, I missed the thrill of learning to adjust in a new place and I missed celebrating holidays and other cultural festivities in Europe. I found myself hoping and wishing to return, not just as a tourist, but as a resident and full-fledged member of society.
When I first visited Sweden, I felt a connection and fell in love with the country and the way of being that is unique to Swedish culture. I was at a point in my life where I had both the desire and the opportunity to change my situation, and create a new adventure. After a good amount of time researching, organizing, planning for all scenarios, and wrestling my internal conscience, I decided to take the plunge, and pack my bags. I knew moving abroad, especially moving on my own, would not be without its challenges, but I was thirsty for adventure, and staying put would not satisfy my appetite.
My work as a graphic designer helped me in my move abroad, and continues to help me travel and see new places. The advantages of having a digital-based job mean that I can work from anywhere in the world, so long as I have a reliable internet connection. Thank you, technology of the modern era!
AM I TODAY?
These days I call Stockholm home. The Swedish capital continues to dazzle me as it did on day 1, with its many islands and mix of ever-present waterways, historic buildings, beautiful museums and unique neighborhoods, each with their own flair. I've discovered new corners of the city, celebrated and hosted holidays, taken part in some unique experiences, and met many incredible people along the way. The expat community is thriving in Stockholm, and flights to other European countries are reasonable from here, so you're never far from your next adventure, even if it's just for the weekend.
Looking back on my decision to become an expat, and what it took to get me here, I wouldn't change anything. Sure, it's been stressful and sometimes it's hard to work out the details, but the process has allowed me to grow as an individual, and given me enriching and unparalleled life experiences.