7 Things I Desperately Wish Someone Told Me About Being an Expat

I liken the differences between traveling to another country and living there, to the differences between observing a bucking bull and being on the back of one. I learned this after living in Puerto Rico*, Amsterdam and my husband David’s hometown, a small village outside of Barcelona.

What do I wish I would have known before all of this?

1. You Will Have Frequent Moments of Profound Loneliness and Complete Inadequacy

Every country has two worlds: the citizen’s world and the traveler’s world.

The traveler’s world is comprised of people who likely speak your language, are trained to deliver the comforts you expect and shelter you from the discomforts normal citizens maneuver around daily. They are paid to be patient with you, and their livelihood is entirely dependent on your happiness – so they do their damndest to deliver it. (Yes, independent travelers, this applies to you, too.) …

The Only 3 Reasons to Go to College

The one question my parents permitted regarding college was, “Which are you going to attend?” Their persistence proved so successful I never considered, perhaps the other question, “Should I even go?”

Lucky for me, mom and dad’s persuasion was accompanied with an offer to pay for all expenses minus the “fun” money – for which I would spend summers earning and the school year spending – one $10 visit to the ATM at a time.

As a high school senior, I felt college was not only “the right thing to do,” but doing otherwise meant a lifetime of selling Slurpees at the 7/11. …

When Edie Summers was in her 20s she was in a severe ski accident which required extensive therapy, medication and surgery. Edie and doctors think her body’s physical trauma from the accident and the subsequent surgery had a secondary impact — the onset of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In Edie’s process of healing her body from the ski accident she had learned a great deal about alternative therapies. She decided to heal her Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the same way. It would take two major bouts of the illness to rid herself of it, but today she lives virtually symptom free.

How do you think you got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from a ski accident?

Dante found a recruiter who was looking for people to teach ESL in various locations around the world. He originally had a job lined up teaching English in South Korea but the paperwork fell through. Then a job came along in Saudi Arabia. The pay was more than in the South Korea and the paperwork could be processed quickly. Within a week, Dante was on his way to Saudi Arabia to teach English for a year. …

How to Live, Work and Love Living Expat Life in Belize

In 2006, Lara Goldman’s husband was killed in a plane crash. Two years later she was ‘not getting any better.’ Around this time she had a conversation with her sparring partner. It reminded me of a conversation I would have with myself every time I was on a hour plus commute (one way) to work which was, ‘how much of my life would really change if I was a barista?!?’ Except for Lara’s conversation was, ‘how much could it really cost to live on a tropical island?’ Unlike me who could never quite get an answer to that question, Lara’s sparring partner had real intel. He recommended living in Costa Rica, El Salvador or Belize as low cost but solid tropical options. At the time, Lara did not even know exactly where Belize was. …

have spent the last 5 months walking, running and stumbling past the “women in the windows” in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. The questions that ran through my head were never ending and never answered. One day, I just had to stop and ask. This is what one of them had to say:

How did you decide to get into prostitution?

I wanted my own money. Both of my parents have a higher education but we were a poor family. When I turned 18 I knew I could separate love and sex. …

Craig planned to go on vacation to Cambodia for about three weeks. While he was there, he was having such a great time he extended his trip by a few days. He was only back in the United States for a few weeks before he decided he was going back for good. Two and a half weeks after he made this decision, he was living in Cambodia.

Here is a bit of his story.

What made you go back?

I met a lot of good people while I was here. When I went home I had an interview scheduled. I walked into the interview and saw a room of cubes and thought, ‘This is a prison.’ I was still in touch with people I met in Cambodia. I thought, ‘They are doing it. They found jobs. I can too.’ I lived in Detroit my whole life except for when I went to college. I needed a change. …

At 31, doctors told Joy Hawk she was infertile. Determined to be a mom, Joy went through a two year in vitro fertilization (IVF) process which allowed her to give birth to her daughter, a small baby girl very near failure to thrive. After doctors discounted Joy’s questions about the possibility of her daughter’s health problems being related to food allergies, Joy started doing her own research. Based on her research findings she radically changed her and her family’s diet. As a result Joy, in July, will be giving birth to her third child, a baby conceived naturally. On the first try. …

In 2007 the City of San Francisco banned the plastic bag — so did the entire African Country of Rwanda. At the time of the plastic bag ban Rwanda did not have a domestic manufacturer of a reusable option, but the Rwandan government and people viewed banning plastic bag as so critical to the economics, environment and health of the country that they decided to ban it anyway. The innovations Rwanda have since implemented and the enormous positive impact the plastic bag ban has had on their country is an example the world should be watching.

Here is a bit of the story from Dr. Rose Mukankomeje, Director General of the Rwanda Environment Management Authority. …

Amsterdam’s Red Light district consists of street after street, alley after alley lined with windows occupied by women of every age, ethnicity and body type. After six months of witnessing this, I had to know how it worked. How they worked. What these women in the windows thought. What they did. What they didn’t do. One day, I hired one to find out. This is what I learned.

How did you got into prostitution?

(She holds out her hand face up) Money first.

Oh, sorry, sorry. (I hand her 50 Euros and she stashes it in a cabinet underneath the sink in the back of the…


The Delicious Day

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