The Life of Expats (or at least this Expat)

22:08 Alyson Tart 2 Comments

Since I started this blog to chronicle our life as an expat, I haven't really talked much about that very subject for which the blog was designed - life as an expat.

I've talked about jet lag, lost in translation moments and missing holidays at home, but spent most of my time talking about the best part of living overseas (of course the traveling). But is that what it really means to be an expat? Sure, I love exploring the city and world around me, but that is only a small part of why we've chosen this lifestyle for ourselves overseas.

For the past few weeks, I've been struggling with what expat life means to me as we figured out what 2014 would hold for us. Am I a temporary expat, learning some things and taking them back home? Or is this lifestyle somehow embedded itself deeper into my being, nestling in my soul?

For me, I know I've found myself in expat life. Something was always missing from my life in Texas despite my fantastic family & friends, and a life that many probably hope for, husband house, golden retriever and all. When we made a quick and perhaps suprising decision to move to Turkey, my life changed in so many ways yet I jumped in wholeheartedly and never looked back. I was surrounded by other expats with a similar desire to see the world. I was surrounded by the history I had never experienced in the US, much less Texas. Every new place, site, sound, smell was exciting and new.

Yet, this year as I started to look at my future as an expat, I realised I am just as guilty of romanticising it as everyone else. Perhaps by only documenting the best parts of living overseas, you give yourself a way to forget about the worst.

Like the frustration at never being able to be understood in a different language, a culture with people who lack the Southern hospitality you're so used to, a life where people rotate in and out, a lifestyle that people don't always understand and thousands of miles between the people you grew up with. Your old home isn't really home any more, but your new home isn't quite either. This is the part of expat life that people don't talk about.

So what have I decided about life as an expat?

I'm not sure I'll ever come to a complete, decisive verdit. All I can say for now is it has changed my life in the most amazing ways. And despite all the bad, I would do it all over again. I'm not quite ready to give it up yet either- and luckily, I'm blessed to have the opportunity to stay in the UK for another year. Which means more time to think about what expat life means to me and what the future of this expat holds - with a little bit of travel along the way.

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  1. This is really good, Alyson! I'm sure my feelings about being an expat will change and grow the longer I am one. Being an expat as a teen taught me one big lesson early on. After you've left home to live somewhere else, you will forever and always be missing someone or somewhere.

    When we moved to Singapore, I missed my Tennessee home and friends. When we moved back to Tennessee I missed Singapore. Then when we moved to Florida, I missed Tennessee and Singapore... you get the picture. This part about moving is hard for me, but the benefits of living like this far outweigh the negatives in my opinion!

    1. Hi Sarah - thanks for the note and for stopping by!! Yes, it's funny how much you miss something once you've made the decision to leave. While I love London, I still wax poetic about Istanbul all the time. I'd agree that it's worth all the negatives to get to live the way we do, it's good to remind yourselves of both sides of the argument every once in a while :)