Claudiaexpat shares her reasons why a roving life style is an intoxicating and exciting experience.
It is clear, that for someone who has never experienced life on the move, it would be impossible to convey the difficulties it entails to the uninitiated. Confusion between those giving advice at home (the ones who only see the glamorous side of expat life) and those living abroad (who try to convey a subtle message that not everything will be a bed of roses), abound.
Have you ever tried to explain where this fascination for a roving life style comes from or why is it so incredibly intoxicating? Where does the passion of discovering new cultures, meeting new people and learning more languages stem from? I have tried to organize my feelings and analyse why I have become so compelled by a wandering lifestyle:
You have more than one home
Not everyone is fortunate enough to maintain a place back home where they can become a tourist in their native land. I am, and I deeply enjoy the idea of being able to call home more than one place in the world. Besides, for me, home is also the place where a dear friend or relative will host me when I need it, where I feel welcomed, loved, and where I feel safe in the knowledge that my feelings and actions are not questioned. I can’t remember how it felt when I was young, before embarking upon this itinerant life, but I know for sure that I love closing one door only to open another and having more than one residence to return to.
There are more returns
Returns, indeed. I adore them when they happen in my passport country and, in my temporary host country. I even like them in the host country of a son or daughter, any place where we love to go or where maybe people we love live. It doesn’t matter where in the world it is, but we return often.
Life has a special rhythm
As expats, we don’t have Easter, Christmas or summer holidays as defining moments during the year. Instead, we link the phases of our lives to the countries we live, which include special events we go through: before and after an evacuation, when we had malaria, the winter season in Lima, the smell of humidity that is peculiar to the place you live. I don’t know whether this is practical or particularly beneficial at a psychological level, but I kind of like it. At times, when I look back on my life, I have the feeling it was meant to be, an experience that happened but one that had cadence. I retrace it with clarity because every phase is marked by the peculiarities of that country.
You make more friends
Obviously, the more you travel the more you meet new people. When you live abroad however, making friends is a process that becomes spontaneous and quite necessary. The quantity of new friends is generally so high that it includes different nationalities, backgrounds and situations, and increases the more open you are as a person. The global experience of making and keeping friends becomes really exciting.
In all senses. We give a face to names that we had only read about in geography books. We move from the imagined to the real world with extreme simplicity, and often in places that most people we know have never heard of or attach little or no meaning to; we learn to exist in situations/climates/languages/latitudes which are very different from one another. Exposure to other lifestyles, even if we do not realize it straightaway, works at a very deep level and makes us more flexible, broadening our horizons!
It is like holding the whole world in one hand
Once, in Tuscany, I was telling some friends about something that happened to us in Peru. My husband, who was travelling outside the country, called me to say that instead of getting back to Lima, he would sleep overnight in Bogota, Colombia. The laughter from one friend, and the incredulous gaze of another, made me realize that geography had become so familiar to us, and yet while we have no problems whatsoever in moving – mentally and physically – between borders, those who do not know this kind of lifestyle, consider such things almost unthinkable.
We develop strong and regular rituals
I don’t know whether those who are happy to continually live in the same country have developed the same number of habits that we have, but life abroad, with its additional situations, places and people, is the ideal way to invent new routines, especially when you first arrive in a new country.
It seems like playing
I find that I adopt a different set of rules in a new host country. When I drive, pay in the shops, interact with locals, it becomes rather like learning a new game
We feel different
If we are lucky enough to live in a culture where the differences between us are quite apparent (in dressing, appearance, etc.), we are able to experience diversity firsthand. The good things, along with the bad undeniably enrich our experience.
There are likely to be more interesting things to analyse, and I’d love to hear from you if you have experienced special or out of the ordinary moments in your mobile life. I have tried to highlight the obvious and relate my own personal experience as to how intoxicating this life across borders is.
Happy life abroad!
Claudiaexpat (Claudia Landini)
Translated from Italian by Claudiaexpat