Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Life beyond the expat bubble

We came across this great photography blog by Brandon Hoover that inspired this post about breaking the “expat mould”. As seasoned expats, we only know too well about hanging out with other expats in the same bars every Friday night and visiting the same restaurants week-in, week-out.

Moving away familiar expat communities to go venturing off the beaten path is a powerful feeling. It allows expats to fully experience and immerse themselves within the local culture and surroundings. Anyone who’s read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love will understand and resonate with the notion of the expat life as active choices and not just living within your comfort zone but in a different country. Often expats find many pleasant surprises that adds to their overall experiences abroad. Our previous guest bloggers, Rebecca Self and Chelsea Christensen are great examples of people who have made that choice to embark upon that journey of self-discovery.

We’d love to hear about your stories of when you experienced life beyond the expat bubble. Leave us a comment below.


  1. Amsterdam is a town where 'natives' are competent English speakers and want to speak English. That makes Dutch language learning very difficult. It pushes all your insecurity buttons.
    Commitment, persistence, and a vision for what you gain by learning the new language is key for stepping outside of the secure language bubble and putting it all on the line.

  2. It's really easy to try and lean on the expat community in your new country. I should know as this is the fourth country I've lived in. I think it's more than the language barrier that makes you feel l'autre. I'm a Kiwi who moved to the UK after falling in love with an Englishman in Paris in 2007. I've been here with my three kids for over two years now, and even though I speak English (obviously!), and look English, I still really don't fit in. It's the cultural references you don't pick up, even trivial things like the weather and seasons, local traditions, and humour. I write about my experiences on my expat blog http://www.vegemitevix.com and will soon be releasing a book based on my story. One of the most popular blog posts that I've written highlighted how easy it is to feel 'homeless' when you remove yourself from your history and background. http://www.vegemitevix.com/2010/03/who-are-you/

  3. Hi Vicki,

    Thanks for sharing that with us. It's true that even for expats who relocate regularly that the local language and cultural differences are often the biggest barriers expats face in their new countries.

    We'll be on the look out for your book. When will it be released?

  4. My husband and I moved to Prague at the end of 2001 from the United States because we wanted an opportunity to live in Europe. We found jobs once we got there and because we didn't have a company sponsoring us, we had to jump into the deep end of the pool with language, finding apartments and whole slew of other things. We also chose to live in a non-expat popular neighborhood and made an effort to speak Czech. This provided us a different experience than some of our other expat friends who had a lot already set up when they arrived and felt like they didn't need to learn the local language.

  5. I've recently joined an International Club. The membership is mainly Germans who are looking for expat friends, and many of them have lived abroad themselves before so they can relate to the expat life. Once my German is better, I plan to take a rock climbing course and join a hiking club to meet Germans with similar interests.


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