Eloquent Words: Realities of Being an Ex-Expat

My mom is so good at finding these exceedingly accurate, not to mention moving, articles about expat life. You may remember my post on “trailing spouses” and being an expat housewife, and now I bring you another article that is sure to strike a chord with my fellow expats, ex-expats, or anyone that has moved during their life!

Lisa + World puts the realities of being an expat in the “real world” in such an honest light – each of the items on the list really hit home for me (I’m sure my parents and sister would say the same).

The travelin’ Simpson clan (in Thailand – Christmas 2006, I believe?)


Having grown up as an “expat brat” and having enjoyed the international stints (probably more so in retrospect than as a surly teenager), I knew that this was something I wanted to continue in my “grown up” life. To that end, when Barr and I got married (heck, even when we dated) we discussed over and over how much we both wanted to live abroad, especially once we had children – exposing ourselves as well as any offspring that we should have (inshallah) to different cultures, languages, cities and people is central to our little family. That being said, living an expat life is not without its hurdles – and that is what I feel Lisa’s post puts so eloquently: we expats want that lifestyle, and yet you still wax nostalgic for your home country (whatever that means!), being close to family, and truly putting down roots in one place. I’ll be the first to admit that a part of me is always jealous of those who are still best friends with their kindergarten best friend or childhood next door neighbor – that is something of which I have very little concept (even Barr, who is so close to his high school friends – that’s another special bond that I lack). Home is such a transient place to me, but I feel blessed to continue my journey as an expat, and also find someone like Lisa who so concisely articulates what being an ex-expat is like.

Barr and I exploring the world (in this instance, Hong Kong)

Speaking of “home”, I’m off to another one of my homes this weekend – bon voyage Dubai and bonjour Houston (followed by Los Angeles and Nashville)! I couldn’t be more excited to see my parents, grandmother, fur baby, and friends – and of course celebrate two dear, loving and amazing friends from college (one wedding and one bachelorette/hen party). Until next time…

My friend, Elise (the bride to be) and me

My friend, Elise (the bride to be) and me

The other bride to be and I (dont worry Sas - there are more old school pics where this came from!)

The other bride to be and I (dont worry Sas – there are more old school pics where this came from!)


9 responses to “Eloquent Words: Realities of Being an Ex-Expat

  1. I did not grow up in an expat family but I have been in and out of the country just as much (only for a holiday though). I do love to see the world and I know how big and wonderful it is however, I probably wouldn’t change my life with an expat as a child because I did have a wonderful childhood surrounded by loving families and friends that I can truly rely on. I have been living in Dubai for about 7 years now but to be very honest, I only have 1 true friend that I’d trust my life with. I probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy being in an expat family as a child as I don’t trust so easily and as a form of self-preservation I’d probably think that all the people who I will meet are just as replaceable as the place which I call home at that moment – to save myself from being hurt when the moment to leave comes.

    You’re probably right, nobody will probably understand you better than someone who grew up in an expat family as well. This is a really good article though, a great eye-opener for me for what the kids in Dubai are probably going through. 🙂

    By the way, you have a very beautiful family. Your sister looks like your father and you look like your mother. 🙂

    • It’s such an interesting paradox, isnt it? I like your use of the term “self preservation” because it truly is just that – I know exactly what you mean. It’s tough because you want to travel and expose yourself to all of this change, but it is that same travel and change that makes making/keeping friends so challenging (not to mention the trials of being so far away from family). So wise, Noemi! 🙂 Thank you for your thoughtful and introspective comment – I love it!

  2. Have some cheap breakfast tacos and a decent margarita for me! (Gosh I miss those!). 🙂

  3. There’s more than one “Sas”?! Ha! Kindred spirits 🙂
    I love this post because living abroad as a family is something Blake and I want to do. And there are definitely hurdles to living abroad- but I think it’s something everyone should do! Props to you and Barr for moving together across the globe! *sorority snaps*

    • Bahahah love the use of sorority snaps – 100% applicable in this case! And you totally get what I mean with your travels to Rome – it’s all worth it, but it’s tough.

  4. Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s an almost impossible feeling to verbalise but since writing my article I have been so encouraged by the number of people who feel the same way. It’s made me realise that my emotions are normal! Ultimately I think all we can do is just keep enjoying life, no matter where we are 🙂

    • I cant tell you how spot on everything you wrote felt and is! Being an ex-expat (or just an expat) is such a fine balance, and I was also pleased to find that others have felt the same emotions as well. Awesome post 🙂

  5. Great articles by Lisa, and great blogpost by you:)
    Personally, I grew up in a very small village, in which my parents still live, and even though I love traveling, I’ll easily admit that being able to return home once in a while is such a privilege. I couldn’t imagine settling down there myself, but having this static place in an otherwise very dynamic life is something I’ve really learnt to appreciate:)