We decide when the time is right – #ExpatWisdom – Lauren

Welcome back to another post in the Expat Wisdom series! This months wisdom post is from Lauren of The Expat Chronicle. I really enjoyed reading this one, especially the quote at the end, let me know what you think of it!


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There I was. Standing in the two-car garage of our home in Howell, New Jersey putting the finishing touches on an 18th Century armoire. My furniture restyling business had really taken off. Our garages which once housed both cars were now piled high with new projects to work on. Exciting times!
As I cleaned up my paint and brushes, I could hear neighborhood children playing in their front yards. Birds were chirping. The sun was shining. Life felt kind of…perfect actually. We lived in a wonderful community with tons of friends, great schools for our three kids and family only minutes away.
And despite the fact that our life was exactly where we wanted it to be…we decided one day to leave it all.
It’s always been a dream of my husband and mine to live abroad. However, those dreams took a backseat once we got married and started a family. What was once our passion turned into watching other families achieve theirs on the American TV show House Hunters International.One Year Later Lessons Learned.jpg
Still, we loved our life and had no regrets. We couldn’t imagine doing something insane like moving to another country! Until opportunity came knocking and awoke the dream in us both.
A job position was offered to my husband in beautiful Barcelona. I remember the night he came home and shared the news. Instead of jumping out of my chair with excitement…I cried! (Not my most supportive wife moment, I’ll admit!)
“Why?”, “How?”, “Now?!” These were some of the first words from my mouth. I mean, the timing just wasn’t right – horrible…really! If we put off the relocation another few years we’d be more “ready”, I told myself. After all, timing was everything…
But in the weeks that followed and after my emotions had simmered, I started doing some research. I began learning about the city we could call home – the people, the culture, schooling, holidays, traditions, food. I went from being terrified of the idea to falling in love with it.
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One day I finally said to Tony, “We have an awesome life here. It couldn’t be better…and I want it to always feel that way. If we don’t move abroad, we may end up resenting things here that we truly love.” I felt a lump in my throat after the words came out. But in my heart, I knew I was right.
The right timing. People will spend their whole lives waiting for it. Making sure all the pieces of their puzzle align. But as they wait, the years pass and eventually the opportunity is lost. We couldn’t let that happen.
So our house went on the market (sold in ONE week!). We sat our children down and told them our plan to move abroad. You can read about that experience and how we approached such a sensitive topic in Expat Kids: Just Along for the Ride http://theexpatchronicle.net/along-for-the-ride/ We packed away our beloved treasures, most of which could not come overseas with us.
Those weeks of preparation were some of the scariest and most exciting of my life. Like inching your way up to the top of a steep roller coaster unable to see the thrilling drop below. What if we hated it? What if the kids did not adjust well? How about the language?!
So many concerns and questions swirling – but still, we didn’t turn back. And after 18 months of living in Barcelona, my life will never be the same. This experience has changed me; it’s changed us all. Had we waited for the perfect time when it made total sense for us to move, we would still be waiting…
Sure, sometimes I still have those days when I wonder if leaving it all behind was worth it. We miss having a backyard, a fireplace, homemade blueberry crumble and American football. We miss good friends and of course our beloved family.
But then I watch my seven year old proudly point on a map to all the different countries where his school friends come from; children he would have otherwise never known. I laugh as my two year old happily plays tag with our doorman, who speaks no English other than the word “bye”. I marvel at how far my own language skills have sharpened as a result of living in Spain, even if I still have a long way to go!
And I think about so many new adventures! In a short 18 months here, we’ve visited many medieval villages in Spain and major European cities like Vienna, London, Prague, Paris and Lake Como.
Yes we left so much behind, as all expats have to. But we’ve also gained more in return than we could ever put a value on. The timing was not perfect for us. We would have never chosen to leave when we did. But our wonderful life back home in the United States is waiting for us – when we’re ready to go back to it.
Afterall, “Ships are safest when in port – but that’s simply not what they’re built for…”

What did you think of this post? I think Lauren had some really great advice for us! If you have an expat story you would like to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at LittleMissExpatBlog@gmail.com
See you next week!
Little Miss Expat

The different ‘English-es’ we speak

“Language is the road map of culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” – Rita Mae Brown

A few weeks ago I was assigned some reading homework for my English class, and I found myself dying to write about it here! It was a piece called “Mother Tongue” written by Amy Tan, and I found my brain going crazy making all these connections… because I could relate SO MUCH to this piece of writing, as I’m sure any other expat can.

This passage highlighted how different people from various cultures use the English language in their own ways. In the narrative, Amy Tan described the way her mother spoke a ‘broken’ English and gave many examples of how sometimes this held her back as people didn’t take her as seriously. She highlighted a really important issue for me, does the way we speak hold us back?

As an expat, I hear people with different accents, speaking in different languages, and different in dialects every day, but I’d never really thought about what this means to them. Does the way we speak ever hold us back and is it an indicator of who we really are? When I first moved to Dubai, a lot of people commented on how ‘posh’ my British accent was. I’d grown up in London my whole life, so I had never known anything different, I thought that the way I spoke was completely normal. However, in my first international school, I became so self-conscious of my accent, that I even looked forward to my language classes, because I knew that was a time where I didn’t have to speak with my ‘accent’.

But this was not a one-way street. Joining an international school gave me the opportunity to meet people from many different parts of the world, and to hear the way they talked. I distinctly remember in my first school in Dubai we were put into ‘sets’ based on ability and most of the children in the highest set for English, were the English kids, the ones who spoke English in what seemed the ‘perfect way’. There are so many examples of this: I recently heard the story of a friend who’s originally from Taiwan, but moved to school in America for a year, and was not allowed to take the AP English class, because the teacher didn’t think she could speak ‘real English’ even though she was one of the highest scoring students in her school on the AP exam.

Before putting all these pieces together, I had never really thought of language as another barrier we have to overcome, or as another means of discrimination. Just because someone doesn’t speak the same way as you, what deems them less than you?

Our world is becoming increasingly global and if we still have these old ideas stuck in our heads that there’s only one ‘perfect’ way to speak and one perfect ‘dialect’ then we’re going to be holding a lot of deserving people back.

We’re all from different places, and perhaps English is not our first language, but the way we speak it and our own variations are what makes us unique. The subtle differences we share make the world interesting. So next time you hear someone speaking a different ‘English’ from you, don’t be so quick to judge, because we all speak in different ‘English-es’.

Have you ever experienced something like this? What are your thoughts on this subject? Let me know in the comments!

Little Miss Expat

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Multiple Moves – #ExpatWisdom – Elina

Hi everyone! Welcome back to another post in the Expat Wisdom series! This week I’m really excited to share the expat story of Elina (@justsoelina), which is quite similar to my own. Her experiences are raw and real, and I think her advice could be very useful for any other teenagers going through a move. Here’s a piece that she wrote for the Expat Wisdom project, I hope you enjoy it!

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New Town Funk

I may not be an expat (though maybe one day, you never know!) but I do know what it’s like to move away from your home town and deal with homesickness. I recently moved 3,500 + km from the only place I had ever known to the other end of Australia. It was the scariest, happiest, and overwhelming and definitely the most forefeeling thing I have ever done.

But before we get into that lets back track a bit. I am now almost 16 and up until May of this year I had grown up in small country towns in north east, Victoria. I had moved many times before that, but all had been within an hour radius of each other. I loved growing up in small country towns and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. But I had always wanted to move somewhere, bigger and different.

So when the opportunity arrived for me to do just that I jumped on it. I was so excited for the new adventure my Mum and I were about to embark on. I counted down the months, weeks and days until the day finally came that we left. I was so excited to leave that I didn’t really think much about how I was going to miss my home town and of course the people I was leaving behind. That is until the moment I said goodbye to my best friend and I actually left. Needless to say the first hour or so of the trip I was a total mess. And then the following days of our road trip I felt really strange and super anxious.

But after a while the excitement built up again and I couldn’t wait to get to my new home! The day FINALLY arrived that I made it to the place I would now call home. I was so happy and excited I thought I might burst. But I also had this overwhelming feeling as everything was so new and daunting. As everything around me seemed ginormous! The shopping centres, the city area, the schools etc. You name it, it scared me!

I had gone from this massive high, to a really bad low. I was missing my friends and the familiarity of my old town. And of course I felt awful for feeling this was because It was something I had wanted for years.

After a few days I started to settle into my new house, We started to explore our new town, spent time with our family and got to know some of our neighbours. Slowly my funk started to fade and I loved every moment of my new life.

Fast forward 4 months, I love my new home and everything feels more familiar and less daunting now.

The top things that helped me get out of the new town funk where:

  1. Make my new room my room: This was such an important thing for me as my bedroom is my safe space/chill zone. So by adding my own touches to it, helped to make it feel homier.
  2. Walk the dogs on a new track each day: When we first moved I was too scared to go off on my own as I was certain I’d get lost. But from walking my dogs in a new area each day, everything became more familiar. Now I know our area like the back of my hand, I may not be able to remember the street names (real life dory right here haha) But I am no longer at risk of getting lost anymore yay!
  3. Face Time my friends: This was a complete life saver for the homesickness. As I knew that even though there may be distance between us, We still had each other’s back.
  4. Explore Your New Town: Again things don’t seem so scary or daunting fi they are familiar. Go for a drive with your fam and take the time to explore your new town and maybe even do a few of the touristy things available.

I hope this post was able to help anyone dealing with the New Town Funk!

Feel free to check out my blog justsoelina.com

Or my Instagram @justsoelina

JustSoElina xx

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I want to hear your stories! – Special Announcement – THE #ExpatWisdom PROJECT

How many of you have ever been through something and wished that you had someone beside you to help? Ever wished you had a community where you could talk about your experiences, share your advice, and help others going through what you’ve been through?

That’s how I felt when I first became an expatriate, I really wished I knew someone who had done this all before and someone who could tell me that everything was going to get better. That’s why I created this blog, I wanted to be that person for other expats and teenagers, I wanted to share my experiences in order to help others.

It’s been a little over a year since I started this blog, and the community we’ve created has grown to become something beautiful! I write about my experiences and try and share my advice, and you guys share your stories and your advice in return. It makes me so happy whenever I think of the relationship I have with you guys, and the internet friends I’ve made from this blog. That’s why I wanted to expand this into something larger that can reach more people, I wanted to build a larger community.

If you’ve been following my Instagram (@Little.Miss.Expat) you will have seen that I’ve been hinting at a big project that I’ve been working on for a while, and this is it. The #ExpatWisdom Project.

I wanted to create an online space where people can write about a life experience that impacted them, and share their advice with others from all across the world. An online community where we can reach people from all seven continents, and hear about each others own unique experiences and how we made it through them. It’s called the #ExpatWisdom Project, and it’s going to be amazing!

You don’t need to be an expat or a blogger to be a part of this community! I want to hear about YOUR experiences, whatever they may be (however a lot of them will be about expats)!

If YOU want to be a part of this project:

  1. Go to this page, or fill out the form at the end of this post which gives me your contact information and an idea of what you want to write about.
  2. We’ll get to know each other and I’ll ask you to write a bit about your experience and we’ll collaborate in a post.

Ways YOU can get involved!

  • Post about this initiative on your social media using the #ExpatWisdom. As this is a community and we want to share it with as many people as possible!
  • Fill out the form or contact me at littlemissexpatblog@gmail.com to be featured or at least start the conversation about being a part of this project!
  • Share this page with someone who may have something to share or want to be a part of this, we want to hear from everyone!
  • And stay tuned on this site for the first  #ExpatWisdom post!

I am so excited to be launching this project and to able to create this global community! But I do need your help, share this post or the #ExpatWisdom online, so that we can grow this community and share as many experiences as possible! I really hope that you all consider being a part of this community, and sharing an experience and your advice. The first Expat Wisdom post will go live next week from a very special writer, so stay tuned for that!

You can find all the information about this project here

I can’t wait to see the amazing things we do with this project!

Little Miss Expat

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Where is home?

Hi Everyone!

I have finally finished school for the summer, and I am so so happy! Every summer I travel back to London, to spend the summer holidays here, and this year was no different. I’ve been in London for around 3 days now, and it has been amazing. Usually, I don’t hold high hopes for the summer weather in London, but it has been sunny and warm the whole time I’ve been here so far (but I don’t want to jinx it).

I came back to London in Spring Break as well, and that’s when this blog post idea popped into my head. It’s kind of weird coming back to this place where I spent 12 years of my life; seeing how much everything has changed, and how much I’ve changed since I lived here. It’s funny that when I’m in Dubai I call London home, and when I’m in London I call Dubai home because I don’t really know which one it is.

London still holds all these memories for me, but I can not imagine myself living here anymore, and I love the life I have in Dubai. So which one is my home? When I’m feeling lonely or I’m having a bad day in Dubai I wish I could be back home in London. But when I’m in London and it’s cold and rainy I wish I could be back home in Dubai. Sometimes I feel like my definition of home just changes depending on my mood.

Perhaps a better way to answer this question is to unpack the word home. I’m sure we’ve all heard that cliché saying ‘the home is where the heart is’ but when you think about it, it’s true. The reason why sometimes I feel like I want to go back home to London is because, that’s my safe place and I have fond memories of it, my heart wants to be there when I’m feeling certain emotions such as sadness and loneliness. But, on the other hand, sometimes my heart wants to be in Dubai when I’m ready for an adventure and some sun.

This is totally okay, it’s kind of like the concept of Horcruxes in Harry Potter, how you can split your soul into pieces and leave them in different places, but it’s less gruesome. As an expat, or a third culture kid, my heart is all over the place, different places in the world mean different things to me. And that is okay. You don’t have to fit into one specific box, you don’t need to have just one home. I’ll be the first to admit, the place I call home changes all the time, but it’s never just one place. My home will always be made up from different places.

What are your home’s, and where do you feel like you’re from? I hope this post was interesting for you, and that some of you can relate. Let me know in the comments!

Little Miss Expat

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The Expat ‘Would You Rather’

Hi Everyone!

This week I have a little surprise for you, I have teamed up with Little Miss Honey (find her blog here) to create a really fun and entertaining post for you guys!

When we first talked about a collab, I was unsure what to do, as I didn’t want to do something boring that you could find anywhere. I finally decided on an ‘expat would you rather.’ In this post, you will see several ‘would you rather’ questions, directed at expats, answered by both Little Miss Honey and me. I’ll admit, some of these questions were really challenging, but we did our best to answer them all for you. Enjoy!

Would you rather… Never be an expat, or move to a new place every year?

Little Miss Honey: Never be an expat, moving every year can be really stressful especially for my family, so I’d rather stay put. 

Little Miss Expat: Never be an expat, I’d have to agree, while being an expat is amazing, it would be hard to pack up and move every year. 

Would you rather… Not be able to meet anyone new, or not remember anyone old?

Little Miss Honey: Not being able to meet anyone new, I don’t want people I know to feel bad that I don’t remember them. 

Little Miss Expat: Not being able to meet anyone new, I wouldn’t want to forget important people in my life.

Would you rather… Move somewhere really hot, or cold?

Little Miss Honey: Move somewhere really hot, actually I did before, as I lived in Saudi Arabia.

Little Miss Expat: Well I already live in Dubai, which is super hot. But I wouldn’t want to move anywhere very cold, I definitely prefer the heat. 

Would you rather… Move somewhere as a student in school, or as an adult with a job?

Little Miss Honey: Move somewhere as a student, I always wanted to study in Canada when I was younger but was never able to do so. 

Little Miss Expat: I think as a student, It’s easier to fit in and make new friends when you see them every day at school. And I think that moving is easier when you’re younger as you can adapt more. 

Would you rather… Move to a city or a rural area?

Little Miss Honey: Definitely a city, I am a true-blue city girl. 

Little Miss Expat: I would love to live in a rural area, but I don’t think I could do it forever. So I would go for the city, as there’s always something to do there.

Would you rather… Be an expat as a kid or an adult?

Little Miss Honey: Either way is fine by me.

Little Miss Expat: That’s a hard one, I feel like as an adult I would be able to do things my way, but I think I would move as a kid because I would have my family and parents to support me and help me out. 

Would you rather… Be an expat in an English speaking country or a non-English speaking country?

Little Miss Honey: I would love to fantasize about living in a non-English speaking country but truthfully it would be better to move to an English speaking country. 

Little Miss Expat: It would definitely be easier to move to an English speaking country, as I would find it too confusing to learn a new language, and have that barrier. 

Would you rather… Not be able to talk to anyone you meet, or hear anything they say?

Little Miss Honey: The first one.

Little Miss Expat: I think the first one, at least I could work around it. I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, by not listening to what they say. 

Would you rather… Not be able to make new friends, or see any old ones?

Little Miss Honey: Definitely the first one.

Little Miss Expat: That’s really hard, but the first choice. I wouldn’t want to forget my old friends, even though it would be hard not to have any new ones. 

Would you rather… Not be able to experience the culture of your new home, or completely forget the culture of your last home?

Little Miss Honey: The latter, always look back to where you came from.

Little Miss Expat: I’d agree, I wouldn’t want to forget my culture, but it would still be hard to live somewhere and not experience any of the culture. 

I hope you guys enjoyed this kind of post, let me know if you want to see more like this! It was just a little bit of fun, be sure to let me know your answers to the questions in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Little Miss Expat

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Lisbon Photo Diary

Hi Guys,

Welcome to the Lisbon Photo Diary!

Over Summer I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Lisbon for a few days. It was really amazing and so different from any European city I’ve ever been to. There are a tonne of unique things to do in Lisbon, and I’m going to try and share them all with you in this post!

Firstly, we landed in Lisbon early in the morning and headed to the Time Out Market. I had read about this online, and I thought it would be a good place to start and get some food.
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After getting a bite at the market, we headed outside and were met by a group of tour guides. Except… these tours were tuk-tuk tours. So unusual to any typical tourist-traps, we decided to try a tuk-tuk tour, as I mean it’s not something you see every day.

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After cruising around Lisbon in a tuk-tuk for a while, I started to get a feel for the place. One of my favorite things about the city was the small, quirky streets. Filled with people and cobbled stones, the whole city was bursting with culture.

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Lisbon is a city of art. One of my favorite things were the walls, every building was covered in ornate tiles, from top to bottom. There were also amazing street art murals on the side of buildings.

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As we drove up the winding, narrow streets of Lisbon, we stopped at many viewing points. The views were breathtaking, as you turned a corner the city opened up beneath you.

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At the top of a viewing point, we stopped for some fresh lemonade, fruit, and custard tarts! Custard tarts or pastel de nata are a Portuguese specialty and they are DELICIOUS.

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With the history, culture, and hidden surprises of Lisbon, we continued to have an amazing trip!

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I hope you guys enjoyed reading about my trip to Lisbon! Have you ever been? What’s your favorite city that you’ve traveled to?

Let me know if you guys enjoyed this kind of post by leaving me a comment!

Little Miss Expat

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