Expat life is no holiday, but if you're doing it right there are a mountain of positive things to get out of living overseas. Here are 5 things I love about my expat life.
1. I Have a New Comfort Zone
|My comfort zone disappearing on the horizon|
2. Expat Life is Enriching
I love that so many new things came into my life when I became an expat: people, food, music,
3. Expat Life is a Cultural Adventure
My husband was raised in a different culture to me. He grew up with different traditions and customs, he listened to music that is unfamiliar to me, he celebrated holidays I had never heard of before I moved here in 2000, he went to school in a system that I have no first hand knowledge of. I watched TV programs that he never saw, my British education had a different emphasis than his Dutch schooling, I ate cereal each morning for breakfast as he tucked into his hagelslag. Life was very different for us as children and as a couple now we try to find a middle way through both our cultures and pass the best of British and the best of Dutch to our three sons.
4. Expat Life Gives Me the Best of Two Worlds
Dutch Sinterklaas and British Christmas. I live my life in two languages, in Dutch and English. I eat ginger nuts and speculaaskoekjes. I can whip up (or mash up) a stamppot at the drop of a hat or prepare an English trifle. I can get off the telephone having spoken to my dad in English and switch to Dutch to talk to my father-in-law. I appreciate a good Dutch Queen's Day celebration (soon to be King's Day) and could watch the British Queen's Jubilee celebrations with a sense of pride. There are many things that were no part of my life fourteen years ago which now make up my expat world - but I still get to keep many of the things that have been part of my life since childhood. I truly have the best of both worlds.
5. Expat Life Makes me Appreciate my Roots
Most of the people I have contact with on a daily basis are Dutch. I stand out like a sore thumb, even though I can communicate with them in (my imperfect) Dutch. There have been times when I have struggled with this, but that is no longer the case. The longer I live away from Britain, the more I understand what characteristics, habits and behaviour makes me British, and why I can never wholly blend in with the Dutch - even if you ignore the fact that most Dutch people tower over me. I have actually grown to be very proud of my British roots, and the Dutch love hearing about how things are done in Britain compared to their home country. I'm the only British expat living in my street. As far as I know I'm the only British parent at my son's school. Being British makes me stick out from the crowd, and I have grown to love that.