Thursday, May 11, 2017


My expat adventure began almost 5 years ago when I moved from the lethargic Italian suburbs to the dynamic, noisy and chaotic Chinese city which became our second home. 

I had never lived abroad before, but I had the chance to know some expats and I was always intrigued by their stories, fascinated by their open-minded attitudes. I was an avid reader of expat stories and every time, I felt like my life in the slow, peaceful Italian countryside fit me snugly.

Finally, I became an expat myself and made many friends among people who lived abroad. I really do love expats (I even wrote a novel about them!). They face life in a different way. How exactly? Why are they different? Let me explain my point of view:

1) They make friends easily:

Leaving behind your family, your friends and the place where you were born can make you feel lonely. Expats know they have to make friends quickly in order to survive: they must find a tribe, a kind of family substitute to rely on. This is why they usually aren’t shy: they know how to break the ice, they become experts in the art of small talks, they tend to be less leery and more open.

2) They learn how to face problems courageously: 

When you live abroad, in a country where people speak another language, have different habits, sometimes also think in a different way, even the smallest thing can be scary. Daily life’s trivia as going to the hairdresser, talking with you kids’ teachers, opening a bank account may be scattered with obstacles and you need a jolt of courage to accomplish them. This is why expats are usually very brave people: they learn to do things even when they don’t feel at ease doing them. They know how to step out of their comfort zone - actually they live outside it almost every day!

3) They always know how to figure it out:

Moving in another country is not a simple matter: you have to complete procedures, get visas, contact relocation companies, enroll children in a new school, find a house that suits you. Most of the times you must do these things remotely, relying only on the internet - and your instinct! This is why expats usually can handle themselves in many different situations without getting lost along the way.

4) They always complain about something, but at the same time, they learn to respect other cultures:

They complain? Yes, they do! About food, about traffic, about certain attitude of locals, about weather, about… whatever! But at the same time, they learn to understand other cultures, they develop what experts call “cultural intelligence” and are able to relate with people from all over the world. 

5) They are direct and less formal: 

When it comes to writing an email, I’m always surprised how easy it is to communicate with expats. In Italy, for instance, when we write letters we really like to address people with their qualification and use polite set phrases to sound kind and respectful. But when you write in English… it’s all so simple! You start your letter with “Hi!” and that’s all!

6) They are creative:

Living abroad forces you to reinvent many aspects of your life. If you are the spouse, you probably need to create a new, portable career. This is why many expats devote themselves to their passions: they become painters, writers, bloggers. They create jewels, dresses, gadgets. If they come up with a new idea, they’ll probably be successful.

And you? Do you also think expats are peculiar people? Let me know in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment