I had a conversation on the weekend with a German friend of mine who had done the expat thing for a number of years and has since returned to Germany. She has itchy feet again and is looking to move abroad. She confided that her reason for doing so is because she doesn’t feel special being a German living in Germany like she did being German living in a foreign country. She asked if that was why I didn’t want to move back to Australia, because I would no longer be special. For me feeling special is not why I am an expat.
I’m an expat because I’ve always wanted to experience living in a different culture to the one I was brought up in. I didn’t want my life in Australia to be the only one I ever experienced. I wanted to expand my experiences of life and being an expat allows me to do that.
Some of those experiences are not so pleasant like trying to find a whole new social group and some of those experiences are challenging like learning German, but they are all experiences I wouldn’t have had if I stayed in Australia. This was really brought home at a party I went to on Saturday night when I realised that my social circle is now full of people from a myriad of countries, backgrounds and ages. From my Spanish friend with American parents who is studying medicine in Germany to my Irish friend who has lived in Germany for over 20 years and has raised three kids here. From those who are doing the expat thing like I am to those who have been living here for 40 years. And those who have always lived in Germany and those who have returned from living abroad. I simply would not have these people in my life, enriching it and educating me if I stayed in Australia. It is something I really treasure.
I love this little expat life of mine with all its new experiences both good and bad. I would encourage anyone who wants to experience a different way of life to try it. You might decide that your new life is not for you and that you preferred the one you had back home, but you will never have the regret of not giving it a go.