While every expat lives an entirely individual life, experiencing different things depending on who they are and where they decide to go, expat life is unique and becomes a defining feature of those who decide to up sticks and start a new life somewhere else on the planet. Because of this, many expats will soon find that their experiences are, in many ways, similar to their other expat friends. They may even realize that they are more connected to this new community of people than some of the people they know from back home. So what creates this feeling? What are expats made of?
Whether or not they would class themselves as entrepreneurs, most expats hold at least a bit of entrepreneurialism in them. They do have to start a whole new life in a new country, after all! From finding a new home, and possibly even a new employer, to creating a new community of friends after arrival, expats have to largely start afresh when they move abroad.
And while it may be easier for expats who move to live with a partner, even they will have to learn to settle in a new land, and perhaps even have to find new friends other than their partner’s circle. Most expats will have developed a problem-solving spirit and attitude to life that allows them to move forward despite the many set-backs they face over time.
It is hardly surprising that most expats have an open mind. They move to a new place and often learn about the new culture they have arrived in. Many take this opportunity to learn a new language or to take part in new activities they had not encountered in their home country.
On top of having an open mind, many expats also have what could be described as an open spirit. Whether they moved for love or just to live in their dream country, expats are willing to experience a different life and to face the challenges ahead of them. They are prepared to approach new people and often quickly learn lots about their new place to call home.
With friends back home and friendships in their new country, expats have an international network of friends to visit and keep in touch with over the years. Given that many expats are friends with other expats, even their new local network may be international in itself. This makes them even more open minded and provides them with many opportunities. Be it a place to stay when they travel abroad or the chance to learn about a new culture, expats reap the benefits of their international life through their ever-growing community of friends.
Moving to a new country means that you will inevitably bring things with you to remind you of home. Alongside an expat you will likely find little trinkets or collections of photos to remember their home — or even to remember the places they lived before!
Visit an expat household and you could be faced with a number of things that are slightly different to a “regular” household: bilingual children, various never before seen ingredients in the kitchen, or perhaps the minimalist expat will instead stun you just with their stories of times abroad. Any expat will have a myriad of interesting anecdotes just waiting to be stumbled upon in conversation.
The expat spirit often inevitably leads to the form of wanderlust that leaves you longing to move to the next country. For this reason, expats are often not far from their suitcase and passport, ready and waiting for their next international opportunity to arise. If you talk to an expat, you may eventually end up on the topic of their next dream location. And even if they aren’t planning on a permanent move in the near future, they will likely have travel plans. The need to discover ever more locations and cultures is prevalent among them.
Stephanie Crosby is from the South of England and studies languages at the University of Bath. She has previously lived in Italy and is now living in Munich, completing an internship at InterNations in the Content and Communications Department.