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This Is How You Celebrate a Birthday — #InterNationsTurns10

Last month, we asked you to share the most memorable moments, the beautiful pictures, and the funniest situations of our anniversary events or activities on Instagram, using #InterNationsTurns10. Since the contest kicked off on 8 September, we have received more than 240 pictures, and even after it ended, your submissions kept coming in.

One thing is for certain, you had a lot of fun celebrating this milestone with us! From large gatherings to small activities, all pictures we received showed one specific thing: joy!

We are happy to introduce the winners of our Instagram contest to you, and let them share some of their wisdom.

First Place: “Running” an Expat Life

“Don't pack old-fashioned traditions, open your mind towards a global world!” (@auslanderj)

When Julián moved from Mexico to Spain for a three-months stay, he didn’t plan to be in it for the long haul. However, after those three months were over, he was offered a permanent position and decided to stay. This was 14 years ago and although his expat life has had its ups and downs, a lot has changed in positive ways. “I got married here, have traveled through Europe, became a marathoner — I’ve grown up as a human being and value what’s really important in life.”

Upon his arrival, he joined InterNations because he was looking for other global minds, people with the same experiences and international mindset. Since then, this is his favorite part about the community he found abroad: the feeling of being at home, even if you’re not at home.

As the Consul of the Madrid Running Group, Julián couldn’t resist to celebrate ten years of InterNations exploring the city on foot. “I thought it would be a good idea to run through our favorite city park (El Retiro), next to Puerta de Alcala, and then go and visit some of the most iconic monuments of the city, ending with a refreshing drink in a Mexican restaurant (my heart still beats in Mexican, after all).” It was not just a great way to see the city but also offered a photo opportunity!

His main advice to new expats is to accept people the way they are, and get the most out of every single day: “We've got a lot to learn and much more to give, so go ahead and do it, it will be a life changing experience!”

Second Place: The Local Expert

”As a local, I try to make all expats feel welcome here.” (@indahdona)

Indah sees expat life from the other side: expats who come and go, who struggle with culture shock and finally learn to settle in in Jakarta. This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t know what it’s like, though. Indah has spent some time living abroad in Germany and Switzerland herself.

Upon her return, she has turned her passion for dancing into a way to support the expat community and help people feel comfortable and at home. As the Consul of the Jakarta Dance Group, she organizes a lot of great activities.

“It’s good to add some fun while expats stay in this country,” she says. “I know how difficult it is to move abroad and not know anyone, but the group makes it easy to meet new friends and network with other global minds.”

The picture she submitted was taken at the official anniversary event in Jakarta. Indah’s favorite part was blowing out the candles with everyone else and handing out pieces to the guests. Aside from highlights like a beach wear fashion show, meeting other global minds from her community was what she enjoyed the most.

Her advice to expats arriving in Jakarta is simple: “Enjoy the exciting experience and be prepared for a fun adventure!”

Third Place: Blowing out the Birthday Candles

“Being a people-oriented person, it wasn’t enough for me to only love my nation and only be in one place.” 

When Aelita left Armenia, it was like a dream come true for her. For years she had longed to move abroad, get to know foreign cultures, and meet other global minds. When the opportunity presented itself to her in 2011, she had one week to decide whether she wanted to move to Dubai and leaped at the chance.

“Living abroad made me a better person,” she tells us. “I've become more tolerant, open-minded and brave, independent and successful. It helped me to understand the true meaning of freedom.” While expat life can be challenging sometimes, Aelita would not have it any other way.

Initially, she joined InterNations to make new friends and meet other expats, but today Aelita is the Consul of the Culture Round Table Group and plays her part in helping other expats make connections and feel happy and at home. As she was traveling during the day of the official anniversary, she decided to organize an early birthday celebration.

Although it was last minute, she found other members who helped her organize the party, rushed to the printers to get anniversary badges together, and, taking off their heels, ran back to the venue. While every attendee got a memory photo taken, the candles on the cake (which the talented chef of the Art Lunch Café had kindly provided) were slowly burning down. The group hurriedly gathered around to blow out the candles all together, making for this one-of-a-kind memory.

The party was such a success that Aelita lost track of time and finally hurried to a job interview dressed in her colorful outfit with the anniversary logo still on her top. “Luckily my apologies were accepted, the interview was successful and I got the job. That was a super successful and memorable day.”

While expat life can be difficult at times, she would advise newly arrived and future expats to never say no to a challenge. Sooner or later, the previously strange country will become your home. So, “don’t be afraid when facing culture shock, it’s a temporary experience!”

We would like to thank all of our Ambassadors and Consuls for their enthusiasm, commitment, and hard work, and also our members for sharing this special moment with us.

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