Your Way to a Better Expat Life Is as Easy as Watching Our New Video Series!
We are thrilled to announce our new video series: “Expat Tips from a Friend”! Starting a new life abroad, whether it’s your first or fifth time, comes with many challenges that are difficult to face alone. Luckily, here at InterNations, there are many expats just like you with lots of advice to share. Our new video series features one expat expert in particular, Lauren, who will share her personal tips for making expat life a great experience twice a month.
Meet Our Expat Tips from a Friend Host!
You’re probably wondering who exactly is offering you expat tips and here I am to share a bit about my journey. I’m originally from Ohio but my American family is a blend of different cultures — Polish, Slovakian, Italian, and Irish, to be exact!
I first experienced another culture at seven years old when the Italian side of my family took a trip to visit distant relatives in Italy. Even as young as I was, I could feel the energy of the country: the bustling along the cobblestoned streets, the gelato in every color, crumbling historic architecture, and the hot sun on my face. Being able to see where I came from beyond the United States and meeting relatives who didn’t speak my language but communicated in hugs and overwhelming servings of pasta was incredibly liberating — and shaped my worldview from there.
I stayed in Ohio through my teen years and spent my days training as a competitive horseback rider. The University of Georgia had an incredible equestrian team, so I found myself down south, competing and studying journalism and film for my degree. When the opportunity for a summer study in France writing film reviews at the Cannes Film Festival arose, I jumped at the chance and then chose to backpack around Europe for six weeks once my program concluded. After that summer, I was officially hooked on a more international way of life.
(Attempting to avoid farmers’ fields on an ‘outride’ in Hagendorn, Switzerland. I usually rode the horses in an arena, so getting to gallop through forests, streams, and meadows in the Swiss countryside was one of my most exhilarating rewards!)
Immediately upon graduation, I moved to Switzerland to work on a horse farm. The decision was a gut instinct, and I remember preparing for the move in a bit of a fog. I threw myself into graduation and busied my brain with the menial tasks of relocation, so I wouldn’t have a moment to stop and re-consider my decision to move somewhere alone, sight unseen. In a tiny village outside Zug I worked on a family-run farm, training horses and looking after the owners’ children. It was a job opportunity that was supposed to last six months, but I stayed for a year.
Being in an unfamiliar culture invigorated me as much as it frustrated me. I won’t lie, there were many nights spent alone with only the sounds of tinkling sheep bells to keep me company. The language was a challenge; finding friends around my age off the farm was even harder. But I made it — and ended up having one of the most incredible experiences of my life with lifelong friends to prove it.
(Exploring my seaside home on Manly Beach in New South Wales, Australia. After growing up in land-locked Ohio, I couldn’t get enough of this beach!)
From there, I headed off to Australia, which was one of the more daring decisions I’ve made in my life. I showed up with a one-way ticket and little savings and started working at a hotel directly off the beach in Manly, New South Wales. I experienced the ultimate beach lifestyle, with wild cockatoos flying into my open window and stealing my bread and a flat directly on a cliff over the sea, waves so loud I needed to use headphones to watch TV. Spiders, mysterious bug-bites and raging sunburns replaced language as my new challenges!
I returned back to the United States, to Boston this time, to pursue a master’s degree in Intercultural Relations. I thought being surrounded by international studies and students would cure my thirst for life as an expat, but it only calmed it a little. I helped international students settle in to university life by hosting orientation programs and assisting them throughout the year with visa and work-study options.
In the meantime, I started to attend InterNations events in Boston and was reinvigorated to find my next location. In the end, it led me directly to InterNations HQ in Munich, Germany, to work as a Community Manager on the Events Team. I’ve been here for two years now, and it’s certainly been an eye-opening experience to support expats, while being one myself! Living in Europe has allowed me to travel to new countries more easily than in the United States, and my ”country count” is now up to 31 — I hit 30 directly after my 30th birthday and hope to reach 40-by-40! I’ve learned along the way that it’s not just travel, but actually living in a new place that inspires me the most. Being outside my comfort zone, settling into a new culture, learning and growing to appreciate new customs is something I will never want to stop taking part in. Life as an expat certainly has its unique challenges, but I wouldn’t take back a second!
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Do you have a question for Lauren? Just comment below any video of the series!