Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Making Expat Life More Interesting

At the end of March, I will have been living here in England for four years. Sometimes it feels like I just arrived, and sometimes I wonder where the time has gone :-) I’m asked by friends from time to time what it’s like to live this expat life and they imagine that it's like being on vacation everyday. I give them what I call a 50/50 answer. I tell them that half of the time, it’s an adventure to make a life elsewhere and I relish it. I still get wide-eyed about new things I discover. And the other half of the time I’ll say honestly that it can get lonely and I have the uneasy feeling of being an outsider. However, I enjoy this in-between space that I inhabit :-) I get to be a part of two places and that is a blessing. But I think that in many ways this is how life is. Life is multi-layered and that’s the fascination in it all. Some days it's good, some days it's not so good. Frankly, I’m just living my life like anyone anywhere would do. I’m just enjoying wherever this journey is taking me in my life and I’m taking lots of pictures to share it with you all! :-)

The good news is that I’m getting rather settled in these days. From time to time I come across groups that help foster a sense of community for expats like myself and I enjoy looking at what they have to offer. I’m always interested in ways to more thoroughly enjoy my experiences here :-) So when I was invited to join the InterNations community, I was really intrigued.

Here's a link to the London group "InterNations Expat Community London" . I enjoy sharing interesting info like this :)



First of all, I love that its tag line reads “the network for expatriates and global minds”. This to me is great because it is so inclusive and does make for a feeling of belonging. I’m very excited about the possibilities! :-)

Here’s a bit of information about InterNations for my fellow expats out there or anyone who is interested in learning more about this community. InterNations is a social network, started in September 2007, for expatriates and has a varied membership of over 140,000 in over 230 cities worldwide. The membership includes people from many walks of life. The site is a German startup and was awarded the Land der Ideen award, which means "land of ideas", by the German government and the Federation of German Industries for their business concept in creating a web-based solution to the challenges of the expat life.

What I really love about InterNations is the opportunity for members to meet in real life at monthly events. This is so crucial I think, because as I said before, even though it’s really wonderful to have this experience, it can be lonely at times. So having a chance to meet with others who are in the similar situation would be ideal. Expatriates and their families can connect with others and receive advice on the expat life in various countries. Also there’s additional information and resources in the InterNations city guides.

Membership is by invitation only, so I was very flattered to be asked to join the community. If anyone is interested in joining, you can request your personal invitation at the site. It just sounds like a really cool site to me. I look forward to exploring what the network has to offer. Very soon my answer to the expat question may change from 50/50 to 75/25! Wish me luck! :-)

8 comments:

Mike Golch said...

does it count when you an Ohioan living in a different state? if so that I was an expat Buckeye living in the big bear state(Calif)

RE-Entrepod said...

Very Good Dori. Internations is a great group. my sister belongs and maybe when I get back to living abroad I'll be asked to join. being an expat and living in london and manchester was fun for me. I especially love going to dinner and seeing folks I know I'll only see when I'm there. in paris there is a small brasserie where I go in the afternoons and I think it's the only place like it in the entire world. I've traveled quite a bit (40 countries) and it stands out in my mind for the miniature croissants that I dip in warm chocolate and eat with my glass of tea time wine.

have you gotten into tea time yet ? and have you done high tea at the ritz yet ? ohhhhhhhh myyyyyy..
it's so surreal and wonderful.

Krystal Grant said...

I'm not sure how I'd feel living in another country. I think it would take me a very, very long time to get used to it. I've been living in Georgia, US for 12 years and I am just now calling it home!

Jacqueline said...

Hello Dori,
I'm elated that you are now affiliated with an organization, which practices inclusion and is committed to spreading warmth. I know how icy loneliness can be.

campbele said...

Hi Dori!
You've exactly described what it is like to live overseas and why I'm so ready to move again! I miss living on the fringes!

Sissym said...

Hello Dori,
My mother is German and lives in Berlin today. But she lived some years in Brazil. She returned to Berlin when older. What I find a pity that she never made friendship groups, although it is very nice. I think it helps a lot to give spiritual comfort to those who are living in a different country.


Kisses

Deidre said...

I totally agree about the 50/50 (although I think for me it's probably closer to 60/40 - I was really depressed when I lived in the US).

InterNations sounds very interesting. Maybe I'll look up if there are Australian chapters.

Dori said...

Mike,
You are funny :) I think it's true though...new surroundings are a trip whether it's another state or another country. So yep I think you were Mike ;-)

RE Entrepod,
Oh wow, it's so cool that your sister belongs to the group :) I know you'll be asked to join for sure.You've got to tell me the name of that brasserie in Paris so we can drop in the next time we get over there. You had my mouth watering over the croissants and chocolate :) I do tea time a bit here at home. I haven't done high tea at the Ritz, but it has definitely been on my list for a while. Brit Boy and I are gonna check it out soon. Thanks as always for your insights.

Krystal,
You're right. For some of us it takes a while to find our footing. I've been here nearly four years and it is just getting to the point where it's familiar and I feel like I have a history here. So it does take time. And I'm like you, it will probably take me a good while longer until I truly call it home. So I totally relate to your experience :) Thanks for sharing with me.

Jacqueline,
So true...loneliness can pile on top sometimes. And yes, I'm hoping that this group will be a great blessing to my experience as an expat. Thanks so much for your support and friendship :)

Campbele,
It's true...it is living on the edge of things somewhat :) I hope that you do get a chance to living abroad again! It is an interesting way to live and I'm glad to be having this experience for sure :)

Sissym,
This is so true. Spiritual comfort is so important. It helps to feel that you are connected to others. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and for your friendship :)

Deidre,
This is so interesting to get your take too. I never knew that my 50/50 would resonate like this :) I hope that you find a chapter in Australia too. They seem to have them all over the place. I'm so glad that I could share this info :)