The Over-thinking Expat (AKA Kimberly) was born in raised in Atlanta, Georgia and has spent most of her adult life living in Ireland, the US, and her current host country, the United Arab Emirates. She considers herself a professional nomad, which means her work changes to accommodate her passion for living and traveling abroad. She’s managed a yoga studio, worked in rural Irish pubs, taught ESOL and currently teaches English to young children in an Abu Dhabi public school. When she’s not teaching, you can probably find her accompanied by her laptop, a writing notebook and a caffeinated beverage.
Here she talks to LEW about how resilient she’s become whilst living abroad, and any difficulties she’s faced.
Sometimes there is nothing more comforting than hearing the front door click behind me as the stresses of the day disappear in the quiet of my apartment.
However, since I live alone most of the time, in moments of anxiety and loneliness my home can feel empty, and the peaceful quiet is replaced by my thoughts and worries echoing off the walls. All expats need a place to go when home is not the refuge it should be. For me, it’s a local coffee shop where I can always count on a warm welcome, as little or as much company as I desire, and free wifi. My biggest secret to survival here was finding my second sanctuary. One should always have at least two shelters when living abroad:home, and escape from home.
One of the benefits of traveling or living abroad is the freedom it grants you.
There is no opportunity for personal development that could ever compare to leaving behind every influence that shaped you, everyone that knows you, and every box you’ve been put in.
When you move abroad, it is the ultimate chance to start over, to experiment, to be that amazing exciting person you never felt you could be at home. The roles created for you by family, friends and colleagues are erased, and your ability to reinvent yourself is bound only by your desires and imagination.
The problem is that sometimes we need these boundaries, these boxes, to keep ourselves grounded. When everything you know is oceans away, it’s easy to get lost, and once you get lost, you’re surrounded by strangers who may not be able to guide you back.
At times, I struggle with choices I’ve made and I question myself frequently. Building a strong community of trustworthy friends has been paramount, but is not an easy or fast undertaking.
Finding new friends that somehow know you who truly are and can help keep you on the right track is essential. Don’t try to be too independent when living abroad, or limit yourself by rejecting friendships with other expats. Seek out friends of all cultures, share with them, listen when they share, and build quality relationships.
Appendix: The Over-thinking Expat: An American living in the United Arab Emirates writes about her experiences and observations as an expatriate, a traveler, and a human.http://www.overthinkingexpat.wordpress.com
I loved this piece! Thanks for sharing, Kimberly and do follow her blog, it has some truly insightful articles about life in Abu Dhabi.