Webster defines an Expatriate simply as “a person who lives outside their native country.” While this is true in its basic definition, what drives a person to become an Expat? Are they chasing money, a dream, an ideal, or possibly a combination of these and more?
There are two types of Expats from my observations, Settled and Nomadic. Corey and I became expatriates in 2011 upon moving to Australia. This is the second time for both of us as we have lived outside the USA with previous spouses, both on sailing boats. Considering our histories and our plans for the future there is a high probability we carry the “Nomadic Gene.”
Some expats move to one place and settle in, creating “Home” where they land. Others, possibly inspired by the excitement of the process; the planning and creating a new life with friends and community, find their first landing becomes a spring board for the next. These people become the wanderers, always looking towards the next adventure. This could possibly be considered an addiction, similar to the adrenaline craving that an extreme sports enthusiast experiences. Many humans are immune to this affliction or just possibly do not carry the "Nomadic Gene." Others may not have not tested themselves but may have a niggling suspicion they are susceptible. These individuals may suppress their urges as the nomadic lifestyle is far from what has been set as Normal Life. Go to school, go to more school, get a job, buy a car, buy a house, buy stuff, get married, have kids… SETTLE DOWN! This is truly seen as the best and possibly only path to take. Is this bad? No, not if you can say you are truly happy and content, and I know many that are. Following your heart, not your head or the expectations of others can help you determine if you are "Settling" vs. "Settled." As someone who has the "gene" it can be a challenge to find balance and feel settled.
When visiting the USA, friends and family often ask when we will move “Home.” During Skype sessions we are often asked when are we “coming home.” Many expats, including myself, have often referred to their native country as “home.” Statements such as, “I’m heading home for a visit in a few months” in an expat community are commonly heard, and there is a universal understanding of what that means although most expats would say they have more than one "Home." Expats with the Nomadic Gene are especially challenged around the concept of "Home."
The best quote I’ve read to describe the beauty and the challenge of being a wanderer is this, “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” Miriam Adeney.
As someone who suffers from this addiction, I’m often asked, “What is your favorite place of all you have visited?” This is truly impossible for me to answer. As the quote suggests, the experiences and relationships gained through travel are riches in themselves and all are equally exciting.
All this aside, do I miss family and friends left behind? Oh yes, very much! My heart aches to be closer when important milestones occur; a birth, a death, graduations, birthdays, even the loss of a beloved pet. My extended time in the USA this past year was such a blessing. I was able to attend our family reunion and two weddings, spend time with family and friends, hang out at our lovely beach home in Rockaway, snuggle as much as possible with Zoe and all the kiddos close to my heart, and love on my old dog Vela. All of these experiences and more, fill my heart and tide me over until I can return for more. That said, visiting with elderly family members and attending the funeral of my cousin, reminded me that tomorrow is not guaranteed. This year off of work is all about remembering that fact; nurturing my heart, my relationships, and creating experiences that will last a lifetime-- how ever long that may be.
Everyone isn't meant to wander. However, I would hope to inspire you to stretch yourself past what you think you may be capable of doing. Don’t find yourself "settling” for what you think may be expected of you if your heart is telling you to do something else.
My goal is to grow as old as I’m allowed, never looking back to say, “I wish I had…” I'm happy to succumb to the influence of the Nomadic Gene. It helps that Corey is also a carrier and fully addicted to the lifestyle. We enjoy our adventures as well as always looking forward to seeing family and friends, in the USA and abroad.
Stay tuned for more adventures this year starting in Malaysia. Here are some photos from our trip to the PacNW this past year (2015). Don't forget to click on the title of this blog to open into your browser. This enables you to see the slideshow below.
See you all online, back stateside, or where ever you may find us in 2016!!!
Cheers, Peggy and Corey