Life is all about making choices.
Some choices, like what to eat, what to wear or where to spend your Sunday brunch are big, while others are even bigger.
Like choosing where to live.
When it comes to choosing a location, some people decide to stay in their hometowns, while other adventurous souls opt for a more exotic lifestyle abroad: expatriation.
This emerging lifestyle has become a common trend in our modern and globalized world. People today voluntarily move from their home countries to settle in another place in the hopes of finding something better: A better job, education, lifestyle, relationship, experience, excitement or whatever else their heart desires.
Basically, when it comes to being an expatriate, the options are endless and can suit every taste.
The way I look at it, the laws of feng shui apply to life as an expatriate regarding satisfaction and happiness: Change your house, change your luck.
I have been an expatriate all my life, and I am quite familiar with this lifestyle. By now, I know it inside out. Truth be told, I’ve lived in so many cities, and I’ve been exposed to so many different cultures that I barely know my own anymore. When people ask me where I come from, my mind goes blank for the first couple of seconds before I respond.
But that confusion aside, there are many great benefits that come with having an expat life. The obvious ones are that we get to live in new cities where we meet a lot of fabulous new people from different countries and backgrounds. In our globalized world, moving to a new city can’t be made any easier: With social networks, smartphones and international retailers (and probably a little help from Google Translate), we get to feel both close to home, and as constant tourists at the same time.
So basically, this is a dream life.
But that’s not why I find it so refreshing.
Behind the expatriate lives that we have lies an untold truth that no one talks about. One that makes it worth leaving behind all those ties to the cultures, traditions and lifestyles that we so eagerly hold onto. One that is secretly kept by those who have been living this life long enough to fully understand it and appreciate it.
Somehow, in this blended mish mash of cultures that we are exposed to, we reach a point where we no longer feel completely tied-down to the roots of our own culture, and at the same time we certainly appreciate - but are in some respects detached to the new and varied cultures where we live and work. This means that by living in a different country, we get the luxury of cutting the cord with the social norms and rules that others have set for us as we create and implement our own.
Basically, we end up like a horse running in the wild, as he or she pleases, with no attachments.
And I find this very empowering, especially now that I became a mom.
Let’s face it, motherhood has its own challenges, and there is nothing worse than having the social pressures pile on making a mom’s job even harder than it is. When it comes to children, the entire world seems to have an opinion about the dos and don’ts of parenting and this can change a mom’s job from fun to horrific.
However in the life of an expatriate, parenting is much more pleasant.
Here are some things that I love about being an expat mom: Exposing my child to diverse cultures at a young age, when she is able to absorb so much. Broadening her horizons in ways that are incomparable with a family that lives in the same city, generation after generation. The option to chose how to discipline my kids.
Basically all the simple parenting stuff - the type of stuff that can stick in a child’s mind and create his/her best family memories, but which can be spoiled as soon as the social pressures kick-in.
In order to protect my kids’ memories, and to survive three decades of expat life, I have become a powerful pragmatist with the common-sense of a traveller trapped in the mind of a mom.
I explore, I listen and then I make my own rules.
The way I see it, being an expatriate brings parenting to its core essence.
It isn’t about running away from one’s social ties.
It is about taking ownership and responsibility.
It is about broadening one’s horizons.
It is about getting rid of pollution of the mind.
It is about being the right parent to your child.