From vacation to expatriation…

22 Dec

Tulips on a cornerstone, growing on their own

Previously, we talked about how to spot in one’s psyche, the desire to expatriate, even for just a little while. We all do it to some degree with a vacation, getting away from the mundane to embrace a temporary sort of life that gives us the mental boost to soldier on, or as they say in my former neck of the woods, ‘cowboy-up’ to the responsibilities of life. So, we all have a need to expatriate for brief times over our lifetimes.

What makes a vacation turn into expatriation? Let’s start by saying what expatriation isn’t. It isn’t just running away from responsibility, because at some point, no matter where you live, life does require certain things from us as humans…you’re an adult, you understand. It also isn’t that I hate my country (although the politics can be upsetting) or my southern heritage, or that I am ashamed to be an American in any shape or form. Quite the opposite really, I am still a proud American and Southerner (yes, and in that order–surprised?). And barring any legal reasons for leaving your country of origin, I think most of us love our heritages and the countries from which we hail.

Yep, I can hear you thinking–so, if expats are proud of their country, then why do they leave? I can only answer for myself and each individual has their own reasons for wanting to plant new roots. For me, it was simply to experience something I couldn’t find at home: new cultures, norms, attitudes, sights, sounds and having more of a sense of the world, of which I was only a small part–this is the paradox of being an expat. By this I mean, the very thing that draws us into this experience is the very thing that can make it so joyful and paradoxically, so difficult and often painful. Frankly, I don’t care for the term, ‘expatriate’ or ‘expat’, because the term does seem to imply some degree of dissatisfaction or alienation from one’s country, but I guess we can thank SEO for propagating the term, yes, I’m being cheeky here.

Where did my vacation turn into expatriation? The short answer is well, over a man. A man from my past (13 years to be exact) that re-entered my life and boy howdy, did my life turn like a dog’s hind leg! Yes, I wanted to experience all that life had to offer, but just like every dreamer, sometimes it’s more comfortable to feed the dream versus live it. When push comes to shove, even dreamers can be afraid to look down into the cavern of change and jump. But at that moment of truth, (such as the night before the movers arrive and your whole life is either in a box or sold) you finally let go, both with tears and hopeful expectations.


Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Daily life in France


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5 responses to “From vacation to expatriation…

  1. Michi

    January 8, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Exactly. I love this post! 🙂 I originally came to Spain on a contract to teach English and well, 9 months turned into 2 years, turned into love and marriage and three years later, here I am, establishing myself in this new home away from home. It really is amazing. And though the expatriate reality isn’t always the charming fantasy our friends from back home might think it is, it definitely has a beauty and unique experience that I would never trade in.

    P.S. Best of luck with your French! I’m currently learning French myself, and it is NOT an easy language!

  2. Amanda

    January 15, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I just stumbled across you page by total accident, but I’m glad that I did. I, too, am a Southerner. I’ve gotten the chance to read all of your posts, and I have to say that you are truly an inspiration to everyone, not just Southerners. You’re proof that life is what you make it, and not what everyone else tries to force on you. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing you’re life, stories, and good fortune with the world through your blog.

    • expatriotgames

      January 15, 2011 at 11:13 am

      Wow Amanda…I’m absolutely humbled by your comment, thank you so much. You have captured the essence of what I’ve tried to do as best as I can, which is to help and encourage as many as I can, to help folks learn from the many, many mistakes I’ve made and laugh along the way and open people’s eyes to the idea that dreams really do come true! From the bottom of my heart Amanda, thank you again! All the best to you, my new (Southern) friend and merci for reading!

  3. Amanda

    January 16, 2011 at 7:51 am

    You are very welcome. I subscribed to your blog so I can keep reading them. I check my e-mail beofre anything usually, so I’ll be sure to get your new posts. Thank you again for sharing everything you have with us. I wish you the best of luck in life and in writing, but most of all have fun and live and write from your heart!

    • expatriotgames

      January 16, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      Thank you kindlly, Amanda. I see that you do too (write from the heart), so that is an even greater compliment coming from you. Read you soon 🙂


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