“Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.”Hannah Ahrendt
When you move to a new country and pave a path to expatriates’ communities in an attempt to make connections, the first question that often pops up is the infamous ‘Why are you here?’. To this query, most people come up with an explanation regarding work or education purposes. It would thus seem uncommon, and even uncanny, to reply with the following answer: ‘just to live’.
Perhaps, this is merely the meaning of fresh starts and do-overs, or does it reflect the basic idea behind the concept of expatriation?
I fall into the second category of people, those who choose to relocate abroad for they sense that they are nomad at heart; for they are aware that settling in a new place means much more than work opportunities; for they know they need to move from place to place to keep an open-mind and constantly seize new experiences. I moved to a city that I had always dreamed of solely based on an intuition I had ever since I had been child. I believed I would live there for years, perhaps for my whole life. However, over time, I fathomed out that there was so much more to life than settling in one place, even when escaping it once in a while. Living never meant settling; for settling also equals narrowing the possibilities, limiting the freedom, surrendering to fears and doubts.
One can wonder: does one need an excuse, such as deteriorating living conditions or complete loathing of their home country, to flee from it? Yet does it imply running away, though? Or is it the complete opposite: being fully open to change and embracing the myriad of opportunities that are spread out all over the globe for each and every one of us?
Of course, we did not all walked the same path and reasons thus vary. But for those lucky enough who did not have to run off as a result of poor circumstances, it is an enriching experience to grasp. A realization that the world is ours, and there is nowhere we could not possibly fit in. At times, we start off on this impressive journey for we seek major changes in our life, or we find ourselves at a turning point, aware that we could gain more enlightenment elsewhere. This is why this road oftentimes lead us to self-discovery and enhancement. What may start as a challenge can also end up being the most rewarding adventure ever.
“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”Christopher McCandless
Today, the mere thought of going back to live in my home country occurs to be one of the bleakest thought ever. It would signify confining myself to a culture I’m already accustomed to. It would be as though I was going back to the past versions of myself that no longer reflect who I am. For there is another view to discern from another rooftop, another boulevard to explore, another smell to discover — and these are endless opportunities to see the world from another viewpoint.
Being an expat means being evermore ready to leap into the unknown. Embracing the idea of getting to know a new culture, perhaps feeling like an outsider for a brief time, accepting the universe’s magic of new encounters and uncovering new and previously hidden parts of your soul.
Can one ever truly go back to the place that shaped them in such an incomplete self?
does being an expat simply means defining oneself as a citizen of the world?