With every major decision that happens in your life, there are tipping points. They are situations, circumstances, and occurrences that develop, which will lead to action. That’s what happened to me. There was no one reason but an accumulation over time, until one day, I decided to act. My journey to expat life was a decade in the making.
My Journey to Expat Life: 10 Years in the Making
Let me explain:
I’ve spent over 20 years in the international travel industry and have traveled the world and got excited about places I had only read about. I saw these places through the eyes of a tourist or visitor, but nothing more.
When my youngest son turned 18 and announced his newfound freedom, a lightbulb went off in my mind which said, ‘hey that means I’m now free too’. What do I want to do with my life?
At that point, I said I was going to move to Aruba. I had been to the island several years earlier and liked it a lot. The weather, the low crime rate, and it being outside the hurricane zone. What could be better than that! BUT, it was the great recession, and I had been a real estate investor during that time. Things weren’t looking too good financially, so I put the idea aside. As time went on, the idea receded farther and farther in my mind, or so I thought.
One day, I met someone from Houston, TX, who lived in Paris, France. She was around my age, and African American. When I asked her about how long she had been there and how it came to be, she simply said, ‘I loved the language and thought I want to learn to speak like that.” And off she went. Hmm…
My Journey to Expat Life: The English Way?
Not long after that, I learned my cousin had been living in England for 30 years!
Social proof was coming at me left and right. Around the same time, racial and social issues were at a point where they had an emotional impact on me.
There were mass shootings in schools, synagogues, churches, movies, concerts, and nightclubs, and no one seemed to do anything about it.
My perception was that unarmed African American men and women were being gunned down by law enforcement without provocation and with impunity.
Within my community, citizens were calling law enforcement on black and brown folks for doing nothing but living their day-to-day lives. For me, I was feeling helpless, angry and constantly concerned about my two sons being in the U.S.
It seemed the U.S. was fighting the same fights my parents fought, and we were going backward.
My Journey to Expat Life: Yearning to Breathe Free
For me, as the Statue of Liberty reads, “…. I yearn to breathe free”.
I was looking for an adventure for my next chapter. I’ve lived nowhere else before and was in constant awe of those who had left their homeland seeking a different life here in the U.S. I wondered what that was like.
As a result, as someone once said,
‘If you can’t change the people you are around, change the people you are around.’
I began my research, a.k.a. YouTube videos and after several weeks came up with three destinations that looked promising.
I was looking for somewhere I could call home. As I formulated in my mind’s eye exactly what I was looking for, I got excited. A new land, a new language, a different culture, meeting new people and freedom! My journey to expat life started taking shape.
My goal was to get a new perspective on life through the eyes of people in a foreign land.
Since becoming an expat, I have been able to do just that, seeing the world through a different lens and discovering a newfound appreciation for how people are the same, at their core, no matter what part of the world we live in.
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by: Gail Turner Brown