Nicole Eastman, Grand Cayman

Who are you?

I am a faith-filled and gifted individual who uses my gifts, including my leadership, honesty, vulnerability and openness, empathy, and
sensitivity to educate, encourage, inspire, and motivate others. I am a proponent of continued education and mentoring. I enjoy speaking,
writing, and showing others the nonjudgmental love that my Grandma showed me as a child and teenager through countless kitchen table talks.My degrees include a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (2010) and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Wayne State University (2004). Before medical school, I worked several jobs, including employment with several Metro Detroit gyms as an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor and as an ACE and NASM-certified personal trainer.

My educational background and life experiences, including extensive loss, fuel my passion for preventative medicine. I believe my greatest lessons in life came through my near-fatal accident in December 2010, two weeks after I was married and at the start of my career as a doctor. I am a social media enthusiast who has used my platform to share my testimony, and in doing so, I’ve assisted others in healing alongside me. My greatest motivation for truly living life and for continuously pushing forward with a growth mindset are my two children – miracles who were born following my accident. I was born and raised in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.

Currently, I live with my husband, children, and kitties in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. I think it would be beneficial for every individual to have the opportunity to live an expat life at some point along their journey, and I’ll forever be grateful to Cayman for life by the Caribbean Sea and some of my most memorable life moments, including my wedding and the births of my children.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

My husband and I took a huge leap of faith on August 29, 2012, when we moved from Michigan, U.S.A. to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. I was six months pregnant with our son, and we brought along our four kitties. We’ve since taken one more in that we’ve rescued here in Cayman. We felt led here.

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What challenges did you face during the move?

My husband’s job didn’t pan out the way that we had anticipated for several reasons, so we ended up being nearly homeless in paradise. When his work permit was just about to expire, a teaching position opened up and that kept us here. My husband now works for the government as a primary school physical education teacher.

Are there many other expats in your area?

Yes. There are expats in Cayman from all over the world. That is one of the beautiful things about this island. You can experience an array of culture! At the place of employment where my husband first worked here as a teacher, over 30 countries were represented under one roof! I love diversity and learning about others’ way of life.

What do you like about life where you are?

I love the peace that I feel next to the sea. The natural beauty here makes me feel like I live in Heaven on Earth. Every day I wake up and give thanks for another day in paradise! I also appreciate the weather, which allows me to get out of bed and be the best Mom that I can be to my little ones. Back in Michigan, I spent seven months in bed, in pain, prior to our move following my near-fatal accident in December 2010.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

I’m not sure I can say that I “dislike” anything. You have to adapt as an expat, and I realize that I always have the choice to go back to the United States where I came from. Cost of living is expensive here, but I cannot place a value on the peace and healing that I receive from being next to the beautiful Caribbean Sea. I am the “foreigner” here, which broadens my perspective and allows me to see things differently when looking at my home land, but I strongly believe that every single individual could benefit from living life as an expat. This is an experience that I don’t take for granted, and I’ll forever be grateful to Cayman and for the opportunity to live here.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

One of the most positive culture differences that I’ve noticed is the fact that Caribbean women seem to embrace their bodies and curves in a way that women in the States could learn from. Women were created amazing and it is sad to see girls and women not understand their inherent beauty in every shape and size. Going through pregnancy and childbirth, two c-sections (one emergency and then another planned due to limitations on the island), and breastfeeding has made me appreciate the female body in ways that I never did before. To all the young girls and women reading this, you were fearfully and wonderfully made, and there was no mistake in your design. Embrace yourself.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Trust the journey and give it time. If we would’ve given up and went back home when life got hard, then we would have missed out on so many beautiful memories created here. We’ve learned a great deal from living life abroad!

What are your plans for the future?

Oooh, that’s a good question! Life has taught me that there’s a plan greater than my own. I share this in the book that I wrote, Breaking Free: One Woman's Journey From Trauma And Pain to Self-Discovery And Life In Paradise.

This life that I am living is not what I had in mind when I was a young doctor and newlywed at the start of my career and marriage. Before getting hit by a semi-truck at nearly 65 mph two weeks after my wedding, I never imagined that I’d be home with two little ones and that the pain that I’ve felt would be being used to help others along their journey. In looking forward, I hope all of my gifts are used to serve others and to bring positive change to the world. I hope that others realize that they’re not alone, that there’s always hope, and that they are loved. I hope that others come to realize that their purpose in life is greater than any pain that they experience, and I hope that they allow themselves to follow their journey and take leaps of faith along the way.

You can keep up to date with Nicole's adventures on her website.

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