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Jade Longelin, Bogota

Who are you?

I’m a world citizen specialized in digital marketing with a keen eye for analyzing and comparing cultural differences.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I’ve always lived ‘abroad’. I started living abroad since I was 6. I’m basically a professional expat!I was born in Paris but haven’t lived there since I was little. As of now I’ve lived in Miami, Madrid, Pamplona, Luxembourg and Bogota.

I moved to Miami when I was 6 because of my dad’s American dream; I moved to Pamplona after high school to learn Spanish and study my undergrad; I moved to Madrid after graduating to explore and find myself; to Luxembourg for its generous salaries and recently to Bogota for love and family.

What challenges did you face during the move?

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As much as I love discovering new places, adapting definitely takes some time. More than a language barrier, going through all the phases of culture shock is hard. Not knowing how things work in your new country can be frustrating. You always compare to other places you’ve lived in.

But most importantly, having to start from zero and start making new friends is challenging. That’s what really breaks my heart. I cherish my friends and trying to rebuild strong bonds every few years is difficult.

Are there many other expats in your area?

As big as Bogota is, there are not that many expats. We all know each other or are connected in some way.

There’re the backpackers who’ve fallen in love with the country and decided to stay and teach English and there’re the ones that came here for work with their family.

We’re not that many really.

What do you like about life where you are?

Bogota has many good things. When you have an expat salary, living here is very affordable. You have luxuries that you couldn’t afford back in the US or in Europe.

Also, people are really flexible so you soon figure out that with a little bit of charm, anything you want can be done. I love that.

And not to mention the selection of fruits in Colombia is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. That’s a big plus!

What do you dislike about your expat life?

I’m so used to being a foreigner that it’s the norm for me. But I guess feeling a sense of belonging would be something I miss. I’ve never felt like I truly belonged or integrated in a country.

Even in France, I’m a foreigner now. I have an accent when I speak, I don’t fully relate to the mindset. It’s weird.

I can’t say I fully belong and that’s something maybe I wish I could do.

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

This goes back to the point of being flexible. People here show up late, don’t show up at all, will try to negotiate things you’ve always thought are non-negotiable.

Colombians take life as it goes and live in the present. Although it can be frustrating, if you learn to go with the flow, you might learn a thing or two.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

Let’s be honest. Generally speaking, no foreigner will tell you that Colombian food is delicious. It might be so to a Colombian because it’s what they grew up with. But not to anyone else.

I’ve heard that food throughout Latin America (except for Mexico) is generally a meat-heavy, fried carb overload. It’s like that in Colombia and I’m not surprised if it’s like this throughout the rest of the continent.

What have you learned from living abroad?

I know nothing. People are so different, they have a wealth of information to bring to you no matter how simple a life they live.

Living abroad has taught me to broaden my scope, and tackle new situations with an open heart.

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

I don’t believe that things happen to you. You happen to things. You are in control of more than you think you are. This means that you have the power to shape your future instead of leaving it to fate.

So go where you want to go, and be whoever you want to be.

What are your plans for the future?

Like everyone else, I want to be happy. But what does that mean for me? Having a successful personal project that allows me to live a financially comfortable life and travel with my family. As simple and as complicated as that.

You can keep up to date with Jade's adventures on her blog, Bogotastic.

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