JOIN OUR FRIENDLY COMMUNITY
Learn from the experiences of other expats and make new friends in our disccussion forums and Facebook groups
READ OUR GUIDE TO MOVING ABROAD
The Expat Focus Guide to Moving Abroad contains everything you need to know when planning an international relocation available now, completely free
COMPARE QUOTES AND SAVE MONEY
Insurance, FX and international movers
LISTEN TO THE EXPAT FOCUS PODCAST
The Expat Focus podcast features interviews with expats living abroad and service providers meeting their needs subscribe today!
EXPERT FINANCIAL ADVICE & SERVICES
From our tax, investment and FX partners
Expat Focus Partners

Become a Partner. Click Here.
Columnists > Emmy Petersson

Emmy Petersson

The Backpacker That Stayed – The Accidental Expat

  Posted Wednesday May 11, 2016 (17:48:46)   (1705 Reads)

 

I love hearing people's stories of how they ended up where they happen to now live. Expat and travel stories are especially interesting, because while they can seem like very random life choices and navigation to an outsider, there always tends to be a clarity and a purpose to how things unfold.

So the traditional expat is someone who moves overseas with the intention of staying away for a longer period of time, but what about the travellers?

I've noticed a few different motivations and reasons why so many of those travellers seem to become long term expats over the years.

They fell in love with another traveller or a local that they can't bear to be without. Or at least can't help but give it the same fair chance as you would if it would have been a relationship forming with someone in your hometown. Love changes our focus more than we realise and it's one of the many beautiful ways different countries and cultures connect us.

They landed a really good job. Ok, it might have been amazing or it might just be that little bit better than what's waiting for them at home. This was the case for me, as I had no intentions at the time to stay for more than a year in Australia. But with the right job offer and little else on the horizon, the most compelling thing at the time was to stay. Now 6 years later, I'm still here in Australia and loving it. But I did change jobs after a few years.

They became the student. Many countries these days require special visas and usually by the time the traveller gets to about 30 years old, it gets very hard to find reasons (other than work) to stay. So many travellers I meet have started studies on their second degree/field of study because of inspiration, deep desire to learn or to stay for longer in the new place they love. And quite often it's a combination of all three.



They found the home they never thought they'd find. It's hard to explain to someone who has not felt it, but imagine that feeling of walking down a certain street and feeling like this is where you're meant to be. Not just as a traveller, but this place is meant for you. Somehow you need to find a way of staying here and allowing your new home to unfold. So many travellers I meet have felt lost or a general lack of belonging. So when you find that place that makes your heart sing a bit extra, you hold on tight and allow yourself to sit down for a bit.

Travellers rarely have a plan from a young age to be difficult, live far away and upset everyone they love by doing so. They are simply driven by a deep desire to explore, learn and widen their horizon. Sometimes that takes them very far away from where they started, but the amazing thing here is that the heart has no borders.

I used to plan life in one year increments when I first decided to stay in Australia. But it got very tiring after a while to always extend my "time to grow up" deadline by 12 months, so I just decided to allow myself to be someone who lives here. For however long I'm not sure, but this is my home until I choose otherwise. And as most expats (and many travellers!) would probably agree - we always have more than one physical home. Wherever we are and however far we have travelled.

If you're curious, for me it's point 1 and 4 in the above that stand most true. Which ones ring true for you?


Emmy Petersson
Blogger, speaker and relocation expert, Emmy Petersson is passionate about helping everyone to a balanced and happy relocation, regardless where in the world they are moving to and who is coming with them. Emmy believes there is a big difference between surviving and thriving in a new country. She’s also a firm believer that the right relocation mindset is just as important as any practical checklist. You can connect with Emmy through her blog or on Facebook.
 


Expat Health Insurance Partners


Cigna Global

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.