I’ve taken note that more than a few posters (Cairo Carol, Paul in Qatar, and Surly Chick, just to name a few) have lived in several different countries. If you don’t mind sharing, would you explain why? Military family? Political instability? Just plain felt like it? Do you enjoy your globetrotting? Also, what is it like living in several different cultures? Is it difficult to live in a culture whose values you don’t agree with and how did you adjust? Which was your favorite? Curiosity abounds.
ETA: For those who are forced to move due to a significant other in the military, how do you feel about it? Has it ever been a strain on your marriage? Have you ever gotten sick of moving and said, “Seriously, I just want to stay here for a while.”?
My first move was at the age of 2, from Australia to England. My mother had migrated from England to Australia when she finished college, and married my father, and I think part of the reason they moved to England was that she hadn’t seen her family for more than 10 years.
My second move was back from England to Australia at the age of 9, when my father got a job at a new university college.
I then waited a long time – nearly 45 years - before migrating for a third time, to the United States. That was because I’d basically run out of good jobs for my over-specialisation within my profession in Australia, and one came up in the US where I was qualified and (more importantly) I was already well-known to the people I would be working with.
I’ve now been here more than 10 years, and I’m still enjoying it, partly because I’m seeing a lot of a country that otherwise I probably wouldn’t have visited much. Of course, it’s not all that different from Australia, so I haven’t had many major cultural adjustments to make. (Apart from a tragic lack of Vegemite in the supermarkets here).
I’ve haven’t lived all over the globe, but I’ve lived for more than a year in three European countries at various times in my life. I live in England for 2 years, Poland for 2.5 years, and Germany for 1 year.
None of this was for millitary, more like for jobs, although we always arranged it on purpose because we wanted to live overseas, not because it was required or anything.
I love living in other countries, at least the ones I’ve been to. I love seeing how there are totally different ways of doing ordinary things that make just as much sense as the way we do them.
I love getting to know the local history, the food, the different climates, etc. But of course there are always things I like and dislike about each county. They all have their fabulous parts and their rotten parts.
My least favorite thing is the languages. I am not one who easily learns languages, and I always struggle. And it is so irritating to be treated like an ignorant child just because I used improper grammar!
For example, I recently lived in Germany. I loved how the children were allowed and expected to walk freely around town unsupervised, I loved the fabulous bakeries on every corner, I loved the weather, and I loved how you don’t need a car to do almost anything. I did not like the irritatingly complex German language, I didn’t like the lack of Mexican food and water fountains, and I didn’t like the uptight Germans who would glare at a child who giggled in public.
As a Foreign Service officer, it’s part of the package. You can only serve in the US for five consecutive years before going back overseas. I’ve lived in Afghanistan, Germany, Kosovo, London and Albania. I gotta be honest, moving is getting very tiresome. As a single person, one doesn’t have the built-in support network one has when relocating with a family. Relocating every two/three years is exhausting and being far from your family can be difficult.
That said, it can be really exciting and sometimes as glamorous as the movies portray it. I’ve had dinner with presidents, prime ministers and princes. I’ve also been shot at, bombed, spit on, accosted on the street by someone I refused a visa, and treated like a piece of meat. But it’s amazing to experience so many cultures and meet so many very different people.
My least favorite place was Albania. When I was there, women were treated like crap. If you were walking down the street by yourself, you were fair game - day or night. And being 5’9" and blond, I really stuck out. Even women would give me hard time for daring to go about by myself. My favorite tour was London. I could never have afforded to live there and do the things I got to do if the government hadn’t been providing my housing. And I got the opportunity to do some super cool things - like be in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot and drink at the Beefeaters private bar in the tower of London.
I’ve lived abroad three times, in Israel for one year, in Bulgaria for a little over two years, and - you can discount it if you like because it wasn’t very much time - India for two and a half months.
It’s hard to say what I liked or disliked about these countries. I had great and craptacular moments in all three. Sometimes it was awesome learning about new cultures, sometimes it was frustrating and I just wanted to go home.
On the whole, I really enjoy living abroad and hope to spent my career working overseas.
If you want to be a Foreign Service Officer, the first step is to take the Foreign Service exam. You can sign up here.
From The Netherlands and lived in UK (5 years), Ireland (8 years) and Italy (three months and counting).
Mainly because I felt like it.
Good: A cliche, but it does make you more tolerant. If I were empress of the world I would make every single person live outside of their own country for at least a year just so they realised that their way is just one way of doing things. I mean, you may still prefer your own country’s ways and that’s fine, but I think I’d would be good if people realised their ways are customs rather than natural laws.
Bad: If you keep moving, you keep having to start from scratch. At a certain point in your life your friends start to buy homes and progress in their jobs while you’re still in rented accommodation at a starter level job. When you get older that starts to wring and for that reason I’m probably done country hopping.
Mind you, at current location, there are very distinct culinary advantages. Pass the espresso.
I have lived in Dubai, Wellington (NZ), Prague, and Tbilisi over the past 8 years. I left the US because I was declined for health insurance by every insurer licensed in the state. I enjoy it, though the infrastructure in Tbilisi made life difficult. Beyond the 4 places I have lived, I also spent 7 months living nowhere and just wandered around the Mid East and Indian ocean for a while.
No plans to return the the US full time.
Posted from Khartoum, Sudan… keeping my username relevant.
I lived ten years in Australia. I went there because she came into my life. When she left my life I stayed a bit before returning to America. While there I became a dual citizen. At some point I will return to Australia, at the very least to collect my superannuation and close any remaining accounts. Of course, assuming America doesn’t implode to a level that it would be better to remain Down Under.
My dad went to the US to get his PhD and ended up staying for another 7 years as a researcher. Then he decided to go back to Korea. I didn’t have much say in the matter as I was a minor at the time. So far I’ve lived almost exactly half my life in the US and half my life here, in Korea. It’s certainly given me a different perspective on things and I am pretty much fluent in both languages, so there’s a plus.
That being said, I’m not sure if I’d want to subject my kids to it. (Even when we were living within the US, we moved once every three years on average. Same in Korea.) Growing up is hard enough as it is - growing up in two different cultures was not easy at all. I had to work my ass off for three years to bring my grades up from Cs and Ds to As and Bs once we moved ot Korea (and I used to be an all A student in the US). Sometimes I wonder if I could have acheived better overall had I stayed put - who knows.
I lived in Korea for a year, came back. I did the language teacher thing. The hours were horrible, no legal protection, and the pay was bad. However, the one thing that forced me to come back was the food.
KOREA DOESN’T HAVE BACON!
I didn’t realize how much bacon was a part of my soul.
Just plain felt like it in my case. No weird political statements like “I’m leaving the decadent West!”
I’ve lived in only two countries: the US and Thailand. Circumstances brought me to Thailand some decades ago, I enjoyed it, and after a brief time back in the US for school, I returned here. It helped that I met my future Thai wife in graduate school in Hawaii, although I had intended to return anyway.
We definitely do not fit the farang-husband/Thai-wife stereotype. She’s a professional with a government position and a career and has no interest in becoming a US citizen. When we first registered our marriage at the US Embassy in Bangkok and arranged for her first 10-year visa, the official we dealt with just could not tweak to the fact that she would not be applying for citizenship. He kept trying to give us information about how to do that.
It’s awfully warm here. The beer is superior. And there are live lesbian shows. What more could you want?
(The wife is not a Doper, but she’s lived in Hawaii for school, and also Amsterdam and Jerusalem for weeks or months at a time for projects she was in charge of.)
I’ve lived in Azerbaijan, (Baku) Brazil, (Rio & Macae) Georgia, (Tblisi) Italy, (Padova) Korea, (Pusan) New Zealand, (Auckland) Malaysia ( KL & Sabah) Nigeria, (Lagos) Philippines,
(Manila-still here) Spain, (Costa del Sol) Turkey, Istanbul.
All work related but even if I was in these countries on a rotational work schedule I never returned back to the UK or NZ. For six months I was working in Nigeria I rotated back to Istanbul. It was only when I moved to Philippines in 2001 that I adopted that as my base and now rotate back to there from my work in Italy.
I’ve lived in Cameroon and China, both as a Peace Corps volunteer. I’m hoping to find a job that will lead me back to Africa. I’m in the middle of my fourth year away.
I joined Peace Corps because I’d done quite a bit of travelling, and realized that travel just wasn’t enough. I wanted to actually get to know these places from the inside. I also wanted to help out, and I lacked money but had time. And Peace Corps can be a great career boost, introduce you to amazing life-long friends, and give you a great opportunity to travel and learn languages.
I love the challenge of living abroad. Everything from buying tomatoes to going to the bank is difficult. You are always encountering things you don’t quite understand. And yet every day you become more and more adept at dealing with life. By contrast, life in America seems boring. Everything is right in front of you. You can go years without learning a thing.
And being a foreigner can bring you some interesting opportunities. Everyone wants to know you (which can be a good and bad thing) and you end up in a social position that you probably wouldn’t be in as a worker-bee in America. I certainly know that in America I couldn’t just drop by the mayor’s office to say hi, and I’d probably get kicked out of the swankest discos.
Finally, haven’t you always wanted to start a new life? Every new country is like a new life. Nobody knows your past, nobody knows your future. It’s thrilling. But it can also get extremely lonely. And sometimes the claustrophobic ex-pat social circles can et weird and tiring.
I absolutely loved living in Cameroon. I’m having more trouble with China- it’s just a very different than Cameroon. But I’m still learning every day. I’m hoping to continue to work in Africa. I have a theory that 10% of people who go to Africa end up with some deep life-long need to be there.
I haven’t exactly lived all over the globe, but I grew up in the US, studied for six months in England and four weeks in Spain, and have now lived in Ireland for almost ten years.
I always wanted to live somewhere other than the US. Partially it’s just that I’m nomadic by nature - even before I emigrated, I had moved from one part of the US to another every few years - and nothing says “change” more than moving to another country entirely. Partially it’s due to my intense dislike for a lot of aspects of American social and political culture. I had travelled to Europe a number of times before I moved to Europe, and in a lot of ways I already felt more at home over here.
So I really, really wanted to emigrate and I had all sorts of schemes up my sleeve as to how I was going to be able to do this: I took the Foreign Service exam, applied to graduate school abroad, got a TEFL certificate. Then through sheer dumb luck I managed to land an opportunity to get a work permit in Ireland, so that’s why I ended up here (although in truth it was always near the top of my list).
Of course, after a while the rose-tinted glasses wear off and I now appreciate things back home a lot more. Occasionally I even start to think about moving back. But it only takes a little to shake that off - lately, the strength of anti-UHC sentiment is doing a good job of that. I don’t really want to go back to a place where a significant percentage of the population believes it’s perfectly acceptable for people to die because they can’t afford health insurance.
I hit that point a couple years ago, bought an apartment in Ireland (on a scheme for low-income buyers which means I’d pay a penalty for selling - not that it’s possible to sell an apartment in the current economic climate) and started on a study course to get a Real Job. And now I feel stuck. I’m not entirely sure that I’d leave if I could, but I hate the fact that I feel I can’t leave. Once a nomad always a nomad, I guess.