What (who) is an Intentional Expat?
Intentional expats are those people who have left their home to experience life in another country and culture and wants to proactively take the steps to make the very most of this exciting, memorable, and inevitably challenging, life change.
I wasn’t always an intentional expat. My journey started almost ten years ago when I traveled outside of North America for the first time with a study abroad tour organized by my university. I was twenty years old and eager to see France, Austria and Germany, but one country stood between me and unlimited crepes, opera and bratwurst: Spain. Despite my low expectations for our first stop on our Euro trip, it only took a couple of days in Madrid before I had fallen in love with the city. By the end of week one, I had already taken a vow that I would move there one day.
And that’s exactly what I did. It only took four years, a handful of Spanish classes, a couple of shorter trips back to Europe, and plenty of sleepless nights and doubt filled drives to work, before I finally made this dream a reality. In September 2009, I took a nine month break from working in the field of psychology to try my hand at teaching English in Madrid. Nine months turned into what has now been five years of battling the ups and downs of life abroad to make another dream come true, by uniting my love for Spain with my love for psychology. I’m delighted to be able to say that I now work as a mental health therapist in Madrid.
This blog is the place to find out how I made my dreams come true, as well as to get some invaluable tips on living your own best life abroad in Spain, or wherever in the world you might find yourself. Drawing on my personal experience and professional expertise I’ll be writing about the joys of travel, mindfulness, emotional resiliency, homesickness, creating a community while abroad, finding yourself, and more. Since I believe that a good sense of humor is one of the best resources we have for bolstering our mental health and staying sane in the midst of cultural misunderstandings, you´ll also find some posts that are for nothing more than #laughs.
My hope is that study abroad students, Peace Corps volunteers, English teachers working internationally, etc. will find this blog to be helpful as they navigate the roller coaster of living outside of their home country. And that anyone reading this blog while still at home will find inspiration to take the leap to try life abroad or use these tips to soak up all that life has to offer while at home.
Take a look around to see if there´s something that’s useful to you and please contact me with any questions and/or suggestions you have for blog posts!