An interview with Laura Bronner from the Eternal Expat Blog.
Q. What inspired you to live abroad (that pivotal moment)?
I moved abroad because I fell in love. While studying abroad in college, I met a British guy and we just hit it off. When my semester ended, I headed back to Boston to finish my degree and we spent a year and a half in a long distance relationship. Leading up to our respective graduations, we decided that we’d be fair about it and pick a country that neither of us were from. So we moved to New Zealand. We’ve been following each other around the world ever since.
Q. What are the top 3 things you’ve learned about yourself since immersing into other cultures?
I learned that I love having community around me. One of the hardest things about moving around constantly is that you don’t have a core group of people that really know you and it really started to make me sad. As an eternal expat, I know that when I move to a new country or city that I need to work hard in those first few months to build a community otherwise I won’t really love where I’m living.
Living abroad, working in other country’s and their work cultures has really helped show me what I want to be doing with my life (and what I definitely don’t want to be doing). I think that if I had just stayed in the US, I would definitely not be doing the work that I love or perhaps it would have taken me a much longer time to get to where I am now professionally.
I’ve learned that there are SO many places in the world. There are so many wonderful languages and so many diverse facets of each of those languages. Now, I really love languages far more than I ever did in high school.
I’ve learned that people are so kind, which has taught me patience. I never would have learned had I not replanted myself in so many different places.
Q. What advice would you give to someone considering to live abroad?
When people asked me this question five or six years ago I used to say "Just do it!" I preached that it would change your life for the better and that everyone should experience it. Now that I’m older and ever so slightly wiser, I think that living abroad isn’t for everyone. It’s hard.
There are times when you will wonder what the heck you are doing and why you made the decision to leave in the first place. You have to re-learn how to be a person in society, even in places that may share the same language.
It’s hard to give solid advice to people because there are so many factors. When I first moved abroad, I was young and carefree. I was 23, I didn’t have any ties. No house, no job, no debt, no real stuff other than a suitcase full of clothes.
I was incredibly lucky and I also had a partner in crime to support me in every move that I’ve made. If you have kids, if you are older and are considering a career change, if you’re single and are going to be moving abroad alone, if you are retired and want a slower pace of life or a warmer place to live. These are all things I haven’t had to consider.
My two biggest pieces of advice that I could give are just do your research and to have a nest egg. Know what you’re getting yourself into. Visit the country beforehand if you can. Know as much as you can before you commit, but also know that you can always go back. The nest egg allows you to have a buffer not only for when you first arrive (if you don’t have a job yet). It also allows you to know that financially you can come back if you absolutely need to.
Q. Where do you plan on settling – if ever, and why?
Never! haha no, really I don’t know. I love living in Mexico. It’s an amazing country and there are so many cities and towns that I could see myself "settling in." But then I think, I also love Colombia and I also love Italy and oh man do I miss Sydney. What about the amazing food in South East Asia and all of the place I could travel to from there?! The idea of settling down just isn’t on my radar right now, so it would be impossible to say where that place will be one day, but I’m sure the day will eventually come.
Laura, Eternal Expat