I, recently, participated in an online survey for expat women living in Europe. A nice article in response to the results of this survey is over at Expatica.
You can read it here.
A quick take on the results are in this quote from Expatica:
In a survey of more than 200 women living abroad, 74 percent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their lives while only 12 percent said they weren’t. Foreign women living in Switzerland, France and Belgium ranked the highest in satisfaction levels while those in Spain and Germany polled the lowest.
Most expat women who took the survey share the same challenges.
Some of those challenges are missing family, learning a new language, understanding a new culture, meeting new people and overcoming sex discrimination.
However, in face of the challenges that expat women living in Europe experience, overall they are happy.
Why? I think it is because we, as women, have challenges living, as women, in our own countries. The only difference is we may be more accepting of those challenges since we grew up with them.
Which comes back to a truth.
Expats are forced to grow as people in ways that others living safely inside their own countries for their entire lives will never experience.
Once expats stop fighting against their new country, they see that the people of their new country aren’t really so different from the people of their own country of origin.
Then, they start feeling at home in a not so strange land.
My biggest challege as an expat woman?
Even though Switzerland has become my home, I will never get over missing my family.
Yesterday, I was on the phone with my mother. She had tears in her voice talking about missing my children. I couldn’t say anything to comfort her except that I love her.
I know she wants us to move back to the States. I do wish that I lived closer to her. I miss my family. Yet, I know that I will never go back to live in America. There will always be an ocean separating my family from me.
It is hard. It will never grow easier over time.
That is the biggest challenge for me as a female expat. It isn’t the culture or the language even if those things are obstacles.
It is that I miss and need my family and I know that they miss and need me, too.
Travel quotes that I can easily apply to my life as an expat.
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” – Robert Frost
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman
“Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings.” –- Hodding Carter
“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Goldoni
“A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” — Moslih Eddin Saadi
“When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” – D. H. Lawrence
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
“Travelers never think that they are the foreigners.” ~Mason Cooley
“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” ~G.K. Chesterton
“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” ~St. Augustine
“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb
“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” ~Lillian Smith
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ~Mark Twain
“I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself.” ~James Baldwin
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” ~James Michener
“The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.” ~Henry Boye
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” ~Aldous Huxley
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure — self-determined, self-motivated, often risky — forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind — and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins