Time To Say Goodbye Again | Thoughts On Expatriation #2

I’ve had a hard time writing on this topic, because I do think I’m not like many people and it’s making me nervous. But I’ve also said I’ll be as honest as possible on this blog. October the 15th has passed, therefore it’s official: I’ll be leaving for my second expatriation in less than a month.


And yes, you’ve guessed it, Singapore is the destination!

Small disclaimer: in this blog post, I’ll be talking about very sensitive subjects, on purpose, because I feel like giving my opinion and let my voice be heard is quite as important as hearing the voice of others on those subjects. So there will be talk about:

  • Expatriation v. immigration;
  • White European girl wanting to discover as much as she can about the Asian culture(s);
  • Moving v. Traveling

To make things perfectly clear, I’m going to Singapore to work, and work a lot for that matter. And anyway, Singaporean authorities wouldn’t let me stay on their land otherwise. You can find a lot of resources on that subject everywhere on the web.

But to be perfectly honest, I can’t believe my luck.

The Wonders Of Asia

My first expatriation was in Ireland, and it already was quite a change compared to France. I had some preconceived ideas about the culture that were literally blown away by the end of my two years living there. And I’ve discovered things you could never find in books or on the internet. But that’s for another blog post.

But now Asia, this is a whole other story.

As a white French girl, I will say I feel as far from the Asian culture as can be: not by choice, though. I would love to know more about each and every culture composing it, making this culture one of the oldest, richest and most diverse of our world.

COLLAGE ASIA

Japan I know a lot already, due to my early interest in this country and my learning of its language since early 2017. But what about the others?

Bengali, Burmese, Chinese, Cambodian, Dravidian, Filipino, Hmong, Hong Kong, Indonesian, Israeli, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Macanese, Malaysian, Miao, Mongolian, Punjabi, Tibetan, Romani, Sindhi, Tajik, Taiwanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Malay…

What am I rambling about? I say this because Singapore is a real melting pot: it has a diversity of languages, religions, and cultures, with 4 official languages, 8 religions being practiced on its land, and at least 9 completely different cultures thriving there.

And for the record, I currently feel two things:

  • I feel very lucky to be able to see what I’ve been dreaming about with my own eyes;
  • I feel disappointed I’ll probably never be able to fit in any of the Asian countries.

Which brings me to my next point:

Why Stay In My Original Country?

…while there is so much to discover elsewhere?

And I do mean discovering it by actually living in those places. Not wandering about during your annual two-week holiday trip.

I’m not saying you won’t see anything in such a short period of time, but rather that you won’t be able to get very much in depth on anything.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I will be touching on those sensitive points I’ve disclaimed above.

I’m not judging anyone, I’m just saying I know you simply cannot get a good idea of a place and its culture(s) while only staying there for less than three months. And yes that’s a totally subjective minimum.

Now, people will have different takes on this, but I also think a place cannot be detached from its living population: therefore it’s constantly growing and you will never be able to know everything about it (but I guess it’s now more a matter of what you consider being a ‘knowledge’… but I’m going too far).

My point is, I’m not saying I wish to discover the Asian culture to then become a sort of sociological expert or a tour guide.

I’m not fooling myself thinking I’ll know everything there is to know about Asia even after living there for years.

But I can try experiencing as much as I can get into my system.

In fact, just so you know I make a point living like locals when I’m in another country. Not imitating, but experiencing life as they do. So that after a while, I can consider myself a local without blushing.

And I’m desperate to do it again soon.

Privileged French Expat’

Okay, third sensitive point. And it may be the worst one for many people. So without getting into much detail I’ll just say this:

Yes, I am white. Yes, I am French and therefore extremely favoured compared to most of the world’s population.

But I can’t do anything about those two things.

Yes, I have the opportunity to expatriate myself, i.e. moving to another country where I’ll be working (/immigrating: moving to another country because my original one cannot welcome me anymore).

And YES, I know how lucky I am and how many people would love to find work in the first place and what’s more find work in another country than their original one.

I’m not saying being aware of it wipes out the fact I still am considered privileged.

I only wanted to address this topic before getting real hate about it, and I know I will get it.

Saying Goodbye…

Last time I knew I would stay in Ireland for 2 years.

This time I’m saying goodbye for I don’t know how long… every single one of my close family members and friends have already planned their trip to come and see me over the next year.

Adventure cannot get more real than that, despite it being a sensitive matter because of my skin colour, nationality and situation in life.

And you know what? Maybe I should be, but I’m not scared one bit.

Until next time,

With love,

Lilly

aka The French Hat


© Photos: Main picture: istockphoto.com – Chinese dragon: EvBiD.com – Lanterns: Desktop-Screens

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The Next Chapter Of My Life | Thoughts On Expatriation #1

It’s all about opportunities” … or character. In a couple months I will turn 25, aka a ‘quarter of a century‘. Here are my thoughts on how I’ve always intended to live my life and how I’ve been able to fulfill my dream: living an expatriate life.


I’m that annoying person who’s always claimed:

If you want, you can

This French saying basically reminds you that if you really want something, you can get it, or do it. Nobody or nothing should ever stop you from reaching your goals. And I’m the living proof that that motto isn’t only motivational talk. So, when it comes to my love of travelling, I always knew where I was going.

Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone Is The Hardest Part

As a kid, who did you find most inspiring? Astronauts? Scientists? F1 drivers? Firefighters? For me it was travelers. You know, real backpackers, wanderers, international reporters, professional translators travelling around the world… really anyone that could travel full time, either through their work or on savings, allowing them to discover new cultures, customs and languages.

This seemed like the dream life to me.

I don’t remember exactly when I first discovered it was actually possible not only to visit other countries but actually live there, as an expatriate. But it must have been when I was 7 or 8, through a movie or a book. What I do remember is what I thought to myself that day: I would give anything to live this kind of life.

Little did I know at that moment what my future life would be like.

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Me then, quietly enjoying the Irish landscapes – © Gilles Gautier

Pretty soon, life answered me.

Right after finishing high school, when I was only seventeen years-old, I got accepted into a very selective university program, allowing me to study law in Dublin, Ireland for two years.

Those two years were absolutely incredible, but to be honest, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I should have, because at the time, I struggled with my anxiety a lot: getting out of my comfort zone wasn’t easy at first, but I’ve learned then to enjoy and control it.

The Courage To Lose Sight Of The Shore

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. – André Gide

This perfectly sums up the most important lessons I’ve learned from life so far: you will never do anything in life, unless you make a leap of faith.

I’m not saying you should take such leaps every minute of every hour of every day of your life. What I’m saying is to take a leap from time to time, when you want and are able to take it. And this does not only apply to travelling: the same goes for everything in life.

Your life can radically change from one minute to the next, so why not control those changes as much as you can?

Why wait to experience new things when you don’t know how much time is on your hands?

Think about what you’ll say to your children and grandchildren: do you want to say “I’ve always wanted to do it, but I never found the time and the courage“? Or do you want them to know you’ve done everything in your power to live your dreams and always come up with new ones?

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Me now, living my best life in Japan.

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.

Defying All Odds

My main point here is this: I was not predetermined to live the life I’m currently living.

I’m a only child. My whole family is French and doesn’t speak any other language than French, except my father who speaks English in his work. I’m from a rather small city in Southeast France, Lyon. My father is an IT consultant, my mother’s an accountant. I didn’t learn any English before I was 11 years old, and even then it was only through school. I never went to any prep schools, or took international classes. I never traveled outside France during my childhood.

But: I doubled my efforts to learn English by myself. In high school, I worked much harder to get into a selective university program. Then I worked harder to stay in the university path I’d chosen. Then I worked even harder to pass the French bar exam. And for the last 4 years, I worked my a** off to be the best intern possible.

So today, I’m almost 25. I’ll be graduating as a lawyer in a month. I’ve lived in Ireland for 2 years and I’ve traveled to 3 continents and more than 10 countries. I’m learning Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and I’m getting ready to expatriate myself in Asia to work for a multinational company.

What were the chances? You tell me!

If I hadn’t doubled my efforts, I would not be where I am today in my life, but I was willing to put everything I had into it to follow my dream!

So stay tuned to my blog to follow me on my next adventures, because let me tell you right away: there will be a lot more!


This is one of the most personal blog posts I’ve written on this blog. This subject was not easy to write about. I’ve carefully chosen every single one of my words here, and I hope it inspires you to take a leap of faith, just like me!

Signing off,

Lilly, aka The French Hat