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

25 Things I’ve Learned In 25 Years On Earth

So. On Monday, October 8, 2018, I turned 25. In fact I’m writing this on that Monday evening, just to be sure I get things right, and also because I like being a dramatic like that (yeah).


Dear 24-year-old me,

This morning, when I woke up and realized I was 25 at last, it didn’t hurt as much as you’d thought it would. In fact, I felt pretty good and I still do.

Even though I know I am now a quarter of a century, and technically closer to 30 than 20 (although, not when writing this post because I’m precisely in between) I still feel okay with it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve put way more effort into my well-being and mental health these past few months, but I do feel happier, and more content with my life as a whole.

So, turning 25 isn’t so bad after all. And you do accept it even more when you realize, like I did, that you’ve accumulated quite valuable knowledge so far, that you wish you’d figured out earlier.

So here are the 25 most important things I’ve learned so far. May this knowledge be useful to anyone now or in the future, younger or older.


  1. Life is short.
  2. Take lessons from the past, dream about the future, but always remember to live in the present.
  3. You never know what turn your life is going to take from one minute to another.
  4. Never underestimate your own courage.
  5. What you can achieve only depends on what you think you can achieve.
  6. You have to be brave to fulfill your dreams.
  7. Always sleep on it.
  8. Don’t overthink, because your first take on something usually is the best one.
  9. Love doesn’t come easy, you’ll have to work at it.
  10. Be patient: things always come around.
  11. Never take life-changing decisions under stress or lack of sleep.
  12. Always make sure to make time for yourself everyday.
  13. Open your mind.
  14. Never forget things are never black and white.
  15. People who lie always will.
  16. Learn about History, and your own history: doesn’t define who you are, but gives you perspective.
  17. Don’t despair and believe: the wind will turn.
  18. If you are looking for answers, ask yourself.
  19. Alone doesn’t equal to lonely.
  20. If no one believes in you, believe in yourself.
  21. Your guts never lie.
  22. Always do the best you can.
  23. Always show kindness and understanding.
  24. Never let others tell you how you should live your life.
  25. But, always listen to your Mom (perhaps the best advice of all)

With love and kindness,

Lilly

aka The French Hat

If These Quotes Don’t Inspire You To Travel Nothing Will

1.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

2.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Lao Tzu

3.

Life is short and the world is wide.

4.

It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.

Henry David Thoreau

5.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.

Saint Augustine

6.

I travel because it makes me realize how much I haven’t seen, how much I’m not going to see, and how much I still need to see.

Carew Papritz

7.

The best education I have ever received was through travel.

Lisa Ling

8.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

9.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.

Mark Twain

10.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.

Mark Twain

11.

Travel doesn’t become adventure until you leave yourself behind.

Marty Rubin

12.

People don’t take trips, trips take people.

John Steinbeck

13.

Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.

Cesare Pavese

14.

All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.

Samuel Johnson

15.

When overseas you learn more about your own country, than you do the place you’re visiting.

Clint Borgen

16.

Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul.

Jamie Lyn Beatty

17.

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

18.

The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.”

Anna Quindlen

19.

Live your life by a compass not a clock.”

Stephen Covey

20.

If you think adventures are dangerous, try routine: It’s Lethal.”

Paul Coelho

21.

The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.

Sir Richard Burton

22.

Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.

Lovelle Drachman

23.

Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.

Ibn Battuta

24.

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

Robert Louis Stevenson

25.

It feels good to be lost in the right direction.

26.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Helen Keller

27.

I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.

Caskie Stinnett

28.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

29.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Neale Donald Walsch

30.

Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”

Alan Keightley

31.

Live life with no excuses, travel with no regret.”

Oscar Wilde

32.

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.

33.

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.

Susan Sontag