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You Know You’re an Expat When…. | Expat Dream Team 3#

It’s Round 3 of the Expat Dream Team group collaborations post. On this virtual journey we adventure to 10 countries. If you haven’t read (or know of) Round 1 and 2 of the Expat Dream Team posts. They are fun, and exciting posts, about points of views of the expat lifestyle, contributed by amazing expatriates, that I connect with via Instagram.

Thank you to all the contributors in this post. It’s always an honor and a lot of fun, to have your connection and to get a glimpse of the expat lifestyle through your eyes.

Round 3: Expat Dream Team

For this post, I asked our collaborators to finish the following sentence,

You Know You’re an Expat When…….

Read Expat Dream Team Round 2; 64 Customs, Traditions and Holidays From Around the World | given to you by Expats

From Greece to Netherlands

Expat in Netherlands

Meet Alex_the_Amsterdamn. Born in Greece and living in Amsterdam. Alexandros is traveling the world and along the way, taking beautiful pictures. He writes in,

You know you’re an expat when …….

1) when you visit your home country but you’re missing “home”
2) when you can give accurate directions to tourists in a city you weren’t born
3) when you find yourself struggling learning a new language
4) when your parents video call you on scheduled dates and times
5) when you’re in the street and turn around surprised by hearing your mother tongue
6) when your couch is always a visitor’s bed
7) when you feel so thankful when someone responds to you back in English.

I hear you loud and clearly on number 6, Alexandros 🙂

From Ireland to Saudi Arabia

Expats in Saudi Arabia

TheBaileyClann is a lovely couple from Ireland living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This fun loving duo are nurses, living their best Saudi life, and traveling around the world.

Their viewpoints of knowing you’re an expat when……,

1) You start to embrace minimalism and become an expert at packing the things you only really need.
2) You gravitate towards any person who is the same nationality as you.
3) The friends that you make become your family.
4) You avoid the subject about when you are coming “home” when talking to your family.
5) You become the ultimate tour guide to anyone who visits you.
6) The things that used to annoy you about your home country don’t annoy you anymore.

From Croatia to Vietnam

Expat in Vietnam

Chasinglatitudes is Nina from Croatia living in Vietnam. From her IG feed, you can almost feel the Vitamin D 🙂 It has me wanting to get back to Vietnam as soon as possible.

Nina’s thoughts on, you know you’re an expat when……

1) you’re one of few people who don’t look like expert ninjas while riding a motorbike.
2) you constantly need to remind waiters NOT to put sugar into your freshly made fruit juice.
3) talk to English speaking locals using only simple present and singular nouns, otherwise the point just doesn’t get across.
4) when you have a special little box with several SIM cards, each for a different country.
5) when friends from your home country tell you: ” You dress like you come from a foreign country.”

From Ireland to China

Expat in China

ThePicutreLock is Megan, from Ireland living in China. Megan is a linguist, which I’m sure comes in handy during her travel adventures. Many of her, ‘You know you’re an expat when…’ has me shaking my head, YUP!

“As an Irish expat living in China for over a year, there are quite a lot of funny habits that I’ve picked up and even funnier observations that I’ve made.

So, without further ado, you know you’re an expat in China when…

1) You constantly say phrases like “Hello”, “Thank you”, “What/Why?” etc. in Chinese to your native English-speaking friends and family 
2) You find yourself eating oatmeal and granola with chopsticks, even though you own spoons
3) It takes you 20+ minutes to buy each grocery because you can’t read the labels
4) You’re severely lacking in information from the outside world (but count your blessings that you have a VPN!)
5) You have forgotten all concepts of how to use cash or credit cards (since you pay for everything via phone apps!)

6) You have a name in at least two different languages  
7) You don’t flinch when your taxi drives into oncoming traffic

8) You talk to yourself out loud in public because you know it’s likely no one can understand you 

9) You can wear a turtleneck in 40C weather and not sweat to death

10) Eggs and tomatoes is your favourite meal

11) You carry a packet of tissues everywhere you go (because most public bathrooms don’t have toilet paper!)  
12) You know what your best angle is on web camera and where the best lighting in your apartment is

You try baking things in your rice cooker  
14) You are very willing to pay for expensive Western-food meals

15) You realise just how much you took bread for granted before moving here

16) You can’t count without subconsciously using all of the hand gestures too

17) You no longer notice random strangers taking photos of you in public
You really miss central heating (if you live in Southern China)  
In three guesses or less, you can name the profession of every expat in the room (Teacher, student, trade, am I right?)
You’ve been to countless leaving parties for friends who ‘went back home’

From USA to United Arab Emirates

Expat in UAE

Sandrakayallen is Sandy from USA (Miami) living in Abu Dhabi, UAE. As a newbie in the expat life, Sandy’s perspective is all SO TRUE!!! It’s so much fun watching all her stories and adventures. Especially, when she mentions and shows camels. 🙂

Sandy starts her contribution with the below sentence. And I love it!

“I still feel so new at this expat life… maybe I don’t even know I am one yet!

1) The most important apps in your phone are the ones that connect you to your people back home.
2) The most practical apps in your phone your phone are a GPS map navigator and a currency converter
3) Every time you look at a clock you mentally calculate what time it is “back home
4) You spend entirely too much time reading food labels in the supermarket… and then comparing the brands you buy to the ones you like “back home.”
5) You walk a lot because walking is the best way to explore new places. You look up and down and all around. You see things from a new perspective—mostly because you have a new perspective

6) You record what you see—whether in photos, videos, writing, or your memory—often with giddy excitement like a child seeing something for the very first time.
Before you buy anything, you ask yourself: Do I need it? Will I take it with me when I move? You learn that too many material things weigh you down and that new experiences are more valuable treasures
You talk to stray cats. (Okay, so maybe that one is just me.) I take pictures of them. I find it easier to make fast friends with cats than with people. If I get down to their level, they consider me a friend and they come to me to see what I have to offer. I’m learning that the same approach works with people.

9) You adapt, you assimilate, you grow. You think a lot about the things you miss “back home” but you have a growing list of things you like about where you are.
You have great appreciation for the phrase “home is where the heart is” and you strive to make your heart happy.

From Sweden to Italy

Expat in Italy

Sund_living is Malin from Sweden. She and her family recently made the move from London, to the breathtaking mountains in Lake Como, Italy. Malin sends in so many relatable ‘You know you’re an expat when….’ that speaks to the max of my inner – expat – core!

Malin writes,

“I’m Malin from Sweden.
Four years ago my husband got a job in London. I quit my job and we moved with our two kids to London. When four years had past it was time for a new adventure and a new country. So in the beginning of this year we moved to Italy and lake Como. My husband works in Milan but we wanted to be closer to the nature and the mountains.

You know you’re an expat when……..

…..you realize that your new best friend is Google Translate!
Now when we moved to Italy the language is not as easy as it was when we moved to London. I don’t speak Italian and the Italians around here doesn’t speak English so that is a big challenge and Google translate comes in handy.

….. you are about to sit down on the taxi drivers side.
This was after maybe two years in London (where the traffic is on the left) when my children and I will be taking a taxi from the airport in Stockholm. I have a coffee in my hand, bags and two kids. The driver is kind and helping me putting the bags in the trunk. The kids goes in the back seat and I start to walk around the car, open the door and are just about to sit down when my daughter says; “Mum you’re not driving are you?!” The driver is standing and watching me and I start to explain in English that we leave in London quickly realize that he obviously speaks Swedish. Do I need to mention that the kids were embarrassed?

….. you spend hours in the grocery shop trying to find the right ingredients for the dinner that your kids love.
That’s always a challenge when you move to a new country. Finding the food and the brands you like. Trying to find similar ingredients so you can cook your kids favorite dish.

…..you meeting new friends thru social media.
I met a girl for lunch after we’ve texted on a Facebook group. That would never have happened in Sweden. In Sweden you have your old friends from school, friends from work or thru your kids.

….. you get super excited to find a Swedish brand in the shop even if you normally wouldn’t eat it in Sweden.
In London we had a Swedish shop close to we’re we leaved. We always went there to buy things just because it was Swedish. Now when I leave in Como I can’t find Swedish brands so when I went to the supermarket and found crackers from Wasa (Swedish brand) I got super excited and bought it even if I normally don’t eat it. “

From USA to Chile

Expat in Chile

It’s all smiles with American Brandybell117. Brandy is exploring all-the-things in South America. By filling her days with nature, festivals and gastronomy delights in Chile. She’s doing it all. From #WineWednesdays, to #GoatsofInstagram, her expat life will have you booking a trip to Chile in no time. Brandy’s ‘You Know You’re an Expat When…..

You have different time zones listed on your clock app so you can easily check the time where your friends and family are.

You’ve let go of having a personal bubble. This doesn’t seem to be much of a thing in Chile, and rush hour on the metro is the absolute worse. There are usually about six people touching you at any given moment.

You think about weight and space with everything you buy, since you’ll probably move soon and you can’t take everything with you. You also start to think that all your friends back home are hoarders.

You speak a mixture of languages and start forgetting words in your native language.

You’re weirded out when Americans want to eat dinner at 6 pm. That’s basically late afternoon, and dinner should be eaten at NIGHT.

You buy Kraft Mac & Cheese whenever you get the chance since you can longer purchase it from your local grocery store. The simple, cheap meal I used to take for granted is now something I seriously crave. I always bring back at least three boxes from the States (typically the three-cheese if I can get it), but I’ve also brought it back from other countries. I found it at a grocery store in Colombia and somehow made room for three boxes in my travel backpack.

You miss Taco Bell. There was no Taco Bell when I lived in Ecuador, so when I traveled to Madrid from Ecuador, I actually went to Taco Bell there. Don’t worry, I still got my fill of tapas, but I couldn’t resist stopping for a 7-layer burrito with Fire hot sauce.

From Canada to Australia

Expat in Australia

Isapaquette is Isa, who took a leap of faith when she moved from Canada, Brisbane Australia. She’s such an inspiration for making the giant move! She’s also taking part in her first 3 km ocean swim! Go Isa!! I’m virtually cheering for you from the sidelines in Singapore 🙂 Learn more about Isa and her expat experience on her blog, IsaPaquette.

Isa writes, You know you’re an expat when….

You have to make a video of yourself every time a friend has a birthday.

It’s good to know my friends from “home” haven’t forgotten all about me. I still get invited through Facebook to the major events in their lives: birthdays, engagements, baby showers, etc. But I can rarely make it (obviously). Instead, I am asked to record a short video wishing *insert event type wishes* to them. I think it’s really sweet, but also… I hate recording videos of myself 

You are so fluent in your native and adopted language that you don’t even know in which the conversation is happening!

Whenever we go to Canada or hang out with my Frenchie friends, I kinda loose track of what language we are having the conversation in. Sometimes, I end up “translating” a conversation to my partner when that conversation was already in English .”

From England to South Korea

Expat in South Korea

Stampette_x is Em. She is from England and living a beautiful life in South Korea. By the looks of her IG, she is enjoying the landscapes in South Korea and getting some breathtaking views. It makes me want to go hike, especially during the Fall season.

Em’s, you know you’re an expat when

1) When you don’t know clothing or shoe sizes in the country you were born
When you mix languages
When you automatically curse in the other language
When you live in a small town in a homogenous country and you find a foreigner
When you have multiple pictures in traditional clothing
When you know the subway and buses better than locals

7) When you are called a foreigner in a homogenous country so you call all other non natives foreigners too
When you go abroad (or even to the capital city) and you see so many ‘foreigners’
When you have a personal customs number
10) When you go home or are visited by friends and family and they are confused by the mannerisms you have adopted

When you remember the time difference and respect it but no one calling or messaging you does!
Oh and:
12) When you learn to make food from home from scratch because you can’t find it.”

From USA to France

Expats in France

French.with.a.southern.accent is Kaitlynn, an American expat from South Carolina, USA. Kaitlynn lives in the Auvergne region of beautiful France with her hubby, their sweet little baby boy and furbaby. To find out more about Kaitlynn’s expat adventures and their jaunts around Europe, check out her website, FrenchWithaSouthernAccent.

Kaitlynn’s, you know you’re an expat when …..

1.You’ll eat anything put in front of you

Cow brains, duck heart, pigs feet you name it I’ve probably eaten it, and I usually like it.

2. You’re a boss at driving and parking

In America, I always thought I was a pretty good driver, and I was such a pro at whipping my big SUV into a parallel parking spot. However, after driving in Europe, I realized I was such an amateur. Living here has created a whole brand new set of skills in driving. I can park my station wagon into the tiniest of spots between concrete walls, and navigate any odd roundabout or confusing intersection- believe me there’s a lot of them in Europe.  

3. You can automatically convert celcius to farenheit in your head.

From figuring out what to wear on my morning run to what to set the oven to while making dinner, this is an essential skill to being an expat.

4. You come back from America with a whole suitcase of contraband.

It’s very common in our expat community to send out a message in our group chat saying, “I’m in America and headed to Target tomorrow. What do you need?” People request things such as Franks Red Hot, ranch packets, deodorant, and allergy medicine that they can’t get here in France.

5. You mentally prepare yourself for the possibility of strikes anytime you travel.

My family and I have learned to navigate plane, train, bus, ground crew, even ski lift strikes. It’s just a way of life, and you learn to always have a plan B if a strike arises.

6. People are shocked when you offer to help them.

I grew up in the south where you respect your elders and always help others in need.  Here in France, I’ve tried to help a mom unload groceries from her cart with a brand new baby in her arms and offered my train seat to an elderly woman to name a few. Anytime I try to help, people are  shocked and a little sceptical about my intentions. Because pick pocketing and robberies are common here, the majority of people are always on guard regardless of circumstance. Nevertheless, I still offer to help because it’s the right thing to do, even if they think I’m crazy.

Read Expat Dream Team Round 1 | 64 Unwritten Rules in 14 Countries | given to you by Expats From Around the World.

As an expat, I find many of these so relatable. Are you too, an expat or know of one, two or many? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Outdoor enthusiast thriving in the expatriate traveling lifestyle. Looking to connect with your sense of adventure.


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