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The Truth About Being an Expat


haircut photo

Me, a year ago, after haircut

When you put yourself out there in the online world, you open yourself up to feedback and sometimes feedback of the very harsh kind.

I actually had a conversation with someone a few months ago now who would like to ramp up her social media presence (because she’s got skills to share) but she doesn’t want to deal with any sort of negative feedback that comes from randoms on the Internet.

You can’t argue with her there. I’ve had plenty of feedback from randoms lately on my silly haircut video from a year ago. With surging hits that just topped 155,000 views, my inbox is starting to get regular emails from commenters saying stuff like:

  • “bitch, your psycho”
  • “get a life biatch”
  • “Ur dumb and ugly and why do u do that u don’t even now how to cut hair and ur hair is going to be ugly and uneven”

And these are just in the past two weeks! I definitely do not understand the people of YouTube who take the time to say nasty things or make ridiculous comments — and who do so without reading my explanation that would clearly explain why, how, etc. that’s right on the same page.

People are obviously super passionate about hair.

So passionate, in fact, that it makes them unable to read.

brooke at white cliffs

Brooke at White Cliffs

Just this morning, when I logged on to Twitter and saw a couple of my tweets, I remembered something else that people are passionate about.

When I wrote the post, “The Best and the Worst of the USA,” several months ago, the post went quickly viral on Stumbleupon. Within the first hour, I had 1500 stumbles that actually caused my site to crash (boo)! When I prepared this little post a while back, it got some very strong responses as well.

Why? Well, people are passionate about their country.

So passionate, in fact, that they fixate on one small comment, draw their own conclusion, and fail to actually read the whole story that might be laid out in perfect English before them.

I’m referring to a couple of comments I received on my latest post on, “5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Becoming an Expat in Australia.” They basically said I had a lame attitude towards Australia and had some nerve to bash the Aussie tax system and culture on Australia Day nonetheless.

After much consideration, I am sure they did not even read the article at hand. Silly people.

Comments like these are annoying, sometimes disheartening and can be harsh, but they did get me thinking: The people who made these comments have probably never lived as an expat because it seemed that those who had agreed with my sentiments completely.

So, I’m writing this post on the truth about being an expat, from my experiences, many of which have been shared with others in the same position.

* * * * *

darling river sunset

Sunset on the Darling River

People often think that just because I live down under that my life should be amazing and easy. Look, living down under has its perks, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to work, worry about money, go to the doctor, visit the dentist, pay bills and go to the grocery store. Just like everyone else, we have to deal with the annoying parts of life down under, too, so if you think that just by moving abroad that your life immediately becomes a dream, think again.

Truth: Life is still life.

It’s hilarious when a group of us expats get together because it often involves talking about something from back in the States that we miss. I went to dinner with a group of girlfriends recently and only one of them was Australian. The rest of us couldn’t help but bring up some of the little bits and pieces we so dearly miss from back home. It’s not like any of us are planning our returns to the USA anytime soon, but still we can’t help but get nostalgic.

Truth: There will always be things you miss.

When tax time rolls around, or when dealing with work restrictions or healthcare, it is easy to get flustered with the finer details involved with living abroad. Combine that with having to plan extra hard to visit family or keep in touch with friends, and that can be stressful.

Truth: Living abroad makes some tasks more complicated.

As you can see, the truth about being an expat is that it’s not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows… but, I will still suggest it to anyone because living abroad, no matter how difficult, is a fantastic learning experience that will change your life.



16 Responses to The Truth About Being an Expat

  1. Emily in Chile January 27, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Totally agree with your truths about being an expat AND your truths about being a blogger! I really like Chile, and I think that’s pretty clear in my blog, but one negative comment from me and the lurkers come out telling me how I’m a silly little girl who doesn’t understand Chilean culture and should just go home. Newsflash: I don’t think the US is perfect either. Calm down.

    • Brooke January 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

      Ha, why are people so rude? Even if you don’t understand it, wouldn’t it be wise to stick around to actually learn? Sounds so xenophobic on their part. Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. Laurel January 28, 2012 at 3:17 am #

    I could really relate to this post as a fellow expat. Many of my Canadian friends assume my day-day life in Germany is really exciting, when it’s rather normal – although I do travel a lot more than I did in Canada since everything is so much closer.

    • Brooke January 31, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

      I am definitely envious of Europe expats given the easy ability to travel to nearby countries! But yes, living abroad is living abroad. Thanks for reading!

  3. Alouise January 28, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    When you have an opinion on something someone is bound to disagree with it, but it’s unfortunate the people who disagreed with you on the expat article didn’t seem to take the time to actually understand what your were saying. To me it seemed like a pretty balanced post, I certainly didn’t get the impression that you had harsh criticisms with Australia.

    • Brooke January 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

      Thanks, Alouise — it’s amazing what people will take the time to say without fully understanding what they are saying it about.

  4. Kristin Repsher January 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    Completely agree with all of it — the random criticisms (especially on YouTube — I’ve gotten a few really rude ones on a video of a busker, of all things), the opinions that other people seem to have of expat life, and how expat life actually is. It would be so much easier if I didn’t have to order things online and find a way to get them shipped over…or if I could access websites without being blocked out because I’m not in America…or if I could just pick up the phone at night and call a friend (who is actually sleeping because it’s 5am). Through all that though, I still love Australia and am happy that I chose to move here because it has been a great learning experience (and great experience in general).

    • Brooke January 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

      Thanks, Kristin 🙂 REally… on a video of a busker? I really don’t understand YouTube…

  5. Jack Scott January 28, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    Expats are a funny lot – the mad, the sad, the glad and bad. My attitude is that it’s my blog, my opinion. Don’t like it? Don’t read it. Have something different to say? Start your own blog.

  6. Tony January 30, 2012 at 4:49 am #

    My dream would to be able to construct a life where I could be an expat. While life never stops throwing things at you while on the road or back in your home country, somehow being an expat just seems a little more freeing.

    People need to be less sensitive though… Life isn’t black and white. You can not like something specifically but still like it in general!

    • Brooke January 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

      I hope that you can make your expat dreams come true! Thanks for reading 🙂

  7. Tors January 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Adding my voice to the chorus of agreement with everything you’ve written. Quite frankly, I’ve met a few expats over the years who have genuinely crappy attitudes – everything sucks, Australia sucks, life sucks, and even the souveniers suck! It’s sad and it usually has nothing to do with the country itself but with their own life situation. Of course, you are SO not like that at all, but even if you were, absolutely no disrespect from me. Your blog, your opinions, and honestly, the bad is just as helpful as the good to people who are considering what will be a life-changing experience. Good on ya.

    BTW, there used to be a saying in the online discussion forum world, and it’s probably true of blogging, too: “You know you’ve made it when you start getting trolls!” hehe.

    • Brooke January 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

      Thank you for the comments and for being so open and understanding. We need more people like that on the internet 😉

  8. Erica January 30, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    “You’re not a real blogger until you have gotten flamed.”

    Luckily I haven’t had to deal with it much but I think that is the only thing I can hold on to when it comes to negative comments from people.

    • Brooke January 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Good point to focus on for sure!

  9. Elena January 31, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Great entry! Living in USA I do have occasional nostalgia about Moscow .. especially the parks, museums, theater, Russian banya tradition and pancake week.



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