Sabrina Zirakzadeh

I’m Sabrina, a first-generation (Guatemala and Iran) US citizen originally from Colorado currently living in Osaka, Japan. I grew up traveling to see family around the world and first became an expat at 22 in 2009 while getting my master’s degree in Popular Music Studies over two years in Glasgow, Scotland, where I met my future wife. Due to the difficulty of us being together on the same continent once my student visa finished (as this was before same-sex marriage equality passed in both the UK and the US), we decided to try finding work abroad together, and in 2012 I moved to rural Okayama prefecture in Japan as part of the JET Programme, with my wife joining me 6 months later. After my time on JET was finished, we moved to Osaka to pursue more relevant careers to our interests, and this summer will be my 9th year in Japan and 12th year living as an expat!
Being a “non-American-looking” American in the UK and Japan has presented me with some unique challenges, and being in a same-sex, binational marriage in a country that does not recognize it, as well as developing a rare and intractable dangerous illness since arriving has given me some experiences that I would honestly prefer not to have had. However, living in the UK and Japan has also given me the ability to pursue my dreams in ways I might not have had in the USA. In Japan, I’m using my skills as a musician to teach music for immersion school programs in Osaka while also performing for events, doing voice-over work at Universal Studios Japan and for textbook and transportation companies, and even working on independent films and other productions. It’s been exciting to go from university Japanese class-level to native-level Japanese, and joining a Japanese Spanish conversation group has been a wonderful way to meld parts of my culture with my new life here. 
My wife and I are currently preparing to leave Japan next summer, so we’re learning a lot about the repatriation/immigration process in the US and UK, as well as immigration proceedings in other countries where we aren’t citizens but qualify for spousal visas. Following in my family members’ footsteps and uprooting myself to live in places where I have minimal shared culture or language to immerse myself in something new has been an amazing experience and I’m not sure I’m ready for it to end, but after a year and a half enduring the pandemic in Japan, it’s time to move on. Still, I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything, and I hope to maintain these connections no matter where we end up next!

Luisa Matatolu

Bula everyone! I’m Lulu and this is my first time curating the @WeAreXpats account. I have been an expat since I was 16, and I am excited to be curating this week from Scotland where I live with my husband. I miss the beaches and the tropical weather of the islands where I grew up, but I am finding a new love for the great expanse of the rich greenery & beautiful lochs here in the highlands. I hope to share a bit about my expat life so far and tell you more about my island home and my current home-away-from home.

Gary Dickenson

Hi I’m Gary and together with my wife, Gita, and daughter, in December 2018 we left the UK to come to Gita’s family homestead here in north Latvia. We live not far from the Estonian border and It’s somewhere nowhere in the middle of a forest in a house built by Gita’s grandfather.

With a long background in marketing and being stuck behind a desk we now have a very different outdoors life growing nearly all our veg and getting into animal husbandry, we’ve already raised pigs and will be getting chickens this year.

In addition we manage about 150 acres of our own forest. It’s all new to me, until I arrived here I’d barely grown anything but somehow we’ve made it so far. We’ve documented much of our progress on our YouTube channel which you can find by searching for Baltic Homesteaders.

Nuwan Rez

Hi everyone! My name is Nuwan. From Sri Lanka all the way to Germany, I have arrived via many exciting paths. Having grown up on an island, I miss the sea very much living in Frankfurt, but make up for it in other ways, especially by riding my motorbike through the more rural German country roads. I am a father of two, a husband, and work from home – can’t go back to an office job!

This is my second time curating the @WeAreXpats account, and having been an expat for a very long time (since I was 16), I hope to share with you a bit of the world, and my life at the moment.

Suzanne Scott

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I am Suzanne, a British married mother to 5 children who have now all fled the nest and are getting married and having babies themselves. My husband and I started our expat journey in January 2011, moving to South Africa where I worked as a volunteer and I continue to support various projects. We moved to Dubai in December 2014 with a cat and dog in tow. The cat and dog relocated to the UK in February 2020 and are looked after by neighbours and house sitters while I’ve travelled between there and Dubai when covid has permitted. We’re now preparing to relocate to the UK full time in June when my husband retires. I’m on all social media channels as Chickenruby.

Carme Mont

Hola! My name is Carme and I am a catalan from Barcelona. When I was 22 I moved to Sweden for an Erasmus exchange as part of my Psychology degree. I deeply enjoyed meeting people from many countries and making great friends. I moved back to Barcelona and left again four years after, theoretically to spend only six months doing research as an academic visitor at Oxford. I ended up staying in the UK for seven years, later on moving to Cambridge and living shortly in London. About three years ago my husband (from Australia) and I relocated to California, US.

Tracey Gemmell

Hello! I’m Tracey, a British novelist focusing on trip fiction and the search for home. Why? Because I struggled to stay put in England during my youth. I blame my father’s passion for cars and driving. This meant I’d seen the whole of Europe over the top of my mother’s beehive hairdo by the time I blew out my sixteenth birthday candles. At least it helped with the geography ‘O’ Level.
I became a professional horse rider, a great way to travel the world if you don’t mind backbreaking work, early hours and physical risk. Stints in France and all over the USA followed, hence the adage, ‘have pitchfork, will travel’. But what was intended to be a short interlude from British life, more a lark than a well-planned life decision, turned into something else: an expat life. Home became everywhere and nowhere. Even though I spent most of my adult life living all over the USA – marrying an American there, raising children there, becoming a speech-language pathologist there, travelling the world from there – I just couldn’t shake a constant niggle my roots needing replanting firmly and deeply in England. Yep. Hiraeth knocketh at the door. What to do? What to do?
Return home after thirty years away during a pandemic, of course! Brilliant idea! When we sold our US house in early 2020, no one imagined our repatriation would get mired in closed visa offices, closed real estate markets, closed pet transport companies, and … well, you name it, if we needed it to move back to England it was closed. One hundred and thirty-nine days. That’s how long my husband remained trapped in a US hotel after I left through empty airports on an empty flight to search for somewhere to live in England. We were finally reunited in October, now living in the beautiful Exmoor National Park. Then, lockdown after lockdown. It’s been an interesting time to attempt a new life as a repat.

Does my English home still exist after thirty years? Only one way to find out …
Join me at www.traceygemmell.com or on twitter, Facebook, IG, and LinkedIn

Rong Hua

Hi All, Hallowies, 大家好!

I’m Rong Hua, born in Haarlem, North Holland province and can claim “I am from Holland”, The Netherlands. Haarlem has been the historical centre of the tulip bulb-growing district for centuries and bears its other nickname ‘Bloemenstad’ (flower city) for this reason. As a teenager, our family moved to Gouda, South Holland province, famous for its Gouda cheese, stroopwafels and smoking pipes. Became an entrepreneur, restaurant owner, in between lived for a year in The Hague, royal capital, government seat, and International Court of Justice. In the meantime, raising a family, sold my business and moved closer to my husband’s work and choose Leiden. Little did we know then that our stay would be very short. It houses the oldest university in the country Leiden University, famous for science, arts. Home to world-renowned painter Rembrandt. But also international visitors like John Adams, one of the founding fathers of America. I like to mention this historical fact because I only found out after I moved back to Leiden.

Moved back? Before 2000, my husband, Leshen, received an offer as a Telecommunication project manager destination Taiwan. One year contract. Without blinking, I packed up our stuff with four kids and followed him into an adventure, discovering our ancestral roots to live in Asia, Taipei here we come! We embarked on a family journey, calling Taipei home first; after that, Singapore and New Delhi followed. We were calling southeast-Asia home for ten years. We moved back to Leiden, discovering the city and reconnecting. The first few years we were still travelling up till three years ago we’ve opened a ‘Gastrohome’. A hybrid bar-restaurant is serving comfort food with authentic flavours from Sichuan, Guangdong cuisine. Next to introducing popular dishes from our travels through the southeast-Asian region.

As an expatriate/repatriate, I understand the struggles of living abroad and coming home. Therefore, I have become active in the local International community. Diversity is the best and makes life colourful and exciting, with so many things to learn and discover. So many stories to share, information to exchange, life discovery enjoyed together. In our
small community hub we host meetups for now online but hopefully soon we will meet again.
Twitter @Asianfoodtrail
FB/IG @Hotspotcentralleiden

Anguah Abbey

My name is Anguah Abbey. I am a children’s book author and editor. I lived in The Netherlands with my kids for about 4 years until we moved to Ghana in 2019. I edit textbooks for public schools and ran a publishing team in Accra.
Moving to Netherlands and then back to Ghana changed my perspective about so many social issues. I have two kids who had their formative years in Netherlands but are growing up in Ghana. 
When I’m not editing or writing children’s books, I like to be a bit of a social butterfly. It’s a bit difficult to do that in recent times though. 

Tom Beck

As a Technical Writer for a German software company, I moved from my hometown of London to Potsdam in September 2017 to further my career with them. Though I’ve previously worked in Belo Horizonte and New York for short periods, this is my first permanent relocation and, along with my wife Yvonne, we’re the only members of our family currently living outside the UK.

Having only previously been to Potsdam for my job interview, I was surprised to find that it’s much more than the suburb of Berlin that it seems on a map. It has a rich history, for good and bad reasons, incredible nature and vast amounts of water, and an entirely different atmosphere from the capital city up the road.
When I’m not working, I’m a keen runner, avid football and ice hockey fan, and can often be found with the latest punk-rock album in my ears.