Alexa Quiles-Bergmans

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Hola a todos! Hallo allemaal! My name is Ale and I am a recent arrival in the incredibly contrasting and eclectic city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Originally from Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico, I relocated to NL with my husband after living together in Prague, Czech Republic, for two and a half years.

When I was studying my Bachelor’s in Mexico I participated in an exchange programme in Prague and fell madly in love with the city, so I decided to come back for my Master’s degree in 2018. Couple of months after arriving back in Prague, I met who would become my future husband… a Dutchie from Rotterdam –and, a couple of years later, here I am! Have you guys tried getting married, planning an international move and starting life from scratch in the middle of a pandemic and lockdown measures? Life takes some, um… unexpected turns sometimes –to say the least!

Nevertheless, I am very happy to start experiencing a new country and culture. I have always wanted to travel the world, learn different languages, see impressive architecture and discover new smells, sounds and –above all– flavors! Both my husband and I enjoy cooking (and eating!) very much, and we are very fortunate to live in a city full of diversity –that means that there’s a whole world of different things to try. From all kinds of Moroccan spices and Turkish kumpir, to Surinamese food and –yes, of course—loads and loads and LOADS of delicious, rich, gooey Dutch cheese. But… the best part for me? The Mexican community in NL is so big that I can find all kinds of Mexican ingredients and food to very successfully tame my homesickness (yay!).

Speaking of homesickness: by this point I consider myself more of an immigrant than an expat, as we don’t have plans to relocate to Mexico, but a bit a fun fact about me is that both of my two sisters have found love in the Netherlands and moved here. Yup, that’s 3 out of 3… Moving to a new country but knowing that I’ll be surrounded by family is, I gotta say, one of the most wonderful coincidences of my life.

However, I like to think of myself as not having one single home. I carry Mexico and the Czech Republic in my heart, and now my third home –the Netherlands. I think that makes me very lucky.

Shakti Hannie

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Hi, I’m Shakti and at the moment I am not a true expat as I am living in my birth country. Having grown up in different countries during my childhood, some may call me a third culture kid (TCK). I consider myself a cultural chameleon, enjoying adding more colours to my life by interacting with
other cultures and travelling to unknown and familiar places across the globe.
My name, Shakti Hannie, half Indian and half Dutch, that’s where I grew up as a child. As an adult I lived in UK and USA for a couple of years and for a few months in Peru too…which instantly felt as home. Over the years I have noticed that I can call any place home as long as I am able to connect with like minded people or people who are open to mingling with others and set aside their prejudices. I consider this is a trait common to third culture kids, expats and cultural chameleons.
I’ve travelled to Australia, Vietnam, South Korea, Mongolia, Iceland, Uzbekistan, Nicaragua, Argentina, Spain, Norway and many more. Each place has its own beauty and challenges. Currently I live in the Netherlands and have recently reinvented my career path. I have taken up my hobby as a writer and published my first novel which is about a girl growing up in different countries and seeing the world through intercultural mingling and trying to understand her own ‘belonging’. It’s called Colours of a Cultural Chameleon. Looking forward to meeting a few more cultural chameleons out there and sharing thoughts and day to day experiences. I am glad to curate for a week.

Twitter: @HannieShakti

https://shaktihannie.com/colours-of-a-cultural-chameleon-2/

Sean C.

Hi all, my name is Sean. Moving from Hollywood, California to rural Japan is probably not too dissimilar from landing on another planet. But here I am 4 years in, with no regrets whatsoever. I’m a marketing professional who had a stint in the music world as a recording engineer in Los Angeles. Now I spend much of my time with my US job (remotely) and also running my own English school. Any spare time is spent with my kids and various creative endeavors. I met my wife in LA, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves raising kids there.
While the big city has so much to offer, I had always imagined raising kids in the countryside. After several visits to Japan, visiting my wife’s family and seeing the difference in our children’s lifestyle, we decided to make the leap. It’s not entirely a life of sushi and sake (though that’s certainly part of it). There have been many challenges, some anticipated and some surprising. As I navigate these waters I hope to share my experiences with others. I hope you will reach out, ask questions, and share your thoughts with me.

John Sexton

Hi everyone. John here. I am a retired mechanical engineer (HVAC) and ex dive instructor with a keen interest in the sea, sailing, diving and nautical archaeological things. My catch-phrase is, “Find my dive bag and you have found me”

I was born and raised in Texas and am now in Portugal. The path has been anything but direct. I’ve always loved international travel and started early by going to Europe 3 times, Central America 8 times and the Caribbean a multitude of times in the ‘70s.

I ultimately heeded the expat call and left the US in ‘79 to go play…er…work in the Caribe for 5 years as your basic boat bum. After spending time in the Haiti, the BVI and the Turks & Caicos, I followed my (new) partner’s career to Indonesia for 2 years and Geneva for 2 years. Somehow, the following 17 years were spent in the Netherlands and culminated with a move back to the US for my mom. My last move was for an early retirement in Portugal 9 years ago.

To keep myself from being bored, I am part of a project group, Um Mergulho Na Historia, as the dive safety officer and photographer/videographer. I also volunteer with a local animal shelter taking dogs to the vet, picking up volunteers or taking dogs to the airport. Oh, and I love the wine here…

Melinda Gallo

Originally from California, I have been an expat for most of my adult life. I have lived in France, England, and Italy. For the past 16 years, Florence has been my home. 

My desire to live in France grew after I lived with two different families for a month after high school. My love of the country propelled me to major in French literature at university. I spent my junior year abroad in Lyon, France. After returning to the US to complete my studies, my primary goal was to return to France to live.

Many said it would be impossible to get a job overseas with no work experience, but that only made me even more determined. A month after graduating college, I met the CEO of a French software company. She told me she was looking for a native English-speaking technical support person to live in Paris where the headquarters were located. After spending one day at her company to speak with her and become acquainted with the software, she hired me. 

Five months after graduating college, I moved to Paris. I never imagined myself ever leaving Paris, but five years later I moved to England and worked as a freelance database developer. When my reason to be in England vanished, I wasn’t sure if I should return to Paris or travel somewhere.

The decision to come to Florence wasn’t mine. Initially, I dreamed of living in Italy for only a few months to learn the language and find my inspiration to write. I had been writing short stories and felt I needed more life experience. I imagined myself staying in Rome, Siena, or Venice for three months. However, a trip to the Italian Consulate in London changed that. The woman I spoke to convinced me that Florence would be a better choice
for me. Her reasons were so convincing that I searched for a school to take Italian lessons and left a month later.

Within three days of arriving in Florence, a powerful sensation of being home came over me. It was an unexpected feeling because I always felt I would return to Paris to live.

Living in different countries has enriched my life. Not only did I learn more about the locals, their culture, their language, and their country, but I also learned more about myself. 

After living overseas for many years, I have understood that diversity is what makes our world so beautiful. It is in embracing other people, languages, cultures, and countries that we enhance our lives.

IG/Twitter: @melindagallo

Noelle Batista

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Olá gente! My name is Noelle, I live in Sao Paulo, Brazil. and I am a freelance project coordinator with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business. I was born in Surinam but I have lived in the Netherlands for most of my life. I’ve also lived and worked in Germany and the USA. My entire life I have never really connected with any culture, it’s like every culture I grew up with – Dutch, Surinamese, American – I felt like I just couldn’t fully identify. In 2012 my fascination for the Brazilian Portuguese language began when I first listened to Brazilian music.
In 2019 I decided to spend 2 months in Brazil to take a language course. During my time there, it was like I found the missing puzzle piece. I had never felt so at home and I identified so strongly with the culture – the music, the dancing (I fell in love with forró), the kindness, the food! The way that Brazilians have this incredible zest for life just amazed me. I went back a couple more times to dance forró and see my friends. I met my treasure of a husband on one of my trips back to Sao Paulo. We spent 9 incredible days together and decided that when I came back to Brazil, we wanted to see how things would play out. We spent 3 months together in Sao Paulo, 2 of which in quarantine. There was an instant connection and we just knew this was it and didn’t want to be separated again for this long. We got married in the Netherlands this past August and I moved to Sao Paulo in September to stay indefinitely. We live in the south of the city, in our cute little house with one dog and three cats and I am loving my new expat life!

Andy Williams

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Hello, my name is Andy Williams and I am an American living in Italy. I’m a retired US government employee that lives in the northern Italian city of Bergamo. I was born in California but the last place I lived in America was Cheyenne, Wyoming. I have lived in Bergamo for 10 years with my Italian wife and our young daughter.  I always wanted to travel and was able to live in several countries during my career, in fact, I’ve only lived in America for three out of the past thirty years.  When I was working in Italy, I met my (now) wife and she told me if I wanted to stay with her, I would have to stay here, so after some complications and separations I was finally able to settle down and stay with her. We’ve been together 17 years now and married for 12. By now I consider myself more an immigrant than an expat since we’ve bought a house and have established our roots here. I’ve learned to love Italy, its charms and challenges and by now couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Ryan Levey

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Hey y’all, my name is Ryan and I am a Business Analyst who’s lived in the Netherlands for two years now. I was born in Connecticut but grew up all over the US – Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. After my bachelor’s, I moved to Bordeaux, France to pursue my Master’s degree in Supply Chain Management. I moved to Amsterdam because I had the opportunity to work for one of the top street brands and have been here since.

Carol Hawary

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My name is Carol El Hawary, I’m Scottish and I live in Cairo, Egypt. I moved here in 2015 to be with my Egyptian husband, who owns a tour company and hotel. I was working on a project for the Egyptian Ministry of Education, but that ended in April, so now I am setting up a tour company and writing a book. I have 6 rescued cats and we live in a suburb of Cairo called Mokattam.

JJ Walsh

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Joy (JJWalsh) grew up on Oahu (Hawaii), university in California, traveled around Asia and Europe and has had a long career in Japan teaching, consulting, writing, and creating online content. Joy is a long-time resident of Hiroshima city where she co-founded the website, map and magazine, GetHiroshima. After teaching business and tourism studies at the university level for more than twenty years, Joy launched her own sustainable tourism & business consultancy called InboundAmbassador in 2019. Since April this year, during the Coronavirus pandemic, Joy has transitioned to hosting a daily live multi-stream talkshow series – about sustainability in Japan – called Seeking-Sustainability-LIVE