Kelly Merks

Hi, I’m Kelly Merks — the creator and fairy godmother of @WeAreXpats! I am curating for the first time to celebrate the third birthday of the RoCur and to share in the experience with my beloved community.

Most of my life has been spent in south-central Texas in cities along the major vehicular vein of Interstate 35. I grew up in San Antonio, a large city with a strong cultural identity despite the human flux that accompanies the four U.S. military bases in its city limits. I was living in Austin when I was accepted to the JET Program. My longtime boyfriend and I decided to get married, and two weeks after our wedding we relocated to the northern Tokyo suburb of Saitama.

Living in Japan was my dream; I had visited a couple years before for the first time and knew I had to return and stay for a while. Just before leaving the U.S., I had earned a Master’s in Applied Geography and was offered a job with a local NGO that would have been in line with what I wanted to do professionally. I abandoned the beginning of a career in a field I had worked hard to curate my own niche in. That’s crazy talk for many people, but living in Japan satisfied me so deeply, as if I was scratching a cosmic itch only I knew how to get at.

We spent 3 and half years in the Tokyo area before Clint was offered a job in The Hague. The timing was good, and the opportunity to work and live in Western Europe was too great to pass on. It’s difficult for Americans to break through the sleek exterior that is the European Union and its visa requirements (namely that you be an EU citizen). If you ever get the opportunity to do the same, seize it!

We relocated from Japan to the Netherlands in March 2015. The Hague is just the right size for us. We can bike across the city in half an hour, and the population size and density is not overwhelming. We don’t know how long we will live here, but for now, it’s exactly where we are supposed to be.