Stephen Toole

My expat journey began later in life when I left Australia at the age of 27 and moved to Atlanta, GA, USA, to teach in public middle school. This experience was an easy step into the expat life and I am forever grateful to the wonderful people that I met during my time there. When I repatriated (a word I did not know back then), I never felt ‘right’ and just wanted to continue living overseas. During this six month stint back in Australia, I accepted a teaching job near my home town and was ready to set up life back ‘home’; however, as fate would have it an international school in China needed to hire staff half way through the school year and within three weeks of interviewing in January 2005, I was on a plane to Nanjing and I have never looked back. From China, I moved to Frankfurt, Germany where I met my wife (a TCK) and two of our three children were born. In 2015, we moved to Mumbai, India and in 2017 Imogen was born. Although there have been times where Mumbai has tested just about everything there is to be tested about living and working overseas, we have grown to love the city that our children call home.

In our ‘mixed up family’, home is hard to define. I am very much rooted in Australia as my parents and one of my brothers still live in the area that I grew up in, but the rest of my immediate family are not so sure. Jessica (my wife) grew up on the beach in PNG and moved to Brisbane, Australia, at age 11 and has lived less 1/3 of her life there. Our boys think they are from Germany, but have Australian passports (they have never lived there). Imogen is too little to understand, but her brothers call her ‘our Indian baby’. And to just confuse everyone a little bit more, we have purchased property in France and this will be ‘home’ in the summer and at Christmas.

Even after 18 years of living abroad, there are days when I think about going home to Australia; however, when I look out of my 9th story apartment window at the Arabian Sea I think, how lucky am I and there is nowhere else I’d rather be (for now).