Flavia Giuffra

Hi there! I’m Flavia. A few of you past curators may remember me as Project Coordinator for @WeAreXpats. After more than a year behind the scenes, I’m so excited to be having a go at curating this week!

Born and raised in Lima, Peru, I’ve now been an expat for a little over seven years. I left at age 19 to go to university in London. Upon finishing my three years of school, I went back home for a brief period before moving to Amsterdam to do a Master’s degree in 2018. I loved it, and it quickly became home. Along came COVID, and I wasn’t able to visit home for a full year and a half until I got my vaccine a couple of months ago and I booked a ticket to Lima. Now, I’m currently staying in Nashville, Tennessee, for the time being. Thankfully, I’ve been able to continue with all of my Amsterdam commitments remotely. This week, I’ll take you along  as I’m adjusting to this new, very different place that’s not quite yet feeling like home – but I’m hopeful!

Rachel Paterson

Hi, I’m Rachel, I’m 34, Scottish, gay, ace, and ADHD, and I live in Japan with my American wife. 

I grew up in Scotland, in the north and in Greater Glasgow, after obtaining a mild English accent from my birthplace of Plymouth. I studied Zoology at Dundee University, hoping to go into labwork, maybe ensuring ethical treatment of lab animals or maybe teaching science.

In 2010, I met my now-wife when she was an international student in Glasgow. It was hard to actually be in the same country after her studies were over, so we looked into how to get to Japan individually, as we shared an interest in living there. We moved in together in Japan in 2013! First in Okayama, now Osaka, and hoping to move to America now that we are married. We keep parakeets, and we love travelling Japan (when possible!), especially discovering its many small islands.

In Japan, I’ve been an ALT in more than 10 public schools, a conversation school teacher, a preschool/kindergarten teacher twice, and now I’m an elementary (3rd grade) homeroom teacher in an immersion English program, where I teach ELA, Science(!!), IT and Maths.

I was diagnosed with ADHD within a year or two of moving to Japan. Being treated for it in Japan wasn’t easy. There are a ton of hoops, but I’m finally on a medication that works, after 7 years of fighting!

I really like cake decorating! I started a small business making cakes, cupcakes and cookies for friends and customers.
In my spare time, when I can find it, I enjoy embroidery, movies, and binge-viewing British comedy and Drag Race.

I’ve gone from a little-known town in the Scottish Highlands to the second largest city in Japan, and I can’t wait to see where the world takes me next! 

Raphaelle Belin-Nes

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Hi! I’m Raphaelle, 35, I am French and I live in Hamburg, Germany. 

It’s hard to determine exactly where my expat life began – do you count stints abroad beyond a certain duration? When you’re on a specific visa status? When you start receiving mail, paying taxes, being on first name basis with a bartender? In short, I’ve been abroad on and off for most of my adult life. During my studies as a mechanical engineer, I used as many of my internships and summer classes as possible as opportunities to see other countries – the US, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia. Then during my master’s degree, I had the opportunity to spend a full year in Japan working as a junior engineer for a Japanese company. It would have been a full Japanese immersion experience hadn’t I met my future husband then – a Dutchman doing the same thing as me. After we finished our degrees in our respective countries, he followed me to South Korea where I worked, traveling all over East Asia for 2 years and change. After a while we felt ready to “go back” to Europe, wherever that would be – and Hamburg is where we happened to both get job offers. I had absolutely no preconceptions about the city, and it turned out to be a wonderful surprise. We’ve been in Hamburg for 11 years now, and our daughter was born there 4 years ago. 

Darnielle Sarjant

Hoi. I’m Darnielle Sarjant. On the last day of January in 2016, my highly skilled migrant husband and I boarded my very first international flight in New Zealand to move to the Netherlands, a country that’s less than a day’s drive away from the exact antipodal point of my hometown. Truly the other side of the world!

I feel like I’m somewhat of an atypical expat in that I don’t live in a major/international city (Ede), and not long after we arrived, I knew I was more of an immigrant than an expat. It didn’t feel nearly as strange and out of my comfort zone as I had expected. It felt like home. I am also disabled, which is a challenge in and of itself, but I get the added bonus of navigating the Dutch healthcare system!

I have degrees in psychology and education, but due to my disability, I can only work sporadically as what I like to call a digital multihyphenate. Which is really just a fancy term for “has computer with internet connection, can do cool/helpful stuff with it”. But more importantly, I am a stay-at-home mum to two dogs (Moose and Caribou) and a mischief of pet rats.

I look forward to sharing my experience with you this week!

Jennifer Johnson

Hey there, I’m Jennifer! I’m 32 years old and I’ve been living in Germany since December 2019. I originally moved to Gottingen and recently (two days ago, as I write this) moved to Berlin. I’m from Madison, WI and I have a masters degree in public policy. I have been volunteering & working in Wisconsin politics related positions since 2008, and have continued in Germany by working remotely for a Wisconsin based political organization. I’ve also recently joined Democrats Abroad and am looking forward to helping organize Wisconsin voters throughout the world during upcoming elections! I spend my spare time in Germany fostering dogs from France, taking long walks/runs, and meeting my friends for coffee and drinks!
PS: I’m not usually broadcasting my American status in Germany, but this photo was from 4th of July and I was excited to celebrate my country not being a total political disaster for the first time in four years (post-Trump)!!

Ben Clifford

Hi, I’m Ben. I left England when I was 19 to study abroad and kinda got stuck being a bit of a nomad after that – I’ve lived in Los Angeles and Utrecht, and a lot of the time in between I’ve spent remote working from wherever seemed interesting at the time. I did spent the last 7 years back in London though, which was an interesting experience of being in a new environment that was also familar from much earlier in my life. Right now, I’m in Berlin and have been here for 8 months. It was a bit of a random pick of wanting to move to a European city, without a strong preference of which one – but I’m pretty happy with how that choice turned out.

Stephanie Fuccio

This is my third time curating for WeAreXpats and I am thrilled to be back. I am now in the capital of Albania, which is Tirana. Albania is a small country just over the Adriatic from southeastern Italy (we are a ferry side away from Bari) and just above Greece. I’ve been a serial expat for the majority of the past 17 years, with a lot of that time in Asian countries (China, Vietnam, Japan, etc). In early 2020 my husband and I went from China to Germany in an attempt to find work and spent as long as we could there (I’m avoiding saying the term “settle down.”) Covid hit, the job market froze and our visas ran out. We flew 2-½ hours to Albania to regroup and plan whatever was to come next. Many things have happened since we came to Albania in October 2020 and I will share those with you during my curation. 

I’m a multi-passionate creative with a few key spokes in her podcast life. I’m a Freelance Podcast Editor, produce & host all of the podcasts in the Geopats Podcast Network and run a podcast sharing event on Twitter called Podcast Review Day (#PodRevDay). Our next event is on July 8th, during my curation week. Hurrah! I love to share what I learn about podcasting in writing, on the socials and in video calls with new Podcasters.

There’s heaps of info on my projects, publications and services at www.stephfuccio.com. I love hearing from people about the expat experience, podcasting, books and so much more. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

Jodi Mølgaard

Hi, I’m Jodi. I’m originally from Hastings, on the south coast of England. 5 years ago, a chance meeting with a Danish girl while on a trip to Copenhagen changed my life. She thought I’d get on with her brother, so she asked him to contact me. Long story short, a year later, I moved to Denmark to live with him and now we’re married. So now I live with him in Skagen, a beautiful town at the northernmost point in Denmark. I’ve worked as a cleaner here for the last 4 years while I’ve learnt Danish, but am now looking into options for a more long-term career. 
I’m loving living by the sea again, after a 10 year period living and working in landlocked London. One of my favourite things to do is go for a walk on the beach at sunrise, and there are some spectacular sunrises here. 
I’m mum to one grown-up son, who lives in England, and stepmum to a 9-year-old boy.

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.