{EXPATRIATED} Edna from Expat Edna

Friday 8 February 2013

Sometimes I get the impression that people think we are crazy for leaving all that we are familiar with for a life abroad but we aren't the only ones who have chosen this lifestyle.  In fact, there are a lot of us and many of us blog about it.  Expatriated is a series to introduce you to other expat bloggers.

I'm so excited to introduce you to Edna today.  Edna's blog, Expat Edna, is fascinating.  She blogs about her many travels and I love her series' "The 5 Best Thing I Ate" and "I Love My Neighbourhood" where she features neighbourhoods all around the world.  I find it so interesting to see where people call home.  (Perhaps you remember, I was featured not long ago - check it out here.)

Where are you from and where do you live now?
I'm from Pennsylvania, USA, and I live in Paris at the moment.

How did you end up in Paris and what inspired you to make the move?
I’m a serial expat addicted to living abroad, so Paris is actually my fourth city as an expat. I first moved when I was 18, and relocate to a new city every year or so. I lived in two different cities in China, then went to Singapore for a year and a half, after which I moved to Paris (via a five-week stint in Australia).

As for why Paris -- I'd started building a bit of a career in sports media while I was in Singapore, so when I left I began looking for a Francophone country to move to next (knowing French is helpful in the field, so I wanted to learn the language). The timing worked out perfectly, I was contacted almost immediately by a Parisian employer who wanted to bring me in and I moved just over a month later. So I didn't actually choose Paris; Paris chose me.

What is the best part of living overseas?
Immersion in another culture and language. Meeting like-minded people (it takes a certain type of person to choose the expat life, after all). Having a fantastically convenient international travel base. Making friends from all over the world -- I wouldn't have met my fiance if I hadn't moved abroad. And of course, I love being able to try a ridiculous amount and variety of local cuisines.

What do you miss most about home (besides friends & family?)
I miss my parents' cooking (homemade Chinese food is a thousand times better than anything you'll find in a restaurant), and not much else. Thanks to globalization, the few things I do miss I can actually still find abroad -- it may cost three times as much, but at least it's available.

That said, I do miss the cheddar biscuits at Red Lobster sometimes.

What has been the most difficult thing to adjust to in Paris?

The lack of chaos, bright colors, and skyscrapers. I need that big city freneticism, that hustle and bustle, those towering buildings of glass and steel -- so Paris doesn't do it for me. I'm probably one of the few people who actually likes going out to La Defense -- but it's the only place in Paris I can see skyscrapers.

Any funny 'whoopsies' while adjusting to your new life?
I've been pretty lucky so far; I haven't had any trouble adjusting to any of the cities I've moved to. The one 'whoopsie' I can think of was when I first moved to Paris, I didn't know a word of French -- so I once said "dix-six" instead of "seize" while giving directions to a taxi driver (in English that'd be like saying 16 as "ten-six" instead of "sixteen").

Saving graces?
I'm not going to say technology, because that's a given.

Thinking back to my first expat stint -- China in 2008, before social media was huge -- I'm so glad I joined the local Gaelic fooball team. It kept me fit, introduced me to an awesome new social circle (who I still keep in touch with), and playing in the national tournaments left me with some of my favorite adventures and stories to date.

What is the biggest lesson you've learned from your time abroad?
This (the whole expat experience, not just Paris) is where I’m meant to be. Some people just aren’t meant to settle down in their home country, or settle down at all -- and the longer I stay abroad, the more countries I move to; the more I realize that this is exactly what I’m meant to be doing. This is my happiness. I don't need stuff to make me happy -- I just need to be abroad.

If you had the chance to move elsewhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Ireland. Hands down. I’m a total hibernophile -- you caught that bit about me learning Gaelic football in China, right? I also studied Irish history and Gaelic literature in college. I've visited a few times but would love to step it up to expat. One day I'll get there.

I've yet to make it to South America though, so that's definitely on my radar as well.

Any advice for the newly expatriated?
It makes me sad to hear new expats immediately start comparing and complaining about how things are better in [home country] or how they miss [trivial item from home country]. Nobody wants your superiority complex, not the other expats and certainly not the locals. Just appreciate that you have an opportunity to experience a life-changing adventure and make the most of your time abroad!

Oh--- and if you can, join a Gaelic football team.


Thank you Edna!

I think her advice is some of the best I've heard!

You can check out her blog here - and while you are at it, take a look at her experiences covering the London 2012 Olympics.  How cool is that?

If you haven't already, I'd love for you to take a second and respond to the poll on the right sidebar.  


  1. Great post Edna - I always love hearing your back story. Inspiration for us all to follow our dreams!

    1. She certainly is an inspiration!

      Hope you have a great weekend, Alex!

    2. Aw thanks guys!

  2. Love Edna!!! I need to take you to SA darling!

    1. I would love that! I'm definitely looking you up whenever I finally get down there!

  3. Love Edna's post! And if her biggest "faux pas" is saying ten-six instead of sixteen, I think she's doing wonderfully at French! Can't believe that she also was able to cover the London Olympics; lucky girl! Thanks for sharing her story.


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