The Expat Diaries: The Privilege of Being an Expat.

suitcaseThis is a slight deviation from my usual Expat Diaries posts, which I write with the hopes of shedding light on what it’s like to move abroad and inspiring other wild hearts to create their lives in the place that their soul yearns for.

But after reading this article, Why Are White People Expats When the Rest of Us Are Immigrants?, it got me thinking about the privilege of being able to up and move to a new country with a relative ease, so I felt obliged to comment on it.

The article raises the important point that the words “expat” and “immigrant” are loaded terms, steeped in assumptions about social class, country of origin, and economic status. You don’t hear politicians complaining about “the expat problem.”

Not only were there few barriers to my move to the UK, but there’s a whole class of visas that allows young Canadians to live and work in another countries for up to 2 years. And although applying for a long-term visa is both time-consuming and expensive, the colour of my skin and the country emblazoned on my passport are likely to make the process somewhat easier for me.

But why should these opportunities be available to me but not a similar woman born in a different country?

I understand that borders and laws and nations exist to make life easier. To provide order. To help keep us safe. But inherent in many of these laws are assumptions about who a person is because of the colour of their skin, where they were born, or how much money their family makes. Most of us like to think that we are immune to most prejudice, but the language we use can also perpetuate this kind of thinking.

This series would have a very different tone if it were titled “The Immigrant Diaries” – a word that suggest struggle and often poverty. Whereas the “word” expat suggests a certain romantic and luxurious lifestyle, even though its definition (a person who lives outside their native country) is almost identical to “immigrant” (a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country).

That’s not to say that either word is inherently bad or that I plan to stop using them, only that it’s important to think about the context surrounding our language and to be intentional with when and why we use it.

Certainly moving to the UK has had it’s share of difficulties but never have I had to deal with accusations that I’m stealing someone’s job or that I don’t belong here. When I do mention that I was born in Canada, it usually results in an even warmer welcome.

So today I just wanted to offer this gentle reminder of the privilege that comes alongside being an expat and that there is power in the words we use, so wield them wisely.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the article. Does it make you uncomfortable using the word expat?

Love, handwritten letters, & cross-country train rides,




P.S. What do YOU want to know about living abroad? Let me know and I’ll talk about it in a future post.

Photograph by Sarah C. Stanley.

The Expat Diaries: Do I sound British yet?

I realized I haven’t posted an accent update vlog recently, so I filmed one over the weekend to definitively answer the question: do I sound British yet? Take a look and let me know what you think…

You can check out my first accent video here and the second one here (apparently I like to change my hair colour for each one).

So I’d love to hear, do you think I sound any more British than I did before? And do you have any burning questions about being an expat?

Love always,

The Expat Diaries: What will you give up?

IMG_6082I haven’t written an Expat Diaries post in a while, but I want to get back to them this year.

Having lived in the UK for over a year now, being an expat doesn’t feel like something I have to figure out and navigate anymore. It’s my lived reality. Questions about how to set up a bank account or find a doctor no longer plague my mind and I’ve just settled into creating my life here.

There are still times when I don’t understand the slang or I get confused about a custom. People still often ask where I’m from. And now I’m navigating the waters of getting a long-term, more permanent visa.

But mostly I just live this expat life as my own. Reveling in the experience of seeing my dreams come to fruition and actively designing my lifestyle day-by-day.

And then something hits me upside the head and reminds me that becoming an expat isn’t all holidays abroad and afternoon teas.

It’s sacrifice and missing out, too.

Sometimes it’s just little things. Family dinners I can’t attend. Nights out I don’t get to enjoy. My stocking got lost in the post and it was the first year I’ve woken up on Christmas morning without one.

But there are bigger things too.

Not being there for my nephew’s first Christmas.

A friend’s wedding invitation slips through my letterbox and I know I’m unable to attend.

Another friend has a baby that I know I won’t meet until he’s nearly a year old.

IMG_6079Being an expat seems to make so many of life’s lessons even more poignant.

Even though we strive to have rich, full lives, we can’t have it all. We can’t be there for every moment, every milestone, every crisis.

But perhaps this makes us more conscientious and intentional. Better at prioritizing what’s really important to us.

We find ways to keep these connections strong despite the distance. To show our love and support from afar.

Nothing comes without a price. Every dream requires sacrifices. But when you know what you really want, it’s easier to accept the downsides. And you learn how to minimize their impact. How to work around it.

So even though my heart twinges when I’m reminded of what I’ve given up, I know that this is my dream coming to life. Every path and every choice opens up some possibilities and closes off others. But I’m still a good friend, a good sister, and a good daughter. It’s just taking a different form.

What have you had to give up to get where you are? Does the thought of making sacrifices hold you back from your dreams?

Love, calico kittens, & fields of daisies,




P.S. I’m giving away a copy of Romance Yourself. Just pop over to my Instagram for the details.

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