Should expatriates be writing?

Before I became an expat I never thought of writing as something I can do on a regular basis and as something I can enjoy. In  fact, writing was never my strong point… well, according to my 6th grade Soviet teacher anyway.

But then I moved to my first overseas posting. And even though English was officially my second language and I had to get comfortable writing in it, I started to experiment with the written word. First I wrote extensive letters about what I was experiencing; then I started writing short stories — my first one (the one about buying a car in Uzbekistan) actually made it onto the NPR’s Car Talk website; and later I began to base my fiction on what I saw around me. My writing really took off and I haven’t stopped since.

Recently I read in one of the LinkedIn group discussions that, according to a recent study, expatriation does wonders to one’s creativity. When you move overseas you become more creative — and that increased creativity may express itself in off-the-wall business ideas and/or in nurturing your inner artist either through writing, painting, or any other art form. In my journey both things happened: I took up writing and I created a business.

Reality is stranger than fiction. And who better know it than us — the expatriates — people who on a daily basis experience something new, something we can tell the world about?

What about you? Do you have some short stories in you? Have you been writing about what you see and about what you experience? Someone out there would love to read it, I bet!

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6 responses to “Should expatriates be writing?

  1. I think expats have a lot to say since they are in a culture where communciation is limited. I love to talk to people and it has been difficult in our new home. However, if you really want company, you will find a way to chat with a person!

    I have written a few notes on my experiences in Facebook. The response is very interesting.

    I think expats should write or communicate their experiences so that they help others manage expectations, if visiting another country. Living in a foreign country is absolutely not the same as visiting and it allows us to enlighten others, possibly. 🙂

    Thanks for your note and I hope other expats write. I could devour the information from friends in the same situation!

  2. You better believe it! I moved from the U.S. to Italy to give my kids a cross-cultural experience and the “experience” lead me to transition from being a lawyer to being a cross-cultural trainer and consultant. So “creative” did I become in this arena, that I’m now considered at the forefront of my discipline – have been retained by the U.S. State Department and a number of Universities throughout the world to teach my model of cross-cultural conflict resolution. So, I’m 100% behind you when you say that an expatriate experience leads to creativity and “off the wall” business ideas. This one was “off the wall” and “out of sight” and has become the love of my life (so to speak). Keep up the good work and keep on writing. Denise Hummel

  3. We can all learn a lot from the experiences of others, and we can help others by sharing our stories. To be able to read personal accounts of what works, and doesn’t, in meeting the challenges of relocating across cultural thresholds would be enormously useful to families considering international moves. The sharing also would be valuable relative to understanding what life might be like in various locations and could include great ideas for dealing with the logistics challenges as well. By all means, write on!

  4. Absolutely we should be writing! When I moved to Turkey 10 years ago, writing about my experiences opening a vintage textile shop in a business dominated by men became my outlet for processing all that was changing in my life. It led to being included in a best-selling anthology ‘Tales from the Expat Harem’ and now I’m blogging and writing a book about my experiences here. Being an expat happily forced me to find more outlets for my creativity and talents I did not know I had.

  5. there is someone who would love to expatriate but there is noone than is able to help them to find the right way and suggestions for a should and could.thanks

  6. As a Canadian living in the US, now that I’m “back” from India, I supposed most people wouldn’t consider me an expat anymore– although, technically, I am.

    I still really enjoy reading blogs and books about expat experiences. Once an expat, always able to identify with being an expat–and maybe even long for it in some ways.

    Currently, I’m reading Postcards From Across the Pond byAmerican expat in England, Michael Harling. I spent three years in England, myself, so I find myself easily identifying with his story.

    Keep writing, expats!

    Danielle Barkhouse
    Author of The Expat Arc

    Danielle Barkhouse
    Author of The Expat Arc

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