Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Moving Home
Living abroad was one of the best and most difficult things I’ve ever done. It was exhilarating and exciting and besides who doesn’t want to live on a tropical island? When we moved to Phuket, Thailand I was ready to become an expat and enjoy every minute of it. Life in the United States wasn’t going the way I had envisioned. I was working like crazy, struggling to pay of my looming student loans, and just overall didn’t feel free. Everything changed the second I decided to move to Thailand.
I never thought that two years later I’d be coming back to live in the United States. I was ready to be back on U.S. soil and see all my old friends and family, but it prove to be much more difficult than I thought. When I was abroad, it was hard being away and not having many people to talk to. I was ready for all the comforts of home and to finally be able to share some of my travel stories, but I didn’t expect to feel like a failure. The more time I was home, the more I started to feel like I had moved backwards in life. I had done such a crazy and adventurous thing by moving abroad and taking control of my life, but moving home just felt like all of that was all for nothing; it felt like I had failed.
Nothing prepared me for when I would talk to new people and explain that I had once been an expat. Their eyes would light up with excitement and delight just to be followed by such a disconcerting look followed by those words, “And you moved back home?” Nobody seemed to understand and it was easy to assume that living abroad was perfect. I’d call my friends and they’d ask, “How is it there?” and before I could respond they’d say, “Oh its so beautiful, life must be perfect!” How could I ever explain that it wasn’t? That life, no matter where you live still has its ups and downs? So I kept quiet.
“I can’t help but feel sad
at the thought that it is
all behind me now.
Why did I move home?”
The past two years of my life have been the most exciting ever and I can’t help but feel sad at the thought that it is all behind me now. Why did I move home? I guess some backstory is in order. Jeff and I moved to Thailand as a couple. He and I both always wanted to live abroad, but never really had the courage to do it alone. We were what we both needed to take that huge step into the unknown and I was so grateful I had my best friend by my side while I did it. When we pushed that button to book our one-way ticket to move to the other side of the world, we both knew that it would make us or break us as a couple. We talked about how things could end badly, but in the end it was worth the risk.
After selling everything we owned, moving out of our apartments and even quitting our jobs, we were off. Once we settled into our new life, reality started to settle in. It was confusing. We were in such a beautiful place, yet it seemed so dark. We went from being best friends and a couple that worked all week and lived 70-miles apart to living together on an island, working and running a business together and being our only friends. After struggling we both decided that something had to give, and unfortunately that was the relationship. For me, I’d rather have my best friend and be single then loose everything we had built together, and Jeff felt the same way. So I decided to move home, it was difficult, but I needed it.
“I want to travel, I want to live in new countries and now I can pick myself up and plan my next adventure.”
Now that I’ve been back home for six months, I find myself feeling depressed and out of place. I keep thinking about moving abroad again, but I know that it would be scary to do alone. I’ve become so comfortable in my little bubble being back in my hometown that moving again is scary. Is in normal to feel this stuck? The answer is yes.
I think that moving home whether you lived in Thailand or just lived in a different town or state can be difficult. It’s easy to feel like you’re moving backwards, but just remember, all that matters is what you need at that moment. For me it was coming home so that I could rediscover why I moved abroad in the first place. I needed to feel this way so that I could be remotivated to fight for it. I want to travel, I want to live in new countries and now I can pick myself up and plan my next adventure.
I can finally feel myself starting to pull out of my funk and although it took 6 months to get there it was something I just had to go through. I love traveling and without it I just don’t feel like me. I need to get back out there and start exploring again. I know that Jeff and I breaking up plus moving back home has been a really difficult thing for me to get over, however it is time for me to focus on what makes me happy – TRAVELING. Although I don’t know if I’ll ever live abroad again, I can at least explore the world and all it has to offer!
As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.
Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.