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To Settle or To Roam: The Expat’s Dilemma

I’ve been doing my fair share of complaining lately. Particularly about how unsettled this season of my life has been. On one hand I am living the dream in Germany, but on the other hand I am struggling to keep up with the constant changes.

I wonder what my life will look like in two months, six months, one year, and I honestly have no idea. I don’t know where we will live or what I will do for a living or even if I will have finally mastered this new language. Thinking about this often leaves me frustrated.

But then I think about the alternative. Knowing that I would be in the same city, same job, same life for years at a time. And I realize that scares me too. I might be equally scared of both change and complacency.

I enjoy living abroad because it gives me the chance to somewhat settle but never feel bored. I am always learning, exploring, and growing. But this is the first time that I’ve had the possibility to think about staying somewhere for the long haul. To stop feeling like an outsider and more like a local.

Part of me wants to rejoice and do a happy dance about finally having some consistency. Yet I just can’t help but to think about how I will feel after a year of that. When the monotony begins to sink in. And I start to dream of moving and traveling and shaking things up.

“She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. ‘Time’ for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.”

– Roman Payne

I guess that’s the irony for me. I want to settle and I want to roam. And doing both is not impossible, but difficult. Because for me, taking a once a year vacation just isn’t enough. I need the ability to constantly explore but still have a home base.

I think that’s why so many of us travelers decide to become expats. So we can settle down in a new world. Plant roots in the unfamiliar. Build a life for ourselves in the midst of the foreignness that we crave.

I want to embrace both of these aspects of life. The wild and chaotic times, and the somewhat repetitive and peaceful times. Life is too short to not enjoy all of its facets.

So that’s my challenge to myself in the upcoming months. To embrace the unpredictability of my current life. And to prepare myself for the ensuing challenge of settling.

Do you prefer to be settled or to roam? Or have you created yourself a life with both aspects?

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