Tomorrow will be my first day in Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, paid employment in Sydney. There is so much “normal” in that one sentence it’s not even funny.
Don’t pretend you’re not disappointed. I’m trying not to be.
“So when are you going back to South America?”
“What are you doing here? Just here for a break?”
These are things people have actually, literally, said to me. I’ve been home in Canberra for two months, but there is an assumption I won’t stay long in Australia. I don’t know how I got a reputation this formidable.
Sure, I like travelling and I enjoy tourism. But the truth is, I have never been driven by wanderlust. It pains me a little to think that other people might believe I’m just chasing adventure.
After some reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that what I love is not travelling – it’s being an expat.
Despite the stereotypes and everyone calling me la chinita, I actually love being foreign and, yes, exotic. I embrace being different. I get a kick out of being apparently Asian, raised Australian and finding myself on the other side of the world speaking Spanish fluently. You can’t put that in a box.
Being an expat has also given me a lot of perspective, a greater appreciation of what it means to have heavenly citizenship. It has freed me of dependence on social and material structures and safety nets I enjoyed (or suffered from) at home. It has taught me how to be wrong.
Living abroad has had a profound impact on my life and faith, but I don’t want to be defined by the travelling that I’ve done. It’s tempting to wear that label – after all, it’s a pretty cool sticker as far as branding goes. But it’s also a label that falls short of the fullness and complexity of who I am even now, let alone who God is making me to be.
So maybe it’s time to come home and be at home. Maybe it’s time to learn to be in “my” country again. To live in a world that speaks my first language. To not be foreign or exotic. To reconfigure my structures and safety nets. To learn all over again how to be wrong in my own community.
I’m going to miss being an expat and there is no guarantee I won’t head abroad again in the future. But this chapter of my life will be set in Sydney, Australia, and I’m determined it won’t just be filler for other more exciting parts of my story. No – let’s make this count.
7 thoughts on “Next stop: Sydney”
I so love this article! I identified myself with your feelings regarding being labeled as exotic or expat, I have to admit it is a sweet card to use haha.
I think your international experience -specially the one about helping people who is living under unjust systems- gave you the vision of seeing this world not as a big map with geographical and political divisions but as a whole battle field in constant struggle.
I wish you the best success in Sydney, I believe your country needs people like you collaborating to make it a even better place to live, you are very skillful, I celebrate your domain over your first language and also your high level in speaking Spanish you really have mastered the accent, as I told you: I feel like I´m talking with my cousin from Mexico!
Looking forward to have news about you and waiting to enjoy more of your amazing articles 🙂
Aww thanks for reading my post and for your sweet and thoughtful comments. It’s cool that the expat perspective is something you understand, too, Exotic Daniel 😛
Your point about the world being a “battlefield in constant struggle” is a good one – thanks for reminding me because I actually forget that sometimes … despite all I have been doing and seeing these last few years! I never truly understood that before I lived abroad because life in Australia was just so easy and comfortable. That said, I wonder what struggles YOU are seeing in Canberra/Australia that we maybe don’t see?
I am already missing speaking Spanish! One of my colleagues is Mexican but I’m a bit shy to speak to her in Spanish … Haha.
Sydney is absolutely amazing. I’m sure you’ll have a prefect time 🙂
I’m sure it is!! But I grew up in Canberra and always preferred Melbourne 😛 No in all seriousness, with all the house hunting I’m doing I’m starting to see that there are some really lovely areas in the Lower North Shore. If you have any Sydney suggestions, lemme know! And thanks for dropping by my blog, Moritz 🙂
It’s my pleasure. I definitely have to explore whole Australia rather sooner than later 🙂
Hey babe! thanks for your entry, glad to hear from you and that you’ve found a stable job in Sydney, these days jobs are hard to get, especially in a big city. You’ve been blessed. Just wanted to say it never crossed my mind that you went to S.America for adventure or just travels. You always had a goal in mind, there was always a purpose, a calling, always for the people, for the love of special people whom you’ve blessed and been blessed through.
It’s great to be home, welcome home. Nothing wrong with liking to be different. It’s called individuality I think. 😉
Meryl! Yeah this job is such a great opportunity and such a good fit for me (at least in theory, and so far in these three days) that I can’t even call it a coincidence, doesn’t do it justice. I’ve been super blessed with this and everything before it too. And thanks for your encouraging words 🙂 Yeah you know I can’t figure out what “people” think … I think more than attributing bad motives for living abroad to me, they attribute really saintly ones! And all along I kinda wanted to show that it wasn’t a special calling just for me, that if I can do it, they/y’all can.