This is the third post in a five-part series about the emotional component of the expat experience: leaving home, settling in and the issues faced in adjusting to life in a new country.
Missed the previous posts? Read ‘Part 1: Leaving Home’ and ‘Part 2: Acclimatising’.
So, now you’ve settled in, sorted out your living arrangements and located your local supermarket. Now, it’s time to start carving out a new life for yourself. And for me, building a solid foundation of friends is one of the most important parts of settling in.
I have put a great deal of thought into this aspect of expat life, and lately, I’ve been busy trying out my own advice as I establish my own network here in the Windy City. I like to think of friendships as an investment: it’s an investment in yourself, in others, and in happiness. Life is always more fun when you have people to share the experience with.
The descent into winter has been swift. Days alternate between brilliant blue skies and grey, moody. The only constant seems to be the steady fall of the mercury. Chicago seems to have different faces depending upon the seasons, the weather and its overall mood.
My little sister is one of the coolest, most engaging people I know. She’s outdoorsy, athletic and loves a good adventure. She never misses a beat, hurdling all life throws at her with a unique mix of spirit, nonchalance and determination.
Her laugh is infectious and she has a magnetic quality to her: she’s the person you’re instantly drawn to at a party. She’ll make sure you’re introduced to everyone, well fed, and can even educate you on the finer varietals of grape.
But what I particularly love about my sister is her loyalty. This one is no shrinking violet! With sincere convictions, she fights for what she believes in. And she’s generous beyond measure, one of the most selfless people I know.
There’s so much I admire about her. And, even as the elder sibling, I look up to her. I’m just so lucky to be able to call her my sister.
Alexandra Franzen wants “to live in a world where emails are short, love letters are brave, and ‘thank you’ notes are scribbled by hand”. And with such beautiful images of a life full of love, gratitude and tenacity conjured up, who wouldn’t want to join her?
Alexandra Franzen is one of my favourite word-gurus. Quite simply put, I adore the way she writes. It’s catchy, engaging. There’s a complex simplicity to it. A real ‘lightning bolt of awesome’. She’s not in the business of rocket science, but she is in the business of reminding you not to over-think things, to believe in yourself and to inspire you to take action. I stand in awe of her ability to be so sharp, so concise. Sometimes, there’s only a word or two per sentence. As a self-confessed verbal ultra-elaborator, this is magical.
Only a few weeks ago, we were diving off the pier and into the cool, clear waters of Lake Michigan. Impromptu weekday swims. Afternoons spent drying off in the warm breeze. But as autumn gains momentum, this summer seems more and more like a dream.