Things I Never Thought I’d Do Before I Became an Expat

A lot has changed in my life since I became an expat: I no longer work; I became a mother; I’m older (and wiser?)… Some of the changes happened as a result of becoming an expat, whereas others would have happened anyway. But there’s no denying, whatever the reason, that becoming an expat has changed me. As it looks like I will be remaining an expat for another six months at least, here are some of the things I would never have thought I’d have done before moving abroad:

1) Hired a maid. When I first moved to Brunei, I was surprised to find that most people had an amah – the term over here for a maid/cleaner/domestic helper or whatever else you want to call them. Many people have a full-time amah who lives with them, whereas some – myself included- have someone part-time. At first I thought there was no way I would need anyone to help out, after all I had just given up my job – I would have plenty of time to do the housework! We hired someone a few months later…

2) Pampered myself for no reason. I’ve always enjoyed the occasional spa treatment, but mostly due to the cost I only ever booked a massage for a special occasion when I lived in the UK, and the only time I ever got my nails done was for my wedding. It’s a bit of an expat cliche, but massages are so cheap over here that I went on a weekly basis before a little one put more demands on my time and I now get my nails done on a monthly basis  – a trip to the hairdressers wouldn’t be the same otherwise.

3) Invited total strangers round to the house. I suppose that this one is very much a result of living in a small, tightly knit community, it perhaps wouldn’t be safe elsewhere! It’s common to bump in to someone who knows a friend of a friend and is finding their feet, or even someone you have no connection to, and invite them over or help them to settle in. I think what a shame it is that this can’t happen everywhere.

4) Given up sunbathing. Apart from when I’m on holiday, I never sunbathe. Again, this is partly due to not being able to take a little one out in the equatorial sun, but even before he came along I had pretty much stopped. Partly it’s because it loses its novelty when it’s sunny all the time, and partly because you see the people who have been sunbathing all of their lives and it isn’t kind to the skin, to say the least. But people always comment on how pale I am when I go back home.

Image from
Image from

5) Eaten curry for breakfast. Or fried noodles. Or sweetcorn as a desert. The sweetcorn is just plain weird, but the other two are delicious! I’ve never been much of a cereal fan – the staple breakfast choice in the UK – and I much prefer a nice curry and rice. Obviously, only if someone makes it for me at that time of day though!

6) Started blogging. My expat life gave me the impetus to start a blog – beforehand I never thought to do it as I didn’t think I had any stories to tell. This week, while trying to take my mind off the possibility of moving, I set up a second blog about books and reading – just in case I was coming to the end of my days as an expat! It doesn’t look like that’s happening for a while now, but I will still be continuing with the blog (you can find it here if you are interested, but it’s only in its first few days).

Is there anything that you do now that you would never have dreamed of before? Either as an expat, or just in your everyday life?


13 thoughts on “Things I Never Thought I’d Do Before I Became an Expat

  1. I loved this post! It’s funny to think that as an American living in the UK, I’m an expat—in your home country! So what did I NOT expect? Living in a castle, tea with Prince Charles, the Highlands (!!!), and most of all, the way people we meet everywhere are so incredibly kind and unfailingly fascinating!

  2. I’m about to become an expat myself in month or so when we move to Holland.
    Hopefully I’ll have lots to blog about as I try to find a job and learn Dutch…

    I already know of one thing I’ll be doing that I never did before – Cycling everywhere!
    I expect to have buns of steel within 6 months.

  3. I never thought I would need to know a lot about scorpions. Since moving to the desert, I’ve learned more about scorpions than I ever wanted to know. I’ve become very proficient at hunting them with a backlight. Life can be really strange sometimes.

    1. Yikes! I’ve thankfully never seen a scorpion in Brunei, although I’m told that they are about. The scariest encounter I had was nearly standing on a snake, but thankfully I didn’t know about it until I had already passed over it and my friend yelled at me!

  4. I still can’t get used to the sweet corn thing – in tuna, on pizza, yuck, no thanks sorry! And then you can’t even get proper corn on the cob – one of the things I miss most! I’m an American expat in Scotland for 14 yrs now, it’s definitely a strange life adjustment that’s for sure, I’m still learning!

  5. I could never get my head around how much was deep fried in Scotland, especially a pizza – that must have had about a week’s calories in it! There are a lot of things I miss now that we’ve moved away, but I’ve never really liked sweetcorn in everything either.

  6. I never thought I’d eat fried chicken or barbecue for breakfast, or take up running regularly. Obviously the running’ pretty important if you’re going to eat fried chicken and barbecue for breakfast!

  7. Definitely with you on sun bathing. The Australian sun is very fierce. Looking forward to Winter after a particular stinking hot and long Summer; I’d have never done that before!

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