Click here to read the interview on Reynolds Sandbox, “showcasing innovative and engaging multimedia storytelling by students at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno”
“MediaTips: Emily Miller, an ‘Existential Migrant’
In our latest in a series on Media Tips, Dalyn Cooke catches up with Emily Miller, an American journalist living in Argentina who also works as a Spanish-English translator and blogs at Urban Expats.”
View at Medium.com
Click here to listen to the interview with Emily about life in Argentina and existential migration on Road Dust Podcast.
“Episode 6 – The existential and practical aspects of living abroad in Argentina – with Emily Miller
Emily is sharing her incredible life journey. Originally from Vermont, she lives in Argentina since 2008. We talk about many daily aspects of life in Buenos Aires, such as food, healthcare, education, music – as well as about existential topics, such as what makes people move across the world.”
Founder and CEO of Roomi
“As an “expat-preneur” who moved to the U.S. from India twelve years ago and founded three companies, I believe my own personal experience may shed some light on this question.
To begin with, immigrating to a new country means starting from scratch: learning an entirely new language, separating from loved ones, figuring out how to navigate an unfamiliar culture and re-establishing the basics, including shelter, employment, health insurance, and community.
And therein lies the secret: starting a new business carries many of the same challenges as uprooting your life and moving to a new country. Entrepreneurs need to learn the new “language” of business and finance, navigate the cultural nuances of commerce, industry, and effective networking, and separate themselves from the crowd in order to seek out new endeavors. In short, both experiences require peak levels of resourcefulness and a persevering spirit to power through non-stop challenges and new territories.”
I was recently in Marrakech and Istanbul, two cities where you can hear the Islamic call to worship.
In many countries, Adhan (in Arabic) or Ezan (in Turkish) is the call to prayer that is recited 5 times throughout each day in order to summon muslims for mandatory worship. This practice is intended to reach as many people as possible, which is why microphones and loudspeakers are utilized. The Muezzin is the person chosen for this task, based on his talent at reciting the Adhan beautifully, melodically and loudly. It is one of the most important duties in the mosque.
What are they saying? That there is no strength or power except from God. That there is no God but Allah. That Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
The first time I heard it I was in Marrakech. I just stopped and stood still and listened. It was a truly beautiful thing. After a week in Marrakech and a week in Istanbul I can honestly say that I never tired of hearing it. In Istanbul, it sounded like a beautiful song.
My favorite part? How the different Muezzins at the different mosques seemed to be speaking to each other. You would hear it coming from one mosque, then suddenly realize it was coming from another, then another, then back to the first mosque.
Experience it for yourself.
First of all, I want to explain the difference between being “bilingual” and “fluent”, in my opinion. “Fluency” is subjective and mainly refers to your ability to communicate well, even if you make mistakes or have a foreign accent. “Bilingual” means that you speak it as well as your native language. So, how long did it take me to get to the point where I speak Spanish as well as I speak English? Oh, about 20 years. Everyone is different, so I can only comment on my own process, but based on my own experience, here’s my formula for becoming bilingual:
Traveling can be expensive, especially in big cities, but I do have some advice on how you can save money and do it on the cheap.
GO WHEN THE WEATHER IS NICE, BUT NOT DURING PEAK SEASON
If the weather is nice, you can spend most of your visit outdoors (at the beach, in a park or gardens, along the river, etc.) which will save you lots of money, so try to plan your trip for a season with decent weather. However, make sure it’s not peak season as that’s when all the prices are jacked up.
Eat street food. Utilize local supermarkets. Cook. If the weather is nice, picnic in a park. The gardens at the Eiffel Tower is a popular destination for picnicking and drinking wine or beer while enjoying the power and mystique of the tower. If you really want the restaurant experience, go at lunch time during the work week when there are deals.
As a long-term expat, people always ask me “why?”: “why did you leave the United States?”, “why did you move to the Czech Republic?”, “why did you move to Argentina?”, “why do you study so many languages?”, “why don’t you want to return to the United States?”.
Now, on my 10th anniversary of being an expat, I feel very fortunate to finally be able to answer those questions. The answer is simple, yet complicated: I am an existential migrant, and always have been.
Here is the UN’s 2015 International Migration Infographic, which claims that there are 4 million “North Americans” (which would include Canada) living abroad.
Meanwhile, AARO’s estimate is 8 MILLION Americans (from the United States), twice as many as the United Nations has reported for both the United States and Canada. According to their website, they got this figure from the U.S. State Department.
I just spent a month in Paris and have the DL on how to meet other expats living in the city.
When I arrived to Paris I didn’t know anyone and didn’t really have any kind of plan. I didn’t know how I was going to meet people, or practice my French, or even what I was going to do with my time. So, as soon as I arrived, I went online and googled a few keywords such as “French conversation groups in Paris” and “meeting expats in Paris”. Here’s what happened….
1. Meetup.com Continue reading
In terms of finding cheap or affordable ways to practice your French in Paris, Meetup.com has good options.
When you live abroad, you inevitably end up dating and having relationships with people from other cultures, which comes naturally to the existential migrant since they are xenophiles that are inherently more attracted to what is “different” and “unfamiliar” anyway.
However, although many existential migrants actively seek out foreign partners, this decision can bring on a whole new set of problems and challenges….as if dating and relationships weren’t hard enough! Not only do you have to get to know each other and integrate your unique personalities like any other couple, you have to do this while trying to transcend linguistic and cultural barriers. On the other hand, these differences can also be the main driving force behind cross-cultural relationships that do work. Meaning, what can tear you apart can also keep you together.
Based on my experience and that of other expats, I’m breaking down cross-cultural dating by examining a few of the stand-out influential factors affecting these connections.
1. We have no system for greeting or saying goodbye
Unlike many countries that have clear systems (such as an air kiss on the cheek, or an air kiss on both cheeks) the U.S. has no system for greeting and saying goodbye. Do you hug? Shake hands? Kiss? Do nothing? There are no clear rules. Well, if you’re meeting someone for the first time, you shake hands, and if you’re seeing someone you haven’t seen for a while, you hug. But what about all of the situations in between? Meeting friends for lunch, arriving at a party, coming home from work, dropping in on a neighbor? Confusing.
2. We are conservative
My experience with cat calling before arriving to Buenos Aires (in the United States, Europe, and other parts of Latin America) was as follows: men in teams or groups, yelling or speaking loudly, sometimes using vulgar or offensive language, sometimes accompanied by whistling or gesturing, which generally would go on for a bit too long (until I was out of sight), possibly because they were attempting to get a reaction out of me. Because this type of cat-calling is always quite public, and men are not on their own when they do it, it almost seems like it has more to do with impressing other men rather than actually wanting to call attention to the woman’s appearance.
Cat calling in Buenos Aires is a very different experience. For me, this type of cat calling is private, quick, complimentary, and totally free of expectations. Men, as they’re walking past me on the street (or driving by me in their cars) will make a quick and quiet (almost whispered) comment to me about my appearance. The most common remarks I hear are “Que linda que sos!” (How pretty you are!), “Que hermosa que sos!” (“How gorgeous you are!”), and finally, my personal favorite, “Que Belleza!” (“What beauty!”). This type of cat calling is generally (in no way do I want to claim that it always happens this way as I can only speak about my own experience) quick and private, done in passing, meant for my ears only, using complimentary and non-vulgar language, and with no expectation of a reaction or other interaction to follow. It’s as if they just want to quickly compliment me, and for us both to continue on with the day. So, what’s bad about that? To be honest, it doesn’t bother me personally, but when I think about it, I do recognize that cat calling, in any form, proliferates the importance that society places on female appearance, delaying the strides we are making towards gender equality.
Today, the urban destinations of American expats are numerous, and expanding. In addition to the more traditional destinations (Mexico, Canada, Israel, Australia and many countries in Europe), in recent years we’ve seen new currents of American migration, especially towards Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. They tend to choose these destinations for a combination of personal, cultural, linguistic, educational, professional and economic reasons. It’s also important to mention that many Americans are also heavily influenced by their family and social networks, and often choose their host country, and city, accordingly.
Above all, the trend of American expatriation to urban destinations is the most notable, especially to “global cities” where they find international lifestyles, cultural opportunities, diversity, excitement, and of course growing urban expat communities.
Emerging urban expat destinations
Moving to a big city abroad is an an exciting adventure!
- You meet people from all over the world. As a foreigner in a big city it’s just natural that you fall into the international social scene and meet other amazing urban expats.
- Freedom and independence. Living abroad is essentially living outside the box and as a foreigner you generally aren’t held to the same expectations as locals, which means a life of independence and freedom from society’s rules and expectations.
- Freedom from a boring life. Everything is new and different: new language, new culture, new food, new friends, new customs…
- You increase your intelligence. Yes, all these new and different experiences, new language, new culture expand your mind in ways you never thought possible.
- You also learn a lot more about yourself and grow and change so much just by getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself.
making American friends is easy when you’re abroad!
Meeting other expats when you’re living abroad is actually really easy if you live in a global city. In fact, in my personal experience and those of other expats, making new American friends is way easier abroad than it is in the States.