A friend of mine is staring down the barrel of a longterm expat assignment and she is frantic. “but what am I going to do Vix? I’m going to be so bored. I can’t work, I’ll have no friends, I don’t play a sport..what can I do?”
It’s a great question and one I asked myself when I was first made redundant here in the UK and subsequently lost my work Visa. I hadn’t made any friends. I didn’t have young children at home so that was another potential source of fitting in to the community gone. I couldn’t afford to play a sport because I no longer had an income, so couldn’t spend my days on the golf course (even though there is a very nice one down the road) as my Mum once did as an expat wife back in 1970s Fiji gold fields.
What was I to do?
My answer came in the writing I’d indulged in since I was a child. Writing has always been my way of making sense of what is happening around me. I’d been writing in journals since I was ten years old – but that personal stuff was really writing therapy, not so good for public consumption. But there was that other writing – the freelance work I used to do to raise an income whenever I needed a little extra. The only problem with that was that I was mostly paid for that work, and I couldn’t endanger the granting of my settlement visa by flouting the no-work rules.
So, I started this blog.
No one was going to pay me anything for it. It was cheap to set up (free at first on the Blogger platform) and only required the one thing I had in abundance – free time. Over the past two and a half years I’ve come to the conclusion that blogging could well be the perfect job for the trailing spouse.
Not only does blogging raise your skill levels, so that you learn about social media platforms, marketing, content management systems (like Blogger and WordPress), a little coding (HTML) but it can even lead to careers in public speaking, videography, and digital marketing.
But most important of all for expats, blogging can help expats keep in touch with friends and family at home, and make new connections with other expats around the world..who are all experiencing the same trials and tribulations they are experiencing. There’s a world-wide empathy that’s part of being an expat blogger, that helps me to understand completely what my friend Kirsty is experiencing flying Down Under and being away from her kids, (hang in there Kirsty) even though she is an Australian living in Qatar and I’m a New Zealander living in the UK. Our experiences, though very different, still have so many things in common. I can relate to Russell the British expat missing the white Christmases of his country of origin (UK), and I know only too well how it feels when Toni talks about her family being American and not understanding her English heritage. I feel that way sometimes about my Englishman not understanding my Kiwi heritage.
I get it. I don’t sympathise I empathise, and somehow it makes my own feelings seem so much more bearable, knowing that others can lead the way through the dark days.
Sometimes those friendships can lead to real life friendships that can help to ease the sense of isolation the trailing spouse can feel and can go a long way towards making you feel at home in your host country.
Eventually writing a blog might even lead to an income through advertising or promotions on the blog itself or in the form of publishing books about your expat adventures or destination guides or apps. Of course with thousands of new blogs emerging every day there’s no guarantee that your new expat blog will lead to financial success, but in terms of making you stop, reflect, absorb and enjoy your expat experiences, is there anything better?
Portable, practical, fun (mostly), connective and social – is publishing an expat blog the perfect expat job?
What do you think? What makes the perfect expat job?