3 Nov 2013

Expat

A German, an American and a Swiss walk into a French bar in Hong Kong.

What sounds like the beginning of a corny joke is in fact a rather frequent occurence in the life of expats, these rootless roaming warriors of the globe, who live their lives far away from the green green grass of home. It's a lifestyle with lots of perks, but it does not come without downsides. Apart from the obvious occasional bout of home sickness, expats frequently struggle to properly immerse themselves in their current host culture, and to make friends among the local population, lest they get attached to someone they have to abandon again soon.

It was partly out of fear of staying in a glitzy, but transient expat bubble that I tried to avoid fellow foreigners when I first arrived in Montréal. Instead, my efforts centered on building a network of Québecois friends, who over the years provided me with a great introduction to life in the belle province and enabled many of the adventures you have read about here.

Perhaps it was the sense of detachment and superficial commitment experienced during my six months in Chile that helped me open up towards the expat community. Shortly after my return to Montréal, a friend introduced me to an online platform specifically geared towards global nomads. InterNations not only has a wealth of information, bulletin boards and resources on most major cities, it also facilitates regular community meet-ups for networking, and plenty of social activities.

Before I knew it, I had started attending these monthly gatherings on a regular basis, and have seen my connections multiply across a panoply of nationalities. To my own surprise, my almost five years in the city made me one of the more experienced expat residents, and enabled me to help out many of my new acquaintances with their questions on settling in. On several occasions, I directed fellow InterNations members to these pages for reference, from how to get a driver's license to obtaining your immigration physical.

Nonetheless, it caught me by surprise when one of the community members suggested I list this humble diary as a featured blog in InterNations' Montréal section. But why not? Communities such as this one are all about sharing knowledge and learning from each other. And this is why you will now notice a small "featured blog" banner on the right-hand side of this page. A cordial Bonjour-Welcome to all new readers!

I am happy to have joined the InterNations gang, and should probably have done so a lot earlier. After all, I had long been an active participant in a certain other, specialized online community which has impacted my life in more ways than I can think. Including getting me to join a German and an American in a French bar in Hong Kong.

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