by Melinda Gallo

I love being an expat

I love being an expat so much that I canít imagine not being one. I love how two cities that were foreign to me and have now become so familiar to me that I consider them home. I love how living overseas has opened me up, changed me, allowed me to grow, and stretched me to be who I was born to be. I love how I have learned to look past the surface. I love how I see people for who they are and not what they do. I love how communicating with someone doesnít involve only the words he/she says.

I love how living overseas has changed me, allowed me to grow, and stretched me even when I didnít want to.

I love how each city (Florence and Paris) has become like a loved one to me. Each one has become a part of me and can never be removed, no matter how long I am away. Each city has touched and inspired me in a myriad of ways teaching me to be true to myself and to act solely from the heart. I love how each city has added depth to my life and a quality of life that I revel in each day.

Being an expat has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. At times, I canít even imagine who I would have been had I not left California at the age of 22. At the time, I had no idea what it meant to be an expat or what affect it would have on me. Iím so happy that I leapt into the unknown without knowing what would happen. I am happy that when faced with challenges, I didnít pack my bags. I persevered. The waters I fell into were initially rough, but after letting go, they led me to where I needed to go.

I enjoy the challenges of living overseas: I am continuing to learn new words and expressions in French and Italian, Iím still trying to figure out the world around me, and Iím discovering new aspects of myself.

No matter how many differences there might be around me in the people of each city, I see so many similarities as well. We are each unique, but similar. We all are just trying to be happy in the time we have together. Life is truly what you make it and focus on making yours a masterpiece.

If you have ever thought of becoming an expat, do it. Donít think about it too much, let your heart lead you, experience the world, and feel your way around your new home. I donít know who Iíd be had I never moved overseas, and you too will never know until you plunge into the unknown waters of your heartís desires.

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