Black Women's Empowerment

Calling All Expats!

BW airplane silhouette

We have so many BW here who have worked, taught or studied abroad. On travel posts, a wealth of information often comes out in the comments section. So, let’s dish on our experiences abroad for readers who may be watching from the sidelines, gaining the courage for a big jump. Hair? Taxes? Belongings? Visas? Cultural faux paus? Making friends? Let’s give the down and dirty. Just what has your experience been making the move to live and/or work outside of America?

I can start with mine – I spent a summer working in finance in Holland back in college. I was working for a large company so all of the technical details were taken care of. As far as hair, the first time I washed my hair and proceeded to plug in and turn my American hooded dryer on, there were weird noises like it was turning into a spaceship, followed by blue flashes of light and finally smoke. I was natural the rest of the summer, having finally painfully understood the difference between an adapter versus a converter. I had acrylic nails at the time and it did take awhile to find a nail salon. I was surprised to see that many were black owned and formed a lovely relationship with an African woman over the summer.

As far as connecting, my co-workers were all older with their own families and from all over the world (really just doing a year or so in Holland) and I never hooked up with an expat community; I met a group of Americans at the company who left a week or so after I arrived.

If I could do things over, one thing I do differently is being more adventurous and traveling to other countries. While I did a TON of local sightseeing every weekend, I worked so much I really couldn’t travel outside of Holland. I should have made the time.

Okay, I’ve dished! What experiences have YOU had abroad?

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