Mentor Travel is back with another Expat Confession, where we interview someone living abroad. We get to know everything there is about their specific experience with living abroad and love hearing the gritty details about what they like, what they don’t like, how they support themselves, and how they enjoy living abroad. Hopefully this will give you some inspiration and help you decide if living abroad is right for you.
Meet Terrence M. from Philadelphia
He’s a 50 something guy from the east coast of the United States. He grew up in Philadelphia where he started to develop a keen ear for music. This talent provided him with opportunities to move abroad to both Belgium and Japan, while traveling to many other countries along the way. He just spent a few years living the sunny life in Hawaii before moving to his current home in Seattle, USA with his wife and daughter. Here is his story:
Q. Tell me where you are right now? What do you see this exact moment?
A. In Seattle at my desk.
Q. What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
A. I have so many. I try to find something wonderful about each place.
Q. What’s one place you hope to travel to in the future?
A. I have traveled so much. At this point I really just want to stay in one place and enjoy it.
Q. What made you start thinking about moving abroad?
A. I was a professional musician at the start so it kind of comes with the job.
Q. Where all did you live abroad? What do you do to support yourself?
A. I lived in Japan and Belgium. Primary I played music. However; supplemented that with tending bar, teaching English and a bit of light construction.
Q. What was the final factor that make you take the leap to move abroad?
A. I have never been someone with attachments to a place. There was no real inspiration. It was just “hey why not”.
Q. What information do you wish you knew before you moved? Do you have any regrets?
A. No regrets. I learned a lot about myself and other cultures.
Q. Are you able to travel while living abroad?
A. In Europe I used the train. In Japan, I bought my first car.
Q. What is your favorite part about living abroad?
A. The people. I loved talking to folks and hearing their stories.
Q. What is your least favorite?
A. Finding and access medical services.
Q. How has the cultural differences affected your life abroad? Are there any language barriers? Culture shock stories?
A. I learned both Dutch and Japanese before going to that was not really an issue. Culturally I am rather fluid so that too was not a problem. When in Rome….
Q. Did you notice anything unique about being a man living abroad? Did being Africa-American impact your everyday life abroad?
A. Ah. That did affect my interactions. In Europe, I would get the cold shoulder sometimes. Then (they) would realize I was not from Africa and would become friendly. I was in northern Japan and there is no military there. So most folks have never interacted with a person of color. So they didn’t know how to approach me. Which is understandable. Overall, most people did not understand that there are so many types of (African-American) men. We are not cutouts from same cloth.
Q. What is your favorite memory you have while living abroad?
A. Meeting my wife and the mother of my daughter.
Q. How is it making friends abroad? Do you have any dating experiences?
A. Well, it could be lonely at times. However; the friends I met would great folks. As far as dating, it had challenges. My wife and I have been together for almost 20 years so we’ve overcome a lot.
Q. Do you plan to move abroad in the future?
A. We plan to retire in Japan.
Q. How has living abroad changed your life?
A. I understand myself and those around me much better.
Q. Anything else you’d like to share? Final thoughts on living abroad for someone else considering it.
A. I think everyone should do it. However; leave all manner of pride at home. Be very humble.
Terrence’s story is a unique one. If you have a talent to show the world, take advantage of it. Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions for him! Be sure to contact us if you need any help planning your move abroad. Check out our other interview with a scuba diver living abroad and his tips on how to stay happy while living away from home.