This is part nine in my new Expat Interview Series, where I interview interesting expats around the world. I’m hoping this series of posts will provide some insight into what it is like to live overseas, and might even encourage a few people to pack their bags and make the move!
Meet Melissa Giroux, a digital nomad from Quebec, Canada, who has been living abroad for more than two years. Melissa currently lives in England and works as a digital nomad. Before she moved to the UK, she lived in Australia for almost two years and travelled extensively around Southeast Asia. Mel writes about all her adventures of her travel blog A Broken Backpack where you can follow her colourful travels.
What made you move abroad?
I wanted to try the nomadic lifestyle and have a life of travel. As my budget was quite limited, I had no other choice; I had to move abroad on a working-holiday visa.
How long have you been living abroad?
I’ve been living abroad now for two and a half years.
What is the most difficult thing about living so far from home?
I reckon the hardest part is to deal with the stuff happening at home. In two years, a lot of things happened. My best friend got pregnant (and I missed all of it), my Mum’s situation got worse (she has Multiple Sclerosis) and I fell in love on the road. When something big happens, you realize how far you really are and this can be painful especially if you’re on your own.
How did you make friends when you first arrived?
When I moved to Australia, I found a flat share with other backpackers or International students. We were basically 11 people sharing a pretty modern flat in Sydney. Fair enough, it was, perhaps, too many people, but they became my temporary family.
Then, I fell in love and travelled across Australia with the boyfriend, who is English. And here I am, in England.
What do you love the most about being an expat?
I love the challenge of getting out of my comfort zone to learn how to become comfortable somewhere else. I became a farmer in Australia for a quite a while, and in the end, I learned how to appreciate this lifestyle.
Now that I concentrate on my blog and on my digital nomadism, I love the freedom behind it. As long as I have WiFi, I can live wherever I want.
Has anything funny happened due to cultural differences or language barriers?
Of course, and it still happens a lot! I’m a French Canadian, so it was a big challenge to move to Australia. I wasn’t perfectly bilingual back then and I was struggling to understand the magnificent Aussie accent. I tried to be a waitress. It lasted one night. Here I was, trying to pick the order from one of our customers. He ordered a green tea. Well, he did but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I had to make him repeat three times before I left the table to go see my boss to confess; I had no idea what he wanted. It was quite challenging. But, in the end, I did manage to become an expert in dairy farming with a whole new English vocabulary.
How do you cope when things are going badly?
I’m not always very good especially when it concerns my Mum. I get overstressed easily so I might have been that girl crying in that mixed twelve bed dorm in Cambodia. But, somehow, I always managed to get through everything. I simply need to remember that it could be worse and I’ll learn something from it. Backpacking across Southeast Asia helped me let go of a lot of things.
Do you think you travel a lot more now because you live overseas?
Well, as a Canadian, it’s quite hard to travel long distances or even in my own country. For some reason, flights are very pricey which is annoying. Moving to Australia was a smart move for me as I could play around the neighbourhood; New Zealand, Japan, Southeast Asia… There was a lot more possibilities. Now that I live in Europe, it’s also easier (and cheaper) to travel around.
What are your future plans?
As long as I live in England, I’ll be travelling once a month in other countries around here. I’ll be here for another few months and then, there’s a possibility that we will move to New Zealand. We’re not quite sure yet, but we’ll see what 2017 has in the bank for us.
If you could give one piece of advice about moving abroad, what would it be?
Embrace everything. The time will fly by so make the most of it! You’ll always remember this time when you were living in…