Welcome. Bienvenidos. Welkom.
I’m Kate Johnson, founder of The Home Wanderers and a person who has plenty of experience being foreign…
I grew up in England until I was 13 years old. Then, my parents dropped the bombshell that our family was moving to the South of France. Cue major culture shock, a new (terrifying) language, horrible homesickness, immense adventure and a life experience that I would never trade for anything else.
Now, I have just done it all over again at the age of 26 and moved to Ontario, Canada!
From my experiences adjusting to a new life in a place far from ‘home’, I have found myself craving access to an expat community where I can speak with people going through the same processes. I thought to myself:
—- How great would it be if there was a place where expatriates could go to really connect with others in their struggles, triumphs, confusion and knowledge?
—- How incredible would it be to share stories of all the amazing places in the world we have moved to and our experiences there?
—- How vital would it be if there was a platform to share tips, advice, counseling and guides? To ask our burning questions to those who have, like me, turned their lives upside down and moved abroad?
SO I DID IT – and I really hope that this expat community grows and I can meet a bunch of the bravest people in the world…
Nice to Meet you!
So what’s my story do I hear you ask?
How did I end up in Canada?
As soon as they invent the time machine I’m travelling back to January 2016!
I would love to see the look on my face as I explained how different my life would soon be. As I packed my enormous backpack on the cramped landing of my Bournemouth house-share, I wouldn’t have believed that I would soon move my whole world across the Atlantic. Canada wasn’t even on my radar.
Unbeknown to me, my simple backpacking adventure to South-East Asia was about to shake my life’s core. I had no idea that my path would change directions so quickly that I wouldn’t even have time to catch my breath...
I was 24 years old and I wanted it all. The mystery of Angkor Wat, the crystal clear oceans, the white sand as soft as sawdust in between my toes, the taste of Pad Thai sizzling on a street cart, the unbeatable multi-coloured sunsets, the silence of monks praying in grand golden temples, the energetic bass of beach parties, screaming arguments with drunk boys peeing in the corner of your hostel room at 4 a.m… I DID IT ALL!
Travelling injected pure joy, liberation and self-understanding straight into my heart. I can thank these past 2 years for everything I have today.
I have confidence in what makes me who I am. I have accepted my flaws and personality traits. I have learnt to appreciate everything I have and not all the things that I think I ‘need’. Travelling brought me all of these things, but it also led me to find love.
My Canadian boy who started out as who I decided he was. A flirt. A shirtless boy buying me exotic cocktails at a Thai bar. A thoughtless, shallow male backpacker. A meaningless and fleeting travel romance.
…. But then to my delight, we both made efforts to follow each other.
Determined, we would find out where the other person was heading to next and sneakily convince our groups to copy the same route.
Each time I left a destination (and we would share yet another heart-crushing goodbye), I was always unsure if I would ever see him again. Then, I would spot that carefree, beautiful smile when I checked in at my next stop and all would be well again.
I quickly became drawn to his addictive energy. He made travelling better. He made every experience and each memory more vivid with colour and excitement. He pushed me into activities that I would never have done. He opened up the world and its possibilities to me and convinced me to leave my fears at the door.
I will never forget the feeling of angst as I grew to understand my feelings for him; and that those feelings were reciprocated.
For the next 12 months, we would complete a whirlwind tour together around South-East Asia and Australia. Then, the inevitable decision had to be made. Where is home? Between our two treasured native countries:
Would we settle in England or Canada?
So here I
Isaac and I found adventure together and my solo trip of frivolous discovery became much more than that. It became a journey to find my true home.
I have ridden the roller coaster of expat life ever since and can truly appreciate and admire the strength that is in me to have come as far as I have.
Moving abroad is undeniably courageous. It comes with tough struggles and endless questions. I truly hope that this expat community helps even one person out there going through it – I look forward to growing together.
I was born in England, became an adult in France, took a leap of faith to Cambodia, challenged who I was in Vietnam, fell in love in Thailand, went it alone in Borneo, conquered my fears in Australia and I’m now building a life in Canada.
Why did you move abroad?
Share your travel romances stories!