Design Your Life

The Black Expat: ‘I Moved Abroad Because I Didn’t Know Anything Else’

By DeAnna Taylor

Share

Meet Melissa who is 25 and hails from Northern Virginia. She grew up bouncing from country to country with her family. She attended school in Swaziland, Japan, South Africa, and South Korea. She graduated from high school in Korea, went to college in Texas, and then went overseas to work right after graduation.

 

She worked as a special education teacher in Stuttgart, Germany and Bucharest, Romania. Now, she is living out her passion by teaching drama at a bilingual school in Milan, Italy.

 

We had the chance to speak with her about her life as a black expat.

 

RELATED: The Black Expat: ‘I Quit My Job And Moved To Thailand’

 

Travel Noire: What does being an expat mean to you?

Melissa: Being an expat is all about duality– you have two homes and two families. You have your home country and culture, which you take with you everywhere, with your home family that supports you and welcomes you back any time. Then you have your home abroad, which fills you with experiences you might not otherwise get, and connects you with a “chosen family” of people who love to travel and experience life the way you do.

 

Photo courtesy of Melissa

 

TN: Why did you choose the “expat life?’

Melissa: Because I didn’t know anything else! I grew up experiencing different cultures as frequently as my own, and it was never a question that I wouldn’t stay still for long. It was important to me that I was able to go to university (college) in the US, but after that I was ready to go! I’ve never once regretted that choice.

 

TN: What challenges do you face while being black and abroad?

Melissa: The refugee crisis in Europe definitely shaped people’s first impressions of me, as many assumed from appearances that I was coming from a war-torn country in Africa or the Middle East. I’ve also experienced more men telling me outright that I don’t look “European enough” and therefore were not interested. But more than anything, there’s just a lot of people who have little to no experience with black people, and don’t know where to start with their interactions.

 

Photo courtesy of Melissa

 

TN: What do you enjoy most about living abroad?

Melissa: I think the best part about living overseas is the network you build. After living abroad as a child and as an adult, I have so many friends in so many places– I never pay for hotels anymore! It’s also so special when you get to connect with someone because of a mutual friend on another continent. It really drives home that the world isn’t really all that big.

 

The best part about being a black woman overseas is that you find an immediate connection with the other black girl in the room/workplace/bar… it’s magnetic. My best friend and I met that way in Germany!

 

RELATED: The Black Expat: From An Extended Vacation To Living in Vietnam

 

TN: Do you plan to move back to America?

Melissa: I don’t plan to, no. Until teachers are given the same dignity and pay as teachers in other countries, I don’t think I could be convinced to move back. I also feel much safer overseas, particularly with the increase in violence in schools. But I love America as a place to visit (and eat)!

 

Photo courtesy of Melissa

 

TN: What advice can you give to our readers looking to do what you are doing?

Melissa: International school teaching is an incredible opportunity for teachers already licensed in the US, and I couldn’t recommend it more! However, I’ve seen many teachers take the plunge without seeing if they would actually like being overseas first. I would recommend spending at least a few weeks overseas to make sure it’s the right life for you. Try it before you buy it.

 

TN: Where can people reach you if they have questions?

Melissa: I’m on Instagram as @wilde_one_

Share
Travel Noire

DeAnna Taylor

DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.

Want more?

Get exclusive, unpublished tips from Travel Noire's CEO to help you get off the beaten path, into the hearts of locals and onto a better, more cultured life.

The Black Expat: ‘If I Can Do It, You Can Do It Too’

The Black Expat: ‘If I Can Do It, You Can Do It Too’

Pittsburgh native Rocco Brown made the leap in 2017 to pack up his life in America and relocate across the globe. In his almost 3 years abroad, he has seen and done things that many travelers only dream of. We spoke with Rocco to see what led him to move abroad and how he is […]

DeAnna Taylor

The Black Expat: ‘Brazil Lead Me To South Korea & I Embraced The Unknown’

The Black Expat: ‘Brazil Lead Me To South Korea & I Embraced The Unknown’

For St. Croix native and former Florida resident Mikyba Cooper, figuring out life post-college was still up in the air. After spending some time living and working in Brazil for an internship, she realized that she wanted to travel and create new experiences for herself. So, after doing some research on her own, she made […]

DeAnna Taylor

The Black Expat: ‘The Loss Of My Mother, Father, And Sister Led Me To Move Abroad’

The Black Expat: ‘The Loss Of My Mother, Father, And Sister Led Me To Move Abroad’

South Carolina native Danielle Kirkland spent over 15 years teaching in schools across Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas. After losing several immediate family members, she made the decision to pack up her and her 12-year old son’s lives and start over half way across the world. She is now teaching in Ras al Khaimah, […]

DeAnna Taylor