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Wondering What It’s Like To Live The Life Of An Expat?

Joanne Socha January 2021 new

Midlife Musing Kuel Life Contributor: Joanne Socha

Thanks to my writing and my luxury travel business, I am able to work from anywhere in the world for extended periods of time. This fits nicely with my recurring vision board theme of living abroad.

In 2020, I spent the first month in Siena, Italy living with an Italian family and attending the Dante Alighieri School to learn Italian. I had intended, like many travelers, to return in the Summer. And in 2019, I spent two months in Europe. There were also protracted periods in Japan as well. However, with all of these immersion experiences, I always had a plane ticket home.

“It’s fun learning from women who are already living the expatriate life.”

I often wonder what it would be like to relocate without having the comfortable fall back position of a home base. As Your Wanderess Host™, I strive to inspire people to fall in love with their world. It’s fun to live vicariously as well, learning from women who are already living the expatriate life. I like to examine what lured them to a particular country, how they adjusted to new cultures, and what spiritual gems they might share.

Talking To An Expat:

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Erin Kurt of Your Elegant Lifestyle. Erin is a Spiritual Teacher and Founder of The Elegant Life. She helps women live an exquisite life of self love, inner peace & prosperity.

Erin, originally from Canada, currently lives in Bodrum, Turkey with her husband and two children. She is a stellar example of someone who has lived in many countries for prolonged times. Paris was the first in her series of moves, at age 25.  Then she lived in Brazil, spent 10 years in the U.K., four years in Dubai before settling in Bodrum, Turkey.

She explained how she accelerated her dream life….and how it materialized way ahead of time.

Erin’s Expatriate Adventures:

Q: Erin, how did you end up in Turkey? And were you ready to move there from Dubai?

My husband had resigned from his job in Dubai last Summer, with a new job starting there in September. We decided to go  to our summer house in Turkey on holiday (my husband is Turkish), hoping to return to Dubai refreshed. When we arrived in Bodrum, after four days we learned that his job had fallen through.

This turned out to be the biggest gift. We decided to stay permanently in Bodrum, at our summer house by the sea. Our vision had been to live here six months a year when our children were raised, but the universe said ‘why wait’ and accelerated it for us. We weren’t necessarily ready at all! We were shocked and stressed because we couldn’t return to Dubai due to COVID restrictions, so we had to close down Dubai life without returning. All of the elegant principles that I teach and follow helped us make the transition. Not that there hasn’t been ‘stuff’. For example, I don’t speak the language, nor do my children.

But I do applaud myself for the ease of the transition.

Q: Do you ascribe to the Howard’s End notion that houses lure their owners?

Yes, because we manifested our present summer house on the sea in Bodrum, which took three years. We had owned a different summer house for six years in a different neighborhood, spending two weeks every summer.

This current house is a house that we absolutely manifested. We used to gaze at this land every time we visited. It had been in the courts forever and was not selling; the land was not available. We would go in the sea via boat or to a neighborhood across the way and focus all of our energy on the land here, staring up at it, and musing about building upon it.   

One year my parents came to visit us there in May and we noticed that the property was under construction. It was a magical story because we don’t normally visit Bodrum in May. We went immediately to the property and just happened to meet the owner, who was building a set of houses, but choosing who he wanted to sell them to. We stood on the land and chose our plot. Perfect timing.

And luckily we managed to sell our Dubai place in one month! As we were a bit short with funding, my husband had a private meeting with the buyer and he drastically reduced the price for us. Without prompting, he asked my husband what he wanted to pay, taking 300 thousand off the price – a true miracle manifestation. We believe we were meant to live there.

Q: Can you please tell me more about your spirituality? Is it God, a higher power, the universe?

I use expressions interchangeably, but divine consciousness resonates with me. Everything is energy at its most basic level, and at zero point energy there is nothingness and everythingness – pure potentiality that is divine consciousness.   This helped me when I was at my lowest point, in a severe depression.

I was gifted a spiritual retreat in Turkey, about clearing stuck energy. One day in particular I had a huge clearing, like a near death experience without the near death part. I was at one with this divine conscious energy. Returning to my body, all depression was gone. Afterwards, everything changed in my life.

Q: How does hearing the incredible call to prayer in such an exotic country interface with your day-to-day?

I am so used to hearing it having lived in Dubai. I do love the fact that it is five times a day. It really resonates with me because I embrace and teach a spiritual lifestyle that you live every day, every moment. It feels very compatible.

Q: What lessons can you share about moving to a new country? I listened to your insta-story about how you were nervous about getting gas alone for the first time.

“It is the confidence muscle that I keep telling women to exercise again and again.”

I always say that the one thing that has helped me is experience – I have been here before. I have found that in every country I have ever lived. It is at the six month mark where you start feeling like you are in the flow. Things are set up and you start to feel more settled. I keep reminding myself of that.

The other thing is when a panic and a fear makes me feel like “DON’T MAKE ME DO IT”  and I want to run away and hide, I say “Erin you can do this. Think of how you will feel after you do this and if you mess up, people are very kind, they will help you, it’s okay if you aren’t perfect.” I coach myself 100% because I know that the fear is trying to keep me comfortable. I also know that when you actually do these things it makes you feel so confident.

My parents are amazed by me. Here is a girl that desperately wanted to do an exchange program but could not because of complete fear, self consciousness, lack of self worth.

From that to a woman driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road in the UK, to parking on sidewalks, and  living in Dubai.

It is the confidence muscle that I keep telling women to exercise again and again. The fear doesn’t go away but you remind yourself and it gets easier. Of course, when there is a language barrier it adds a whole new dimension!    

Q: How did the move affect your business? How has the substantive component of your business changed….has it grown in a different direction?

I have never been more busy. Through all of this the business was a constant for me. The house was a disaster because we had to bring the entire house over from Dubai without returning there, and this house was already furnished so we had to sort through and store.

I would just close the door and come into my office and do my work. I think it kept me aligned – it was consistent and I could count upon it. And I can work from anywhere, like you, Joanne. I always dreamt of this and to have it now is stunning.

Because of the life we now live here, which is the life we were envisioning, I realized that I want to enjoy this lifestyle even more. So how can I enjoy this peaceful, incredibly relaxed lifestyle and at the same time still have the same impact that my soul needs? I am doing less one-on-one and more groups. Women attracted to the Elegant Life have grown with me and have the community that they want, which serves me and them at the same time.

Q: What would you say, Erin, to someone who wants to live abroad and do what you have done? What are your kernels of wisdom for allowing yourself to do it, to take the leap?

“When women don’t grow, they feel depressed and unhappy.”

Anything unknown will feel scary but when you get there, the gifts that you receive are out of this world, more than you will ever be able to understand or dream. Follow what brings you joy and you will always be guided in the right direction. Fear might keep you comfortable, but comfortable isn’t that fun. It doesn’t make you grow. When women don’t grow, they feel depressed and unhappy.

Look to people who have done it. See what they do. I think this is key, as I try to be an example. I show people that it is uncomfortable and I am going through things but I show them all the beauty that comes from it as well. Look at how my confidence is growing, look at all the gifts, look at the joy that I am getting. They can have that too.

It has been an intense four months. We have had a lot of *&^* happen to, to be very blunt. There has been a lot of paperwork, getting our car here was a nightmare. It’s not like every step of the journey is going to be fun but our lives have chapters, and in each one we are called to expand and grow.

When you get to a certain age, living in a different country gives you something different than the experience when you were younger. I think one experiences things in a more beautiful way now. The younger chapters might be more about finding yourself and relationships. At this stage it is a growth experience so give yourself permission to say it isn’t crazy. After you get through that, the gifts happen.

It is about adorning your life…..enjoying it to the fullest expansion of what it can be.

About the Author:

Joanne Socha is the author of The Red Bandanna Travel Book: The Medicine of Traveling, a lawyer turned Luxury Travel Advisor and Your Wanderess Host™ She mentors her clients through their inner and outer journey to celebrate wellbeing and usher in lasting and glorious change into their lives. You can fInd Joanne at joannesocha.com  And, follow her on social: FacebookInstagramTwitter, and LinkedIN