Photo Credit: Alexis Terry Black Expat In Vietnam
The Black Expat: 'Living In America I Wasn't As Free As I Was Made To Believe'
America never felt like home for Alexis Terry. At a young age, she had already lived in Germany and visited several countries across Europe because her family was in the military.
‘When I got out of the military, the thought of moving back to Germany was constant,” Terry said. “However, I told myself I would stay in the States, finish school and try my best to live the ‘American Dream.'”
But the American Dream felt more like a nightmare, and Terry told Travel Noire in an interview that she knew she wouldn’t stay for long.
“The constant killing of innocent Black men, women and children by the hands of police, was something that caused me a great amount of anger and began to eat away at my spirit. After the 2016 election, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I left for good.”
As soon as Terry decided she would leave the United States, she got on YouTube and started researching Southeast Asia where she stumbled upon Black women living in Vietnam.
Terry, who currently lives in Vietnam, discusses more on how she made the move and how it’s better for her mental health.
Travel Noire: How did you decide on Vietnam?
Alexis T.: I lived in South Korea for about a year and a half and I really enjoyed being in this region of the world. When I decided that I was leaving the States, I got on YouTube and started researching countries in Southeast Asia, and Vietnam videos just really stood out to me. I stumbled upon two Black women expats who lived here, and they seemed to really enjoy their lives in Vietnam.
It was so important for me to see these Black women in a country where they felt safe living here alone. Vietnam is also an incredibly cheap country to live in. You can find great apartments for all budgets, and monthly living expenses are a fraction of what it costs to live in the States. For as little as $1000 a month, someone can live a very comfortable life here.
One of my final deciding factors was that Vietnam has some of the best visa options for travelers and expats. US passport holders qualify for a one-year multi-entry visa. You just have to leave the country every 3 months. Most people use that time to visit another country for a few days before returning to Vietnam. You can renew this visa as many times as you want.
Travel Noire: What is the best part about living abroad, and what have you learned about yourself as an expat?
Alexis T.: One of the best parts of living abroad is just how free I feel. Living here, I realize that we really aren’t as free as we were made to believe living in America. I carried around a certain heaviness with me in America. I always felt stressed. I just wasn’t happy. There are days here when I’m just riding around the city on my motorbike, and I suddenly start tearing up. I think to myself, “I really live in Vietnam, and I’m actually truly happy with my life.” It’s the best feeling.
There is a wonderful culture of a proper work/life balance here. People work, but don’t wait until the weekend to go out and have fun. Hanging out with friends at bars and cafes is an everyday occurrence. Expats here really take advantage of the fact that we can hop on a cheap flight to another beautiful country and relax for a few days before returning and going to work. It’s just a wonderful way to live.
Living here has taught me so much about myself. The main thing it’s taught me is that my wants and needs in life are quite simple. I want to live in a place where I can be at peace and live a simple life. My life here is so different from how I lived in the States. I went from a 3-bedroom house in Houston to a 1-bedroom apartment here for my first 2 years. I went from driving a luxury car to now driving a little green motorbike. I don’t feel the need to buy things that I really don’t need. I use that money to treat myself to massages and facials and travel. I take so much better care of myself here, and I love it. I’m just a better person all around.
Travel Noire: What advice would you give our readers considering a “Blaxit” to live abroad, especially in light of what’s going on?
Alexis T: My advice would be if the thought has crossed your mind to leave, then do it. Don’t let fear stop you from doing something that could potentially change your life for the better. Sometimes as Americans we think that living there is as good as it gets, but I’m here to tell you that there is so much more out here in this world that you should experience. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t leave sooner.
Given the recent events, I feel that there is just no more denying that America is not a place where Black people will ever be treated as equal. We have become accustomed to living in a country that has intentionally made things harder for us since we were first brought to America.
I’m here to tell you that you can do so much better. Once you leave, a weight will be lifted off your shoulders, and you will wonder how you ever stayed there that long. The effects of weathering are taking their toll on Black Americans. We truly don’t realize how much living there affects so many aspects of our lives and health. We have had to deal with years of fighting for the same rights and privileges that white Americans receive.
We are worn out. We deserve to live happy and free lives like anyone else. It is truly possible once you leave. Please do yourself that favor and leave when you can. You owe it to yourself to give you the best life you deserve.
Travel Noire: Lastly, is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Alexis T: When it comes to planning your Blaxit please do your research. There is a wealth of knowledge online such as blogs and YouTube.
Be open to considering different countries around the world, what works for someone may not be right for you.
Lastly, for all my fellow veterans out there, if you receive a stipend or retirement from the military and you are unhappy, put that money to use and leave. That money will go much further in another country than it will in America.
Feel free to follow my travel and expat journey on Instagram. I hope to continue to inspire my brothers and sisters out there to let go of that fear and take a chance on themselves. You deserve the best that life has to offer. The life you’ve dreamed of is possible. You just have to want it enough to go after it. Leave.