Lifestyle Design

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 writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.

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: Learning How To Be Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

The Black Expat: Learning How To Be Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Meet Lené Hypolite, a 30-year old woman originally from Bermuda. Since the age of 17, Lené has lived in 5 countries across three continents.   She has lived in Bermuda, Venezuela, Toronto, Atlanta, and Amsterdam. She will soon relocate to Singapore for work and also split her time living in Tokyo. Lené holds a Master’s […]

DeAnna Taylor

The Black Expat: From Jobless To Influencing Others To Move Abroad

The Black Expat: From Jobless To Influencing Others To Move Abroad

Meet Nathalie, a fabulous 27-year-old Black Expat from Orlando, Florida. After college, she worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the Together for Tomorrow program with the United Way of Central Florida for a year.   She currently lives in Seoul, South Korea where she works as a middle school English teacher. She has lived […]

DeAnna Taylor

Meet The Black Skydiving Instructor Challenging Stereotypes In Dubai

Meet The Black Skydiving Instructor Challenging Stereotypes In Dubai

Jumping out of a moving plane, on purpose, isn’t necessarily the first thing in our minds when we think about a relaxing vacation. Brandon Johnson, however, jumps out of planes for a living. Brandon is now a full-time certified skydive instructor living and working in Dubai.   The 29-year-old hails from Arlington, Texas. He first moved abroad […]

DeAnna Taylor