Photo Credit: Courtesy of Christina Belloge
This Serial Expat Has Been Moving Around Europe For The Past 14 Years
Thirty-nine-year-old Christina Belloge, has spent half of her life traveling, and the last 14 years moving around Europe. The social media marketing consultant and founder of Melanin Travels Magic is of Guadeloupean descent and grew up in France.
She has traveled to over 40 countries, 20 of them within the last six years: Japan, Qatar, U.A.E., Iceland, U.S., Canada, Cuba, Cape Verde, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Morocco, Norway, Ghana, Italy, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Two amazing destinations which take the cake for Christina are Cuba and Ghana.
“In Cuba I loved experiencing the authenticity of the culture. I was welcomed so well. It really gave me confidence back in my Caribbean identity.”
“As for Ghana, the year of return was so magical. There were about 1-million people from the African Diaspora gathering to celebrate the culture and New Year, and to take part in the music festivals.”
Although Christina began traveling with her parents as a child, her expat journey began when she moved to London at age 22 to be with her British boyfriend.
“When I first moved there, I had to start from scratch and learn the basics, as it was my first time not living with my parents. I had to find a job and a place to live. I had to learn how to cook and take care of myself. My boyfriend soon left to study in Birmingham and I stayed in London having to navigate the big city alone.”
“I eventually found my way, and in just a year, I became fluent in English, which helped me tremendously. For the next few years, I bounced between the U.K. and France as I worked on a Double Franco-British Master in international trade, and then landed a job at a start-up after graduating.”
“My first time in Germany came six years later, when I received an offer for a job that would require me to move to Düsseldorf, Germany. I chose to accept it and take the opportunity to discover Germany. The whole process, including the interview, job offer, and relocation, took me about a month. It was fast, but I was eager for the change in scenery and excited to learn new skills, a new culture, and a new language.”
“My settling in was made easier thanks to my relocation agent. She was very efficient and had lived in 15 countries and spoke six languages. She introduced me to other expats of a similar background and left me with a welcome brochure containing everything from my work itinerary and info on the area’s English-speaking doctors, to directions on using public transportation and where to go to the supermarket.”
Christina says she has certainly faced challenges living in different countries.
“There is always a bit of a culture shock at first. In the U.K. I had to get used to the driving on the opposite side of the road, different attitudes towards work or dating, and even things like greeting your neighbors in the morning. I would say in the U.K. they take on responsibilities from a younger age than in France, which is a more traditionalist country.”
“Other places in the U.K. were not as welcoming as London. I lived in the Midlands for three months in Staffordshire but wasn’t welcomed very well by the local population then. Also, in Stoke-on-Trent, my foreign friends and I were always discriminated against as far as transportation and being denied entry into nightclubs.”
“In Germany, I felt a big sense of nationalistic pride and a bit less open-mindedness. People there are very straightforward, which comes as a shock at first. Also, Amsterdam turned out to be so much more expensive than I initially thought. And despite it being a cool city when visiting, I felt so lonely all the time while living there. Visiting a place as a tourist and living there are two totally different experiences.”
Still, Christina is grateful for every part of her journey and the ways in which her experiences have helped mold her into the woman she is today.
“I’m thankful to have been able to pursue my teenage dreams of having an international career, living in several countries, learning languages, developing new friendships, and spending my adult years living and traveling abroad. It has helped me become independent and grow out of my comfort zone.”
“Traveling in general has made me more aware of other cultures and has helped me with my mental health by allowing me to recharge and disconnect. I work mostly in advertising/marketing and my work tends to follow me around. I love to visit countries where I don’t have roaming Wi-Fi and can get a real digital detox, experience the food, go hiking, swim, do a few excursions.”
“Traveling has left me with unforgettable experiences like being greeted by dolphins on my way back to Holbox Island on Women’s World Day, and spending the most romantic New Year’s Eve with my Italian then-boyfriend in a Chalet House eating traditional cuisine.”
Christina says that despite the current lockdown and travel ban, she is hoping to lead a group tour to Ghana this December.
“It will be the first group tour organized by my company, Melanin Travels Magic. Next year, I will organize a Trip to Brazil for Rio’s Carnival and visit Salvador, as well. I would like to personally visit Guadeloupe, my motherland, as well as Cartagena and Palenque in Colombia.”
You can follow Christina on Instagram: @tina_celli.