Always looking to embrace the new

Expat partner France Crespin has been an expat all her life. We asked her to share some of her experiences of, and thoughts on, relocating and starting over.

Always excited to move

“I’m always excited to move to a new place, even if there are also goodbyes. To move to another country, and adapt to its culture, means experiencing an enrichment,” says France. “In the US, where we lived for the last 14 years, we didn’t see ourselves as expats. We bought a house. We established deep roots. It became home in every sense. But even when we lived for shorter periods of time in places such as Paris, Amsterdam and Dubai, we always said, ‘Well you never know – we might just stay here…’”

Committing to the new place

“If you have a return ticket, and know when you’re leaving, perhaps it holds you back. I believe you shouldn’t view the time you have as temporary – even if it is! I believe you have to commit to the place as best you can. When you do that you will likely enter into a new community and experience something deeper, long lasting…”

Seek out the new

“When you relocate, you can easily count all of the things that you think you will miss. Every time I have relocated, I have always had some product that I believed is essential – vanilla sugar from France, chocolate sprinkles from Holland – but I’ve always found something new to replace it. In general, I feel it’s better to move light. Sometimes you just have to let things go. I have also found it’s better to ask questions about a new location than to talk about my previous experiences. People are usually happy to hear your story, but just once!”

New horizons, new possibilities

“I’ve always tried to take new directions. In Dubai I worked for the chamber of commerce. In the US, I have worked in fundraising and then set up a business. My advice to others is don’t look for the same. Twenty-five years ago, a woman said to me that my husband’s expat career would go steadily upward but my career would go in loops and spirals, sometimes up and sometimes down. But my answer to her at the time was: ‘Well, which is more interesting?’  And indeed, I love that I have been able to reinvent myself many times over and take new, interesting paths.”

Photo: France and her family