Skimming through my email inbox from my ipad, I recently came across a newsletter from an expat site I occasionally browse.
One of the articles was titled "self-made expat", a term new to me but describing me to a tee!
Expatriatism is growing all around the world with better living conditions, job offers and the thrill of travel all large factors. But I'm not any usual expat.
I didn't get sent to Malaysia by a company, neither did I relocate here with my whole family for any specific reason. I have a number of expat friends, mostly in Kuala Lumpur, who were sent here on a working assignment with their company from back home. It usually lasts for 2 or 3 years before the contract is up and they return home.
I am a self-made expat.
I came here to Malaysia with no job, no money, all by myself. My Malaysian fiancee and later, wife, was the reason I expatriated to Malaysia.
Another factor was that I already knew Malaysia very well after living there for 2 years before I met Fidelia. I had already developed a love for the place, the people and the lifestyle.
Nobody sorted out my flight tickets. Nobody took care of a work placement and contract for me. Nobody took the time to organise insurance plans for me. Nobody transported all of my possessions half way around the world for me.
I am a self-made expat.
I took what I could in my suitcase and completely started my life over in Kuantan, just me and my wife. Now that sounds scary, and for a short while it was, but it has also provided me with an immense sense of achievement and satisfaction. I made it! I started with nothing, in a foreign town and country, and made it!
I'm also unlike other expats in that I don't really mix with fellow expats at all. I am immersed into life with the local Malaysians. My wife and I have found some magnificent Malaysian friends, both here in Kuantan and around the country. I couldn't ask for anything more in my life. Several years ago, it was an impossible dream.
We send our daughter to the local kindergarten. When I'm sick I go to the local clinic or hospital. We go shopping down the road and buy Malaysian food. In another 4 years I'm planning to become a Permanent Resident and have my own IC card.
Rather than living the 'expat life', I'd say I'm living the 'Malaysian life.'
2013 marks 7 years of living as a self-made expat in Kuantan, Malaysia. 7 exciting years where I've grown a lot, have my dream job, am my own boss, and best of all, there is no expiration date for my time here!