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What is an Expat Chameleon?

Expat Chameleon

I have been living as an expat for a while now, seventeen years to be exact, and if I am honest, adapting to each new place I call home is the key to surviving the expat journey and becoming a true expat chameleon. Every new place brings with it a new lifestyle, a new culture, and, of course, new norms. Adaption is key; it is not only the key to survival, but it is key to ensuring that your new home is exactly that: a place you can call home rather than a place you’ll be living for a short amount of time that never truly feels like a place you belong.

Expat Chameleon

What is an example of an Expat Chameleon?

What is an Expat Chameleon? For example, our first stint in Taiwan was a very different experience from our life here in Singapore. Why? I am the same person now as I was then, or am I? Well, firstly, I had three little children (one was a baby and hadn’t even started school yet), and my life now in Singapore consists of being an empty nester; not only do I not have any kids here, but they are adults who have since finished school and started their own life journeys back home in Australia.

Singapore Expat Living Guide

So, although I am still the same person with the same core beliefs and values, my interests back then were very different from my interests now. If you get the drift, I can now focus on myself and the things I enjoy, with a lot more of my time spent doing adult things with like-minded people.

Secondly, the two countries’ cultures, languages, and customs differ. My hobbies, interests, and friends dictated the time I spent there. There were far fewer foreigners and far fewer choices of activities that I took place in compared to Singapore. My days were spent exploring local tourist spots, trying foreign foods and attending many of the kid’s activities. Although my love of exploration has not waivered, I now explore places that are suited more to my needs than the kids, you know, fewer aquariums and more exciting rooftop bars (if you know what I mean).


What is an Expat Chameleon?

Becoming an expat Chameleon ensures that you do not change your values but are more likely to change your interests and hobbies due to the different activities and interests available in the country you now call home. If I am going to be honest, it doesn’t really stop there, does it? Sometimes, we may live in a country for a very long time, and although your address does not change, your circumstances do. Friends move away, activities that once interested you may not fill your cup anymore, or the kids have repatriated back home or started their own expatriate journey abroad (without you).

So, it is time to start over again, meet new friends, put yourself out there again and find your new tribe of friends. Starting over, changing your stripes and, of course, transitioning into another stage of your life is what makes you a true Expat Chameleon.

coffee catchups

Tips on being an Expat Chameleon

  • Say “yes” to many different things; you never know whether you like something you have never tried.
  • Do not exclude yourself from new friendships or get-togethers. It is hard to start fresh, but it will be worth it in the end.
  • Give people a chance! In another life, you may not have had the same interests, backgrounds, or language that would have brought you together, but life is different abroad. Expand your horizons and let others in.
  • Do not compare your previous life to your life now; this will not end well and make you more homesick than anything else.
  • Join a group, association or club that will allow you to meet people with like-minded interests.
  • Do not be afraid to go alone, whether to a team sport, tour, club, or even coffee morning! We have all been there; you are not the first!
  • Research the local community events, club groups, or associations that might offer you the chance to meet locals and expats in your neighbourhood.
  • Be vulnerable! Be honest with people if you are new, feeling a little lost, or lonely. We have all been there and can definitely relate to your situation.

How to find your tribe

Head over to our latest episode of Truly Expat Podcast, where we chat with Kerry Low, ANZA’s General Manager, who discusses how she became an Expat Chameleon, and how ANZA (Australian And New Zealand Association) is a great way to find your tribe in Singapore. Keep an ear out for the next few episodes with the series “Finding your tribe; Expat Chameleon” is an emphasis on chatting to a number of expats in Singapore and hearing about their journey.

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