The Expat Chronicle

Tales of an American family living abroad through the hectic, the humbling and the hilarious!

4 Qualities Being an Expat Won’t Change…

(3 minute read)

It’s inevitable that choosing to uproot your life and move abroad to another country will forever change you. In some ways, such as language development and cultural appreciation, for the better. In other ways, such as gaining some extra pounds indulging in the local cuisine, for the less.

But after almost two years living abroad, I can confidently say there are a few things about myself personally that are planted in my American Central New Jersey identity and will probably never change. Whether I plant myself in Barcelona or Brisbane, it’s who I am.

And you know what? I’m totally okay with that!

Our Party of Five

First off, I’m pretty LOUD. When I was little my parents took me to get my ears checked because they thought the volume of my voice was due to a lack of hearing! Truth is, I’m just not a whisperer – which probably explains why my children aren’t either (eye roll). I talk rather loudly, greet others perhaps louder than the norm. And for SURE, my laugh reaches a rather impressive volume. It’s just how I express myself I guess!

And let me be clear, the Spanish are NOT loud (unless of course marching down La Rambla for the referendum or cheering at a Barca futbol match!) You never hear them chatting loudly on the bus or shouting their kids’ names across the playground. Needless to say, I’ve tried to become more mindful of my volume since living in Barcelona!

Second, I’m a SPEED walker. I will literally mow people over on the sidewalk! It’s not because I’m trying to be rude or am running late, despite the reputation of Americans racing through their day. I just like getting there quickly, no “dilly-dallying” – ya know? I was always taught in business to “walk with a purpose”, even if that purpose is right back to bed.

And once again the Spanish are NOT, I repeat NOT, fast walkers. It’s part of their relaxed culture, which I admit I envy and loathe at the same time. They stroll happily, leisurely…and usually right in the middle of the sidewalk. Which means what for me? I’m weaving left and right around these people like a Formula 1 driver. Unless I’m sleepwalking down the city streets of Barcelona, I don’t ever see my pace slowing down.

Next, I’m TOUCHY-FEELY. Okay, I’ll blame this one on my upbringing – in a good way! My family has always been huggers, hand shakers, arm linkers. People that aren’t afraid or offended to show affection. And guess what?! SO are the Spanish! Grown mothers and daughters holding hands. Men greeting one another with double-cheek kisses. Youngsters in their 20s showing a borderline amount of PDA on the street. So naturally I feel right at home, yes? At times…

But if your children attend an international school, like mine do, families from all over the globe have very different views of “touchy”. Certain cultures simply don’t allow it, which I come to respect. Though at first, I was oblivious and would embrace people like dear family. I just get a little overly excited with new people. Oops! Lessons learned? YES! But still, I’ll never change and always prefer a hug over a handshake haha.

And last, I’m SARCASTIC. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved a witty remark with a great punchline and topped off with a heap of sarcasm. This is where the British friends we’ve met here have won my heart over! The Brits are totally hilarious, dry and SARCASTIC – it just tickles me.

It also reminds me of home. My sisters. My friends. I totally understand that some cultures might not embrace the same type of humor or erupt in laughter at the same jokes. But to me it’s refreshing and for that, I’ll always hold onto it.

Me and my beautiful sisters – two of the funniest, most sarcastic people you’ll meet!

Changes happen around us every day and it’s easy as an expat to get wrapped up in some “idea” of ourselves in our new home country. However, what’s helped us through some of the more trying days has been staying grounded in who we are and where we come from.

I’m as thankful for that as I am for this incredible experience as a whole!

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17 Comments

  1. Jill mendes March 15, 2019

    Oh loo!!! What an awesome article! Never forget where you came from! 🙂 couldn’t be prouder of you!!! Love you!

    • Lauren Covino-Smith March 15, 2019 — Post Author

      Thanks girly!! I know I had you laughing especially about touchy-feely haha! Love you so much and appreciate the neverending story, i mean support LOL!

  2. Becky napp March 15, 2019

    Loveeee this and loveeee you!!! I adore all these qualities about you!!! Such a great read!!! Can’t wait for the next article!!!!!

    • Lauren Covino-Smith March 15, 2019 — Post Author

      Same to you Bee!! All the same qualities and so many more 🙂 Love you to pieces!!

  3. Anthony March 15, 2019

    Wouldn’t have you any other way!!!

    • Lauren Covino-Smith March 15, 2019 — Post Author

      Where would I be without you? I cant imagine going through this journey with anyone else but YOU!

  4. Mom March 15, 2019

    Love. Love this blog Loo!
    You are such a blessing to me and have always been who God wanted you to be… Amazing you!
    Louder than most…I call it outgoing…Sarcastic… the most witty sense of humor that I cherish and Love so so much!! “Touchy Feely”…LOL …super affectionate directly from your enormous heart!
    I love you from the bottom of my heart….uniquely you!

  5. Mom March 15, 2019

    Love,love this blog loo! Your amazing talent shined thru yet again!
    You loud?… hahaha…It’s just your excitement about anything & everything!. Sarcastic…it’s your dry funny & contagious sense of humor that i totally love…you three girls together…over the top. “Touchy Feely”… i guess thats an italian family trait…oppps!
    Never change…you are perfect& i am blessed. Love You!

    • Lauren Covino-Smith March 16, 2019 — Post Author

      hahaha awwwh!!! this made me smile from ear to ear and touched my heart!!! Of course everything I am I owe to you and dad – even the sarcasm and booming volume of my voice hahaa! love you so very much and thank you as always for the neverending support 🙂

  6. Joanne brenner March 16, 2019

    love reading your story…it’s so wonderful to hear your adventures abroad. This blog really does say it all – love you and your family – you could be a brenner, ha ha!!!!

    • Lauren Covino-Smith March 16, 2019 — Post Author

      Hahaha that is so kind of you joanne! I appreciate those encouraging words more than you know. Miss and love you all, sending hugs from across the sea 🙂

  7. Joan Booker March 20, 2019

    so glad to have your new website and catch up on your latest adventures. Truly Appreciate your honest and informative writing on various expat topics.

    Recently i have been reading through some old letters and am constantly amazed at what I have forgotten through the years. I believe you will find your blogs to be a treasure in years to come! LOve, Aunt Joan

    • Lauren Covino-Smith March 20, 2019 — Post Author

      So happy you found the new site aunt joan! Make sure to subscribe with your email so you don’t miss any of the newest articles 🙂 I couldn’t agree more, it’s so much fun looking back and reflecting on photos and letters – this is one of the main reasons I started the blog! Love you!

  8. Caroline March 24, 2019

    I Love your sarcasm! And I’m glad our British humour fits in with yours too 🙂

    I totally relate to the ‘leisurely pace’ of our Spanish communities here – it makes me question why I’m racing through life!

    We love you – don’t ever change!

    • Lauren Covino-Smith March 25, 2019 — Post Author

      Hahaha thought you would laugh at that and it’s surely true! 😁

  9. Cole Largent April 22, 2019

    Hi, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get alot of spam feedback? If so how do you protectagainst it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?I get so much lately it’s driving me insane soany assistance is very much appreciated.

    • Lauren Covino-Smith April 22, 2019 — Post Author

      Ugh I can relate and do get some from time to time. Really the best way to manage it is just to report and mark SPAM for each.

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