It’s hard to believe that I’ve already crossed the eight-year mark on my third overseas work experience here in Saudi Arabia. Life as an expat offers many fantastic opportunities on various fronts, but it also comes with some challenges.
I recently spoke to a fellow Canadian expat and colleague, Michelle Ponto, for a podcast episode covering a wide range of topics from how to embark on an overseas work adventure, adjusting to life in a new country, and overcoming the stigma of travelling alone.
She penned her thoughts in a book published in 2018 entitled "Go Solo: How to have fun without the plus one." Michelle explains how she made it her mission to explore the world on her own and living life to its fullest.
Michelle currently lives in Antwerp, Belgium and works across the border in the Netherlands. She previously spent several years working in Saudi Arabia and the United-States, after leaving her native Canada. We discuss our common experiences living and working overseas and how we're sometimes seen as extraterrestrial beings by our friends and family.
Travel in the COVID-19 era
Of course, we couldn't have a conversation about travel during the coronavirus era without addressing the fact that all forms of travel have been restricted as the world has been on lockdown for the past several months.
Interestingly enough, I thought it was a big sacrifice for me, earlier in the year, to use up the lion share of my vacation days in February to experience the Rio Carnaval – a huge item I was able to take off the old bucket list – as well as to visit the Amazon forest and Brazil's indigenous people. It saddens me to see the ravages that COVID-19 has since wrought on Brazil and its particularly vulnerable indigenous population.
Michelle gives us a first-hand account of what it's currently like planning trips and yours around Europe as the EU is opening up again.