These days you can find a blog written by anyone from Albinos to Zookeepers. The blogesphere is expanding at an amazing rate. One of the fastest growing facets of this ever increasing space is Expat Blogging. It seems that Expats have stories to tell to the world and many of them are using a blog to tell them.
I think for many expats, blogging is first a way to keep in touch with people you know. Over time however, it evolves into a way to reach out to others who share your experiences.
I’m not sure if my story is indicative of how most expat bloggers started out. But for me, it’s interesting to look at how my blogging started and where it has taken me.
I’ve had a webpage in some form or other since 1996. I learned HTML in university as part of my journalism degree. Back then, about the most exciting thing on a webpage was blinking text. Ah, those were the days.
Fast forward to 2002, when I decided to study photography full-time. Again, part of my program involved crating a website – this time to showcase my portfolio. While this site was more advanced, it was largely visual.
It wasn’t until 2004, when Andrew and I moved to Amsterdam for three months, that I discovered blogging. I set up a simple website that included photos and an on-line journal. It began as a way to keep in touch with my friends and family back home. I had gotten tired of writing the same stories over and over in multiple e-mails, and the blog allowed me to reach everyone at once. It also helped me re-discover a love of writing that I had put aside for a long time.
When we moved back to Canada I kept running into acquaintances who told me how much they enjoyed reading my blog. I was stunned. I never expected more than a handful of close friends and relatives to check it out.
When Andrew and I moved to Europe the second time around, I kept this in mind. My blog evolved from a personal email to a journal of thoughts and stories and feelings. That was when I started getting emails from people I had never met.
These people were also expats – some in Belgium and others from around the world. They shared my stories. They understood my problems and worries in ways that friends and family back home couldn’t.
I watched my blog evolve again. Now I was also writing to share stories with people who were going through things that I was experiencing.
In the expat blogs I read, I find the same themes: the struggle of being ‘the other’; language issues; cultural differences; and everyday tasks becoming difficult and foreign.
Aside from these negative themes there are also the shared joys of new discoveries; little triumphs of independence gained by learning new words; eating new foods; seeing new sights.
I think so many expats turn to blogging because of this sharing – the good and the bad; the ups and the downs. For me, it is reassuring to know that others have survived the same challenges I face and have achieved goals that I hope to attain.
As expat bloggers and blog readers, whether we are in Belgium or Bangladesh, we can reach out to one another through our stories.