I have spent a lot of time living abroad, and have recently been wondering why. My history of being and living abroad is roughly as follows.
I went on a two-week school cruise to Leningrad in July 1968 when I was fourteen. At sixteen, I wrote to the mayor of Rheinfelden, our sister town in Germany asking for a job and accommodation. I worked there in the town gardens for about ten weeks. Then another school cruise when I was seventeen, but in the Mediterranean.
At eighteen, I moved from Barry in South Wales to Portsmouth to study Russian at the polytechnic for four years, which included two six-week study periods in Leningrad and Moscow. I often hitchhiked abroad during the holidays.
After that, at twenty-two, I moved to the Netherlands for nine years and used it as a base to hitch-hike all over western Europe and north Africa. After returning home to Barry for thirteen years, during which, I travelled abroad once or twice a year, I went to live in Thailand for thirteen years.
I went from there to Spain to live and am still there now.
An interesting fact, is that the two other most travelled people in my immediate family are: Owen Jones, my grandfather, who sailed around the world three times in the days of the clippers; and his son, Owen Jones, who spent the last forty years of his life living in the town where I live now, although he lived in other countries too, while in the RAF.
Three generations of Owen Joneses out of a huge family, all travellers.
Is that weird, or what?
What I have been wondering is whether living abroad is an excuse for not having to take part (in society, the family, the local community) because of shyness or the person being a so-called loner?
I know that some ex-pats do take part where they live, but the overwhelming majority do not.
What do you think?
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Podcast: Living Abroad