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How Expat Life Intersects with Maslow's Theory

Blending my work and lifestyle together - Student Affairs at Work

As an expat or digital nomad, you can have a life of being on the go. You may change your country every few years or cities every few weeks. In either case, you might find yourself managing some typical interpersonal emotions associated with your chosen lifestyle. Being an expat myself, I find that my path has been filled with a constant change in relationships. Actually, this can be quite common for many of us who are global wanderers and have a life of being globally mobile. The following topics are not often talked about, but quite often experienced by expats and digital nomads alike.

Farewells are Common

Goodbye wording on a blue background
Renee Fisher/Unsplash

The transient life of being an expat or digital nomad is geared toward “hello,” “goodbye,” and sometimes saying “let’s keep in touch.” Life as a road warrior requires an understanding that continually being on the road means always saying hello and goodbye. I am sure we can all admit that, at times, it can be exhausting to build relationships from scratch weekly or yearly. In the back of your mind somewhere, you know that inevitably you, or those with whom you have built these relationships, will eventually say farewell. Moving around the world can be a strange dynamic of short-circuiting your level of emotional or psychological investment. Sometimes the longer you are a road warrior, the easier it becomes to tear yourself away from a familiar location and the connection you have made.

Having No Roots

Tree roots spreading down a rock hillside
Periklis Lolis/Unsplash

In our society, we have roots such as a home, a career, a life routine, and association with a physical community in a permanent sense. This equates to stability. However, digital nomads or expats are thought of as persons with no family or roots. They are often considered to lack stability and are encouraged to settle down in one location. However, they view roots in a community differently. The vast digital networking and the expat community view each location as their community. It is how they are rooted in the commonality of being with persons living a similar lifestyle. For a global road warrior, the community is virtual via technology and physical for the time they are in a specific location. Persons who are not a part of the lifestyle might find this shifting notion of community to be ambiguous and abstract. For expats and digital nomads, they can be grounded as part of the physical, local neighborhood they are spending their immediate time.