My Expat Story: Al McCullough

My Expat Story: Al McCullough

A Canadian expat in Pedasi, Panama

At Global Living Magazine we want to connect with our readers. We want to know what you’re all about, what you love, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. The best way to do this? Hear it straight from you!*

We received an email from Canadian expat Al McCullough who lives in the beach town of Pedasi, Panama. Al, 38, and his wife quit the rat race and moved to Panama to find and reconnect with their passions in life. Here is his Expat Story.

AlMcCulloughWhat’s your favorite part of expatriate life?
Meeting other expats from around the world and learning their back-story. I love movies and have written screenplays before. What makes movies so great are the characters, and I find that meeting people is like meeting characters. Some are colorful, some are very off-color. Some have a big effect on your life, while others become supporting characters in your own movie of life. One thing many expats have in common though is that they are truly and genuinely nice people.

What’s been the hardest part?
Rolling with the punches, so to speak. It’s so much easier said than done. Here in Panama, when things don’t go as planned people say, “Well, T-I-P…This Is Panama”. Or you’ll see someone looking for advice or venting in forums but they’ll get replies like “If you don’t like it, leave”. That’s always tough because you want to help make things better or offer advice/opinions, but sometimes you can’t – be it a language or cultural barrier or not wanting to get into it with someone online. We’ve faced a lot of adversity so far, and you think to yourself, “Is it really this hard for everyone or just us”? But that’s where my answer to question 1 comes in. You meet so many nice people and you can discuss things with them, or just vent if you need to.

Where have you lived around the world? Favorite places?
I’ve lived most of my life in Ontario, Canada (mainly near Toronto) and some time in Banff, Alberta, and now in Pedasi, Panama. During Canadian winters my favorite place is Panama. Not just for the weather, but for the ability to enjoy the outdoors. But summer in Canada is pretty awesome too. The sky stays lit from 5 a.m. to well past 9 p.m. And I love baseball and Toronto has the only MLB team in Canada.

Where do you want to move to eventually?
When my wife and I were looking for our first house about twelve years ago, we saw six or seven homes that we knew right away were not for us. When we entered the house we eventually bought, it smelled like cat pee and was filthy dirty and outdated. But we saw the potential and knew right away we found the house we were looking for. The same goes with where I want to move. I don’t know yet, and I’ll have to look around some more…but I’m confident that I’ll know it when I see it.

What’s your sense of ‘home’? 
Canada will always be ‘home’ for me. It’s where I was born and raised. And it’s a beautiful country — I haven’t even seen all of it yet. That being said, being comfortable in my surrounding and being able to develop a routine I enjoy and can thrive on is very important.

Share anything else you’d like us to hear! 
I believe in documenting your journey, be it via a blog or your own written diary. You can track your thoughts, your experiences, how you’ve grown, how you’ve changed (for better or worse). Writing a blog has been so important for me. I’ve always enjoyed comedy, have performed stand-up myself, and written comedic screenplays. Now as I blog, I always try to find the funny side of things rather than dwell on the negative. We’re surrounded by so much negativity in this world it’s hard to get away from it. My blog helps me stay positive and (hopefully) provides a few laughs, chuckles, giggles, smiles and smirks to others.

Keep up with Al’s expat adventures by following him on Twitter at @_AlMcCullough or Instagram at Panama_dude and check out his blog www.panamadude.com.

*If you’d like to be featured on our ‘My Expat Story’ section, send an email to Alison at info@globallivingmagazine.com and tell us about your experience as an expatriate by answering the above questions. Don’t forget to include a picture of yourself, your website/blog information, and/or Twitter handle so we can help you connect with other expats from around the world!

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