My Expat Story: Asela Fahoum

My Expat Story: Asela Fahoum

An American Arab/Mexican expat living in Isreal

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!*

Asela Fahoum is an American Arab/Mexican expat living in Israel. She’s lived in Los Angeles most of her life and more recently had lived in London while completing her Master’s degree at King’s College. Marrying a Nazareth native has changed her life completely as she now has settled in her father’s homeland pursuing a career in International Conflict.

Where have you lived around the world? Favorite places?

I’ve lived in the United States, Israel, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

I have had unique life experiences in each country, making them special in their own way. Los Angeles is where my family is and where I grew up making it certainly a favorite. It was a love-hate relationship with the city only because it was so well known to me and at times I felt like I had seen it all. I always tried to explore new cafes in Beverly Hills, see new exhibits, take it easy in Santa Monica and Malibu, and simply make the most out of my Cali life with my close friends and family. Oh, and of course – go shopping! As my adorable high school French teacher would say, “I have a black belt in shopping” and LA is one of the best places for that.

Now that I’m away from ‘home’ and living in Nazareth, I miss and appreciate a lot of LA’s awesome features. But Nazareth has always been a magical city to me and it too is one of my favorites. Having lived here as a child and visited throughout the years has made it a very special and grounding city. Now that I’ve married and settled here, my magical city is still twinkling with charm but in different ways and with new challenges.

The only memories I have of living in Mexico City are being with family members and teaching my first grade classmates how to tie their shoes.

Finally, good old London was a wild memory filled with excitement, stress, and so much tea. I spent the year completing my Master’s Degree and it was my first time living abroad alone. I enjoyed the history, the hustle and bustle of the great city; I despised the metro (as I was so used to driving my own car back in LA), but loved the ambiance of modernity meeting historical and traditional. My favorite part about London was the incredible museums it is home to and that made living there alone much easier.

What is your favorite part about expatriate life?

I enjoy seeing new things and being exposed to the raw culture of the country. Just as I did in LA to keep the excitement going, I love playing tourist and planning out new day trips to exhibits or trying new things like fishing and exploring a new city. Site seeing and eating good food in unique cafes with my husband fills my soul with joy. The thrill of living in a new country motivates me to explore, to observe, and to learn the culture and the language. Now that I’m living in Nazareth, I not only get to explore but I am now growing roots in this land. Since I already have Arabic under my belt, I’m now learning Hebrew and going through a whole new cultural emersion. Learning a fifth language makes me feel personally empowered as I continue to strive to be a global citizen, which is possible through expatriate life.

What has been the hardest part?

Being away from my parents and sister is difficult, especially as a newly wed. It’s even harder living in a different country. Luckily, we live in a technologically advanced age and I can text, call, and video call them on a daily basis.

Another difficulty I’ve faced living in Nazareth so far is having to depend on my husband so much. Having been a very independent individual working full time, studying full time, and paying my own bills, I’ve found it challenging to adapt to my temporary role as a housewife. Enrolling for medical insurance, for instance, I couldn’t do without his help because I don’t speak Hebrew just yet. However, simpler tasks like grocery shopping in a Hebrew speaking neighborhood I can get around doing thanks to the little English they might speak, or thanks to my handy iTranslate app.

Where would you want to move to eventually?

Honestly, I am open to living anywhere as long as my husband and I are able to succeed in our careers and maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle for our family.

What’s your sense of home?

‘Home is where the heart is’ rings true to me. Home is where my loved ones are and where I’m safe and happy. At the moment, I have two homes: one in Los Angeles and one in Nazareth. It’s where one feels comfortable even when sick with the flu. Home cooked Arabic food and good company always help me feel at home.

What advice would you give to first time expats?

I’d recommend staying positive and truly doing your best to adapt. Resisting only brings frustrations and hardships. One must go into a new country with the mindset that things will be different and that’s okay! We are meant to evolve and adapt to new surroundings so always keep that in mind.

Having said that, I also think it’s important to study and understand the culture you’re exposing yourself to. Try to learn their traditions and their language. Go in with an open mind and try to understand others. Israel is known for its political conflict and as an Arab, I had to prepare myself to live in an environment where I’m legally considered as a “second class citizen” according to the new law. However, I came with optimism, and with a background in conflict studies and conflict resolution, I recommend having a peace driven mindset no matter where one lives in the world.

[Image courtesy of Asela Fahoum]

*If you’d like to be featured on our ‘My Expat Story’ section, send an email to Alison at alison@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, the URL for your website/blog, and/or Twitter handle so we can help you connect with other expats from around the world.

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