My Expat Story: Chris Gerakiteys

Here at Global Living we want to connect with our readers — 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 expat Chris Gerakiteys, who spent her formative years in Australia – finding her feet as a professional, mother, blogger, editor and general Jill-of-all-trades. For the last two years, Chris and her family have been navigating expat life, first in rural, then regional Ghana, and now in the capital, Accra. West Africa has taught her that there is a lot more learning required, and sometimes the only response is to laugh.

Professionally, Chris worked as a geologist in Australia, North America, and Antarctica. Six years in hospitality means she knows her way around everything from haute cuisine to street food. Four years in publishing and editing honed her research and writing skills. As a crafter, Chris spent an incredibly satisfying stint in a local design collective. Whether it’s food, artisanal wares or a string of well-places words, anything done with care and passion brings a song to her heart.

What’s your favorite part of expat life?

Without a doubt, my favorite part of expat life is showing all the variety of the world to our children. We have had the opportunity to show them the very different lives people have here in Africa, and to recognize how incredibly fortunate we are to have been born in a free and wealthy country like Australia. We have also had amazing opportunities for travel, the extent to which we would never have had if we stayed in Australia. I also love to opportunity to meet so many amazing people from all around the globe; everyone has a story, and it’s almost always really interesting!

What has been the hardest part?

Living in rural Ghana for a year, followed by a year in a regional center has been at times, incredibly challenging. To move our kids from a very happy, easy life in Australia and have them face pretty profound challenges in culture, schooling and socializing has had some very hard moments. But for all us to come through it much more resourceful, resilient and as a very close family unit has been worth the journey.

Where have you lived around the world?

Before children, my husband and I lived in Canada, spending the winters in Vancouver and the summers in a remote camp in the Arctic, we loved it and seriously considered emigrating to Canada. I spent a summer doing field work in Antarctica (I am trained as a geologist), and while no one ‘lives’ in Antarctica, it was an extraordinary experience. We have traveled throughout Australia, the U.S., Pacific and parts of Europe (though we keen to do much more!) Ghana is our first overseas posting with children, and the longer we stay away, the keener we are to keep moving as a family.

Where do you want to move to eventually?

Ummm, hard question. At present we have no firm plans to move anywhere permanently, though I guess Australia is always a really lovely fallback position. And we are constantly fantasizing about a place in Greece.

What’s your sense of ‘home’? 

I find this such an intriguing question, the answer to which seems to change the longer we stay away. I’ve actually just finished my first university assignment (in 20 years!!) and the topic was cultural identity and a sense of home. We will always call ourselves Australian, we enjoy visiting once a year, and certainly our cultural identity is Australian. But what I have learnt, particularly in living overseas with children, is that it is very important to refer to your adopted country as home, at least as much as your country of origin. Children need to know their base is with the family, wherever that may be. It is not just that mythical place you visit once a year, where grandparents ply you with ice creams and life is a perpetual holiday. Home is where your family is and where you go to school and live your life. Home is also another country, far across the seas, where there are people who love you and whom you share a history with. I’ve learnt that home is so much more about people, rather than place. Having said that, on homesick days I do feel a longing for the coastline of Australia.

Share anything else you’d like us to hear!

I think living overseas, particularly as a family, and in a culture that is very different from the one you grew up in, is an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s not always easy, sometimes it’s frustrating, and sometimes it can be downright horrible! But the opportunity to see so much and meet so many people out of the ‘ordinary’ can be truly life changing. It reminds you there are many ways to live a ‘good’ life. I hope our kids experiences will equip them to be open minded, tolerant, resilient people, who appreciate all the variety of this amazing world.

Find out more about Chris and her expat story by visiting her blog, Six Degrees North (http://www.sixdegreesnorth.me), following her on Twitter (@sixdegreesnorth) and connecting on Facebook, ‘Six Degrees North’.



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