My Expat Story: Jessica Blundell

My Expat Story: Jessica Blundell

An Australian expat living in Tanzania

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!*

Jessica Blundell is an Australian expat living in Tanzania. She is currently working as a content creator and editor for written media and websites. She has been fully employed for the last 5 years since being in Tanzania, however with her (adult-TCK) boyfriend’s career about to take off in new directions, she is transitioning to digital employment as a writer to help facilitate an easy continuation of our expat journey. Here is her Expat Story:

Where have you lived around the world? Favorite places?

I have lived in Australia, Malaysia, South Africa and Tanzania.

With each of them being so different, it’s hard to say which would be the ultimate favorite; they are all so special in their own way, and have each played such a unique role in my personal and professional development. 

I grew up in Melbourne, so for me, Australia will always have a special place in my heart. Although I have lived abroad since 2014, I have always been extremely loud-and-proud of my Australian heritage, and have found it encouraging to come across other Australian expatriates along the way. Melbourne is an amazing place to visit if you enjoy good coffee, sport, and art culture. Our city is known for some of the best café’s, and we are lucky enough to have amazing art exhibits from around the world hosted at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

I lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2012 as a University student, and feel that it was one of the best possible places to live as a young person. The nightlife is incredible, and the community was very welcoming and warm. With transport being so affordable, it was easy to explore the country on a budget, and to experience true Malaysian culture. It was in Kuala Lumpur that I met my boyfriend, and we have been together ever since.

I moved to South Africa in 2013 to pursue my relationship, and it was my first-ever exposure to the African continent. While I was initially apprehensive about living in Johannesburg, and certainly experienced my fair share of crime, I found that the majority of people were incredibly welcoming, and that travelling as an Australian was remarkably easy. I was (and still am) amazed by the music and heartbeat that seems to thrum within everyday life in SA across all demographics. With the wide mix of nationalities, the city of Johannesburg is a true melting pot of cultures, and it feels like there is an undercurrent of music in most people’s day-to-day life. Durban and Cape Town are still two of my favourite holiday destinations, and I’m still hoping to get my parents across to visit! 

So far, my favourite place to live would have to be Tanzania, where I have spent the last five years, and am currently living. The laid-back, beachside life of Dar es Salaam is married well with tropical weather, an abundance of fresh produce, and loud, open marketplaces. The local language (Kiswahili) is easy to learn, and rolls off the tongue of even novice learners and recent-arrivals. The “spice island” of Zanzibar is only a short ferry ride away, and is home to numerous UNESCO sites. In addition, visiting the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater National Parks are two of the best experiences I have ever had in my entire life, alongside swimming with whale sharks just off Mafia Island.

What is your favorite part about expatriate life?

The friendships that we have built, without a doubt. With so many of our friends also being expatriates, the sense of community is doubly strong; we are all away from our loved ones, and so build ourselves a family wherever we go. The longer I live in Africa, the more I realize how small the expat community really is; there seems to be one or two degrees of separation from so many other expatriates across the continent, that making friends has always been an interesting and humorous game of “do you know….?” Or “Have you met…?” It’s been so wonderful to extend our circle of friends so wide.

What has been the hardest part?

Being away from family, and having to constantly say goodbye to good friends is the hardest part. Rotating through job postings is the nature of the beast when employed like this, and we find our circle of friends is always changing as people accept new positions and move away. It’s always tough to say goodbye, even though we know we will cross paths again at some point.

Where would you want to move to eventually?

I would love to try a posting in Europe, as I’ve never, ever been. Even on holiday! When it comes to settling down permanently I don’t think I have one single place in mind. I think my partner and I would love the opportunity to move around almost indefinitely! Our families are on opposite sides of the globe, so for us being able to come and go between them (or bring them to us, together) would be the ultimate dream.

What’s your sense of home?

As cliché as it sounds, “home is where the heart is” is an apt summary. For me, home is where I feel comfortable. It’s where my loved ones are, and where I feel safe. At the moment, I would consider my home to be both in Tanzania and in Australia, but I’m lucky enough that my relationship makes me feel supported and comfortable no matter where I have found myself, for any length of time.

What advice would you give to first time expats?

You can never have too many friends, and you can never know too many people. It can be scary to put yourself out there (especially if you’re on the quieter side like me), but it is so worth it. Join as many clubs, groups and activities as you can, and don’t hesitate to have a few late nights during the week. When you’re old and grey, the evenings you spent making memories and meeting new people far outweigh any good nights’ sleep you might miss out on.

Find out more about Jessica by visiting her website: www.thejdmo.com, or on Instagram @the.jd.mo and Twitter @jessablundell 

*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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