My Expat Story: Marissa Tejada

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!

marissa tejada athens

We received an email from Marissa Tejada, a New Yorker loving the Mediterranean life in Greece. She’s the author of Chasing Athens, a novel inspired by expat life, and is a freelance journalist, travel writer and blogger.

What’s your favorite part of expatriate life?

Greece is a magical place and Athens is a vibrant city to build roots in.  I unexpectedly fell in love with the culture, way of life, food and people.  Generally, expatriate life has allowed me to travel across Europe and discover its destinations, where there’s a beautiful confluence of history, cultures and languages. This experience has also continued inspire me as a journalist and as now as a published author.  Living abroad certainly inspired me to write my debut novel Chasing Athens.

What’s been the hardest part?

The hardest part had to be finding my way around in a foreign language.  The first years were difficult especially when it came to communicating the way I wanted to at a level I hadn’t reached. I’ve always loved foreign languages and enjoy learning Greek but, well, there’s a reason they say, “It’s Greek to me!”

Another difficult part is missing my friends and family back in the States and feeling far away from holiday events like the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving.  Living abroad has made me appreciate and understand my American side and my American upbringing more than I could’ve imagined.

Where have you lived around the world? Favorite places?

I grew up in New York and I still believe it is one of the best cities in the world. There’s an energy that I believe can’t be matched anywhere else. I am really proud to have grown up there and now, having done a fair share of travel living abroad, I can attest to why people say the world revolves around New York.  I really loved living in San Francisco because it has many of the great things New York has but in this picturesque, small city surrounded by so much natural beauty.  My current city of Athens is steeped in amazing ancient history, modern chaos and breathtaking beauty that becomes a part of you for all that it is.

One of my favorite places in that I can visit over and over again is Belgrade, Serbia. I had the pleasure of living there for a short while and I think it’s a gorgeous little European city with a fantastic culture, people, food and nightlife. I’ve also lived in Upstate New York, Washington state, Orlando, Florida, Los Angeles and London. I believe every place we live comes as it is and we determine its negative and positive points based on who we are. In the end it’s about what suits us and how we choose to see life in that place.

Where do you want to move to eventually?

Athens is home right now but I if I could choose for an eventual move I have to say I really loved my time in California. Now that I’ve been spoiled with Mediterranean weather and the sea so close to me, it seems like a good alternate destination to consider. Maybe I’ll just live on one of my favorite Greek islands and see where that takes me!

What’s your sense of ‘home’?

Home is such a difficult definition for me now since I’ve lived abroad for some time now. My belongings are in Greece and I feel connected to my networks and life that I’ve built here. Then there’s a different familiar feeling when I am lost in the shuffle in New York – that’s home too. Then there’s the happiness and excitement that overcomes me when the plane touches down in a favorite destination like Belgrade, Serbia. As an expat, I’ll always have more than one home and more than one sense of home. I’m forever changed!

Share anything else you’d like us to hear!

It’s so true that home is where your heart is. Your heart can belong to one place your whole life or be a part of many places for many different reasons because we are all so different. The beauty of expat life is having the opportunity to be enriched by other cultures, people and languages and that all comes straight from real world experiences. Appreciating expat life is enriching and exciting. I feel blessed to realize the positive aspects of living abroad because I can say that I’m having the time of my life so far.

Connect with Marissa on all kinds of social media by checking out her website www.marissatejada.com, travel blog my Greece, my travels or by connecting on twitter at @tejadamarissa.

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