As a child I remember sitting on the front porch daydreaming about the possibility of a life beyond the city limits or the cornfields of Omaha, Nebraska. I imagined flying on a magic carpet visiting far away countries and enjoying different people and cultures, but never in a million years did I expect to actually live in another country.

In 2009, I had the pleasure and honor of moving to South Korea as an English teacher. Since then my life has never been the same. While there, I met some wonderful people, had an opportunity to get to know myself, developed resilience, and reevaluate life in its entirety. I would hope that I am better person now. Traveling gives you the chance to learn about other people, cultures, but more importantly it helps you know yourself better. However, living in another country will completely change your perspective on many things. It has been my greatest learning experience to date. Here are 5 things that I learned while living in South Korea.

1.    Be Fluid
Nothing in life is constant. Prior to moving to Korea, I understood that life was constantly evolving, but moving to a foreign country taught me the importance of remaining open and being fluid. Fluidity prepared me when things outside of my control that changed without notice such as when my employer implementing schedule changes or informing us of mandatory events the day of with little to no regard for our pre-planned after work agendas. Learning to be fluid helped me to adapt a go with the flow attitude, which proved to be essential to my survival in an ever changing environment. It was difficult at first because I wanted to view things as I had in my home country, but I learned very quickly what the phrase when in Rome really means.
2.    To Be Thankful for Creativity

Being an American is a blessing. Although we have more than an enough issues, there are still many great things about being American I truly appreciate. After living a homogenous society like Korea, I have a new appreciation for individuality and creativity. Koreans are very creative people, but teaching in Korea was often challenging because many Koreans have been taught to memorize everything. It often proved to be difficult to get my students to think outside the box and use their imagination to come up with something creative. When I arrived, I first noticed how ingrained memorization was when I went to change my order at a restaurant. If I wanted to remove or add an ingredient to my order it was met with resistance because that was not how the person was instructed to make the item. Again, Koreas are very creative, but in general, they have been taught to systematically approach things, which revealed challenging when I wanted to get something done a different way. Especially if I knew there were alternative ways things could be done easier than what may have been presented. Now, I appreciate seeing how creative people work  and how options give way to variety and choices.
3.    I am American 

Yes, I knew this before moving to Korea, but I never self-identified as being American until I moved to Korea. I was a Black Woman. Unless there was a reason to mark a form with my nationality, I solely identified as being a black person or an African American. I didn’t actively think about being American at all. In most cases, America has a funny way of constantly dividing us by race, economics, or gender. Therefore, I never felt very American. I fully identified as being African American and my reality consisted of all things black unless I was at work or school. It wasn’t until I lived in Korea that I could identify, accept, and understand what it meant to be American and identify as an American. Now, I even questioned being called African American. I totally understand that my origins come from Africa, but when you say African American it really refers to someone migrating from Africa, which doesn’t not describe me at all. I was born and raised as an American meaning I’m American with ancestors from Africa. Let’s just say I’m still working on this one.    
4.       Human Kindness is Essential

When I moved to Korea, I was shocked at how much Koreans and black people had in common. I use to laugh because some of the things Koreans did reminded me of someone I knew back home. From eating pig feet, to their hustle, to the little old woman or Ajumma sitting on the steps watching everything go down, but hasn’t seen a thing. It’s often comical to know how propaganda sells us the vision that people are vastly different, when in fact, we all are human. We all want what is best for ourselves and for our families. We all want to smile, have someone acknowledge us, and to know what it means to love. I will never forget a ride I took one New Year’s Eve. I was trying to get to Seoul and there were no seats on the bus.  An Ajumma (older lady) made the girl she was sitting with move over and make room for me so I could sit with them for the duration of our two-hour ride to Seoul. I was so thankful when we arrived in Seoul that I tried to offer her money. She wouldn’t accept it. She reached over and took my hand and point to her heart and then back to my heart as to say, “From my heart to yours.” That brought to tears then and still brings me to tears now.

5.    Language is Optional

People often ask me how one lives in a country for over three years and never learns to speak the language fluently. Well, honestly I went with the intention to learn and I did make an attempt, but once I got there and my purpose was teaching English the plan changed. I went to Korea wanting to learn and I had a plan to do so, but it actually became harder trying to learn than not with so many people wanting to practice their English. However, I am not advocating moving to a country and negating to learning the language. My point is that you don’t have to learn a language to communicate, communication is deeper than speaking. So, during the time I lived in Korea, I learned what it was to have deep relationships with people even if we never spoke the same language, and I will tell you, I truly understand what Koreans are saying even if I couldn’t reply in Korean. There is something about acknowledging and respecting each other that moves things beyond spoken words. I truly learned how to function without speaking and I’m much better at communicating my needs, wants, and desires without never uttering a word.  

If you are interested in getting started as an expat and living abroad, I would love to help you. I am offering a 20 minute exploration coaching session, click here to learn more.

Cha is the president of Global Bound Consulting where she coaches’ individuals in transition, provides intercultural training, and speaks to schools, groups, and organizations. She is also the founder of Expat Women of Color, which is a 501C3 organization that helps connect women who desire to live, work, study and/or travel abroad with other women  and resources to live abroad successfully. In here spear time, she loves to travel and see the world. You can contact and learn more about Cha through her personal website or through her blog

As I began promoting my new book You Too! Can Live Abroad, I decided to speak with different women having the time of their lives living and working abroad. Over the past couple of weeks, I interviewed a State Department English language fellow, a future expat, and a physician traveling with her husband and young son. Now, I want to introduce to a single mother making a global impact by following her dream and living with purpose. 

I originally met Kristen a couple of years ago through my networking group, Expat Women of Color, where she assisted me in an interview for my graduate capstone projectAt that time, she and her son were living in the Middle East in Abu Dhabi. However, I'm currently interviewing her from an entirely different continent. She is now residing in Africa in the country of Uganda.

A New Adventure A New Way of Life...

 First, tell my readers when you first moved abroad and what took you? I first moved abroad in August 2013 after accepting a job offer with the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) in the UAE.  I have always had a desire to live abroad since my teenage years when I traveled to Spain with my uncle. Visiting Spain inspired me to keep pursuing my dreams of living abroad. Prior to applying for the position, I worked as a first grade teacher for 3 years in the Chicago area. I love teaching and all aspects involved but I was ready for a change of pace, a new adventure and way of life. I was tired of living check to check and I felt that my life was in a stagnant place. I was also ready to move on from an emotionally and spiritually draining romantic relationship. The desire was always in me to teach abroad but prior to that time, I felt very limited by my circumstances as a single, African-American mother with a limited income. How in the world was I going to be able fulfill this lifelong dream? Sometimes it takes those uncomfortable situations and moments of uncertainty to push you out of your comfort zone into a place of purpose and destiny.

I understand that you are not traveling the world alone, you actually have a gorgeous gentleman accompanying you. Tell us a little about this companion of yours, and how his life has been changed by living abroad?  Yes, I am the proud mother of 8-year old Christion Nicholas Isaiah. He joined me in the UAE a few months after I arrived. I would highly recommend single mothers, who are considering a move abroad, to go alone for at least a month so that you can properly settle in before your little one arrives. He was 6-years old at the time and I was confident that living abroad would expand his ideas of the world around him through his intercultural experiences. Surprisingly, Christion adjusted very well to his new environment. I, on the other hand, was in a state of culture shock for over 5 months! While in the UAE, he was able to make friends from literally all over the world, learn Arabic and travel to various countries such as India, Oman, Sri Lanka, Qatar and Thailand within the span of 2 years. Furthermore, I made sure to keep him very busy by enrolling him in several after school activities including art lessons, soccer, basketball and swimming. I stayed connected with other single mothers and families, encouraging playdates and outings since community is very important when raising a child, especially as a single mother living abroad. Overall, Christion’s life has been enriched by this experience and he has become extremely well-rounded as a global citizen, allowing him many opportunities for growth and exploration.  

I am still a little jealous that my mother didn’t take me off to see the world. However, what if any, are the challenges of living abroad and do you think your son will ever regret being a 3rd culture child? The challenges were plentiful during our time in the UAE. That’s why I absolutely encourage parents to research the country of interest, especially if you have children of color because in my opinion, not every country is ideal for raising them. Therefore, you must find a place that works for you and supports your morals, beliefs and lifestyle. Talk to other families who mirror your situation. There were imminent differences between the American culture and the very conservative Muslim culture we experienced in the UAE. At first, Christion couldn’t understand why Christmas and Easter weren’t being celebrated and why we couldn’t eat in public during Ramadan. After the first year, things were clearer for him but again, it was definitely a cultural shock.
One of the biggest challenges for him was being away from his father. Single moms, although I encourage you to consider life abroad, I also want you to consider the relationship between your child and their father before making a definitive decision. I had to take into consideration the existing relationship Christion had with his father prior to our relocation. In the end, I didn’t regret my decision to bring him and my intentions were meaningful, however, it was definitely a hardship.
I want the entire scoop on your move to Uganda. How did you decide on moving to Uganda? What are the differences between Dubai and Uganda, and what do you love about your new adventure? After two years in the UAE, I decided that it was time for us to move on, however, I wasn’t ready to return to the States. Therefore, I accepted a job in Kampala, Uganda. Seeing the hardships Christion had to deal with being away from his father, I decided to leave him in the States for 1 academic year while I continued to pursue my teaching career…abroad. This was one of the most difficult decisions of my life since my son and I are very close.
So how in the world did I end up in Uganda? Well, when I made the decision to leave the Middle East, I started considering other locations such as Asia, South America and Africa. I completed a profile on (highly recommended if you’re in the education field) and applied for several positions to no avail. I reached a time in the job search process where I became very discouraged and figured that it may be best to move back to the States after all and settle with a teaching position there. Right when I made that decision, I received an email from an international school in Uganda. They were pleased with my credentials and wanted an immediate interview. Unbelievably, I was hired a week later. Wow! I was moving to Africa! Now, that I am here, I am very thankful that I made the decision to move to Uganda. It was a huge to say the least because my son is away but from an overall perspective, it has helped me considerably by widening my outlook and increasing my faith and overall confidence. What I love about my journey the most is being in the presence of progress. The country is growing, moving and developing at a rapid pace. It feels great to be a part of the movement by contributing in any way that I can. By the way, my school is amazing! The children love to learn and the school community is chock full of extracurricular programs and resources. In the UAE, it was a challenge because I worked in the local schools so naturally there was a language and cultural barrier. Furthermore, in Kampala, the lifestyle is more relaxed, friendly and full of life. On the other hand, in the UAE, the culture was a lot more conservative in terms of dress, lifestyle and community relations. Through this transition from the UAE to Uganda, I am learning more about self-identify, love and purpose. I am learning how to remain strong during adversity, although the distance between my son and I is very difficult, at times. Through my community involvement, consistent networking and building social relationships, I am aware that everything happens for a reason and Uganda was definitely in God’s plan for my life.
Ok, I want to talk to you forever about your new journey, but I don’t have time. However, I would love for my readers to know a little more about you and what your aspirations are as an expat. What would you like for my readers to know to help them if they contemplating moving abroad? What has been your biggest lesson? One thing that I will say is never give up on your dreams and interests because of your circumstances. God has given you a very special path and purpose in this life. One of my biggest lessons and challenges was to not let fear control my destiny and to simply trust the process called life.
If you want to live abroad, I advise you to research employment opportunities in your field. Find out which countries have the best opportunities in terms of contracts, salaries and living conditions. Additionally, build a network before you arrive. This is extremely important and will help during the adjustment period. Continue to push through any obstacles that come your way. Stay strong, positive and know that your destiny is waiting on you. Lastly, if you are a single mother, I encourage you to allow your child to live abroad at least once. Of course, take all factors into consideration so that you can make very wise decisions for your family. Believe me, moving abroad, if you decide to do so, is an opportunity that you won’t regret. Go for it! I believe in you! It was one of the best decisions I made and now my life will be forever changed. For further information on my journey as a single mother of color living abroad, please watch out for the release of my very first E-book entitled:  Turbulence, (test)imonies and triumphs: Inspiration for single mothers of color pursuing purpose abroad. You can also follow my journey on my blog at .

Face book: Kristen Woodruff
Instagram: Msblackexpat
Have you thought about living abroad, but you have a family? Have you been waiting to speak to your spouse about your dream of living in South Africa, Spain, or Japan but you aren't sure they will support your dream? Well, you never know what will happen until you have the conversation. More and more people with families are packing their bags and trading their hectic lives more family interaction in a foreign country. So, really what are you waiting for?

This week I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Atlanta native Carmen Brown who moved to New Zealand with her husband and son. Proof that even with a family, it can be done! If you are interested in getting some assistance or learning how to start the process, check out my new book You Too! Can Live Abroad.

You Can Have A Normal Live Living Overseas...

Name: Carmen
Age:  In my 40’s and fabulous
Occupation: Physician
Countries visited?  Argentina, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, Fiji, Hong Kong,  Indonesia, Japan, Maldives, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Samoa, South Africa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand
Where is home? Atlanta, Georgia
Where are you currently living? New Zealand
How long have you been living in this country? We have been in New Zealand for 2 years
Who is traveling with you? My husband and my 3 year old son

When did you first obtain a passport? In 2007! Believe it or not, I didn’t leave the continent until 2007 and between then and now I’ve visited almost 30 countries. I don’t think it’s ever too late to travel and explore!

When did you first know that you wanted to actually live abroad? After I went overseas. I realized that people have normal lives in other countries not unlike our lives in the USA. I also noticed that many places placed less emphasis on material goods an more on fostering relationships with friends and family and enjoying activities. I knew then that living abroad would be the best option for myself and my family. My husband is a former military “brat” and spent the first 15 years of his life living abroad so he was definitely integral in our decision to move overseas.

What is the most rewarding thing about being able to live abroad? Having a different perspective on life. I think that when you live overseas you have the opportunity to meet people who are so very different from your culture and background that you can’t help but to be inspired and educated by them. I didn’t realize how small my view of the world was until I found myself immersed in another country half a world away. I’m proud of myself for learning to grow and accept the beauty in differences.

What have you learned about yourself since moving abroad? I have realized that I didn’t need a fraction of the material goods that I spent a lifetime accumulating! I also realized that things can be done at a much slower, less stressful pace. I think I used to stress myself out back home, always trying to prove to everyone and myself that I’m a Superwoman. I have just recently learned here in NZ how to let things go… I’ve also learned that I’m an outdoorsy person! I would have NEVER tagged myself as a “hiking” or “camping” girl. Now these are two of my favorite outdoor activities! I try to do at least a 1 hour hike once a week-not only is it great exercise but it’s a perfect time to clear my head and think.

What do you most about living in New Zealand? WOW! First and foremost I love the safety of the country. New Zealand is consistently ranked as one of the safest nations in the world with low crime and even lower corruption. You feel that as an American in everyday life. I also love the beauty of the country. I feel like I live in a postcard with crystal blue water, white sand beaches, lush green forests and snow covered mountains. I can’t believe how stunning it is here!

What is the most challenging thing about living abroad? Trying to schedule time to catch up with friends and family and “Letting go” of the fast paced “convenience” lifestyle. When you are 17-18 hours ahead of all of you friends and family it gets VERY difficult trying to Skype or call them. It really takes some planning. I do miss some other things like Soul Food and certain ethnic restaurants but it has just made me a better cook! I make so many things from scratch now because I can’t find the things in the store…Like I make my cornbread from scratch now instead of using Jiffy and I can make my own “Jimmy Dean” sausage!

The one question or concern I get the most is, “Where will find work?” Tell me how you found work in New Zealand, and how feasible would you say it is for the average person looking for a job to move abroad and find work? I have found in most countries if you have a skill or an advanced degree of some sort, finding work will not be difficult. New Zealand publishes what they call a “Skills Shortage List” on their immigration site which lists all of the degrees and skills that they need immediately. This will make it very easy for you to find work and to get a Permanent Residency based on your skill set or degree. They do usually prefer you have at least 1-2 years of experience in your field. I have noticed new graduates may have a more difficult time finding work.  There are lots of jobs available in IT, Science, Education, Medicine and Engineering. Recently one of my friends from Atlanta came to visit and was able to find a job in IT and has decided to move his family to NZ next year! It is possible!!

If you are interested in reading more about Carmen and her life in New Zealand, then check her blog out

If you are interested in getting started as an expat and living abroad, I would love to help you. I am offering a 20 minute exploration coaching session, click here to learn more.

Cha is the president of Global Bound Consulting where she coaches’ individuals in transition, provides intercultural training, and speaks to schools, groups, and organizations. She is also the founder of Expat Women of Color, which is a 501C3 organization that helps connect women who desire to live, work, study and/or travel abroad with other women  and resources to live abroad successfully. In here spear time, she loves to travel and see the world. You can contact and learn more about Cha through her personal website or through her blog

There are a growing number of Americans moving abroad, and black women are amongst those seeking an international life as an Expat. So, as I get ready to launch my new book, YOU TOO! Can Live Abroad (sign up now! for updates) in a few weeks, I wanted to speak to both women who are currently living abroad, and Future Expats.

Today, I had the opportunity to speak to Future Expat, Cherise Charleswell, who is already a seasoned traveler. However, she still has her sights set on having a life and career outside of the United States. Although, she doesn't have a firm date of when she'll actually move abroad, she does have some of her future international travels for 2016 already booked and paid for, she is not playing y'all!  

Expecting Great Things!

Name: Cherise Charleswell
Occupation: Clinical Researcher, Diversity Officer, Writer, Segment Producer for Broadcast Radio, Model. Yes, I wear MANY hats.
Counties visiting by the end of 2015: Japan, Indonesia,   Singapore, Costa Rica.
Already Booked for 2016: Trinidad & Tobago, Thailand, 
Turkey, Kosovo, Albania, and Colombia. And, I still feel like I am forgetting to list a few.
Where is home?  Home and roots will always be the Virgin Islands. However, I do not feel tied to any particular locale.
Currently resides in? Los Angeles 
When did you first obtain your passport? At a young age, I'm not exactly sure when it was first obtained for me.
Have you traveled abroad? If so, where? Yes, I have. I have been to…Mexico, Canada, The Bahamas, Antigua, Anguilla, St Kitts, The Netherlands, The Netherlands Antilles: (St Maarten/St Martin, Aruba), British Virgin Islands, England, Portugal, Greece, Italy, France, and United Arab Emirates.

Why are you interested in living abroad?  Living abroad is something that I wanted to do for a very long time. I was unable to accept a study abroad program, being that I had to work my way through college during my undergraduate years. However, I made it a point to befriend any exchange students and all those who had an immigrant background like mine. I just find that people outside of the US seem to be more socially politically aware, and for that reason far more interesting. There is also the state of US politics and the economy. I would like to live in a country that still values education, people, and infrastructure over war and profit. One where mass shootings are not the accepted norm. One where pursuing higher education does not put you in crippling debt. Seriously, I would like to pursue a doctoral degree, but know that I will not put myself in further debt by doing it here in the United States.

Where would you like to live and why? Goodness, if I had the exact answer to this, I would be gone already. I will just say that I am open to all opportunities. I have found something that touches me in every country that I visit, and know that I will be able to make any country “home”.

What do you think will be your biggest adjustment when moving abroad?  The biggest adjustment may be not being able to readily obtain some of the food products that I am used to; particularly since I am a vegetarian.
Do you have any fears about living abroad? If, so what are they? No, I do not.

What are three things you miss about America? I am unfortunately still here and have nothing to miss. However, I am sure that when I do emigrate, the things that I will miss are my family and friends; but they will always have an open door to visit me.

Cherise is an active member of Expat Women of Color on Facebook.

If you are interested in getting started as an expat and living abroad, I would love to help you. I am offering a 20 minute exploration coaching session, click here to learn more.

Cha is the president of Global Bound Consulting where she coaches’ individuals in transition, provides intercultural training, and speaks to schools, groups, and organizations. She is also the founder of Expat Women of Color, which is a 501C3 organization that helps connect women who desire to live, work, study and/or travel abroad with other women  and resources to live abroad successfully. In here spear time, she loves to travel and see the world. You can contact and learn more about Cha through her personal website or through her blog