As I was walking through the streets of Prague, lost again, I realized how much being a foreigner fires up your brain cells. I can’t help but be more creative in a new country because I am trying to figure out what’s going on 24/7.
There is a peacefulness to it. I’m not bombarded with news broadcasts because its all in Czech. I must look for clues to assess the state of the nation – the economic viability of my new home. After all, as a freelancer I am at the mercy of a positive business climate.
Without a nightly economic forecast I have to listen to the Czech English speakers I meet. They are cautiously optimistic, which is for a highly pessimistic people (a Czech person would jump in here and correct me with “realistic.”) high praise. I look at all the construction projects around the City. New giant glittering malls opening up just in time for winter where a captive audience, hoping to stay warm and have fun at the same time, will flock to them. I note the number of companies establishing European headquarters here or building Innovation Centers, like Microsoft and Eaton. Leaders at these companies share why they opened here – it’s in the center of Europe, high quality of life, educated population, good universities and favorable cost of living.
Now that my mind is not plugged into the machine that was tasked with spoon-feeding me a selected reality (aka U.S. news) I am using my brain to get to the truth. I humbly recognize I have much to learn. I am still one of the people who hasn’t been here long enough to say this time last year the weather was……! So, I patiently wait for the time when I’ve got history here and in the meantime I enjoy the chance to reignite brain cells that may have grown a bit dormant.
It’s that kind of creative opportunity hat attracts a range of generations to the experience of being a foreigner. It’s not just young people with backpacks anymore.
My mentor in adventure had raised two girls and sold a house to launch herself into the unknown. Karen, of Empty Nest Expat ,has now become a successful award winning blogger, reporting from Istanbul at a time when it’s a place that really matters. Instanbul from an American woman guarantees a different perspective.
Young professionals are seeing the benefits on an international experienced designed in their generation’s image; flexible, with big risks, but with the potential payoff of a lifestyle that dosen’t leave you anxious and on Prozac. Legal Nomad’s Jodi Ettenberg, has created a life that has her wintering in Southeast Asia and summering in New York to stay connected to her market, while reporting on street food in Southeast Asia. It means living out of suitcases and storage spaces, but it feels right for her now.
There are young people like my daughter, Jovan, who has fallen in love with a Region and is sharing her new passion through video blogs and travel ventures. Introduced to Bangkok while working at a travel startup, she feels a since of wonder about Thailand and the surrounding countries. She was swept away by the emerging travel market in Myanmar and spent a week there documenting the culture. You can see a bit of it here.
Her desire to be a global citizen has pushed her creative button and inspired her to shape ways to create income through things she loves to do in a place she loves to be, while enjoying the “what next” question.
Intentional Foreigners like us are the kind of people you want to have on your project, to bring on your team, to have on your side. Curious and engaged we are the New Innovators.