Semi-permanence and the expat

If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?

This is my first time answering the Daily Prompt. This prompt’s reference to choosing nomadism is eerily applicable to our current household discussions.

Call me boring, but I like a life with a home base. First it was Berryville, then Beloit College, and now Moscow. People who move around so often are incredibly brave but it certainly isn’t the lifestyle for me.

I’ve always felt that I’m quite middle of the road, travel-wise. Compared to many people from my small Virginia town, the fact that I went to college 1,000 miles away and then shipped off 5,000 miles at the tender age of 21 makes me a pretty large, certifiable anomaly. However so often while living abroad I meet people who have infinitely more impressive lists. “I’ve lived in Russia for three years” seems far less interesting than a list of “Prague, Moscow, Seoul, Vienna, Madrid…”

However, on the brink of a major life change, I’m for the first time close to ending my 3-year stints and officially going for an off-the-grid nomadic experience. If the Russky’s visa case is denied tomorrow, he and I may be plotting an outrageous plan that include a car, a large country, and a healthy case of nomad-ism to combat our stuck-in-Russia blues.

As my days are spent simultaneously planning for a long-term move and checking out the auto buy ads in the Moscow region, I guess all I can say is that life has shown me that I’ll be a nomad if I’ve exhausted all my other options. Not exactly the take-charge heroine one dreams of, but it works for me!

What’s your answer to this prompt? Are you a nomad, somewhere in the middle like me, or a designated stay-at-homer? Would you change your status if you could?

38 Comments

  • July 7, 2013 - 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Gosh, you really are in limbo land right now….!
    I like to have a base, but, at the same time, I like to move that base every now and again. I’ve been in my current place for almost two years, and I’m planning a move (most likely Barcelona) next year, and I’d quite like to stay there for a bit longer, say 5-10 years. But it’s impossible to make definite plans so far ahead…
    I have no idea how I’ve managed to type this… considering I’ve got all my fingers crossed for the Russky’s visa interview to go like a dream tomorrow…

    • July 7, 2013 - 5:43 pm | Permalink

      I’ve heard so many awesome things about Barcelona! Sounds like a great choice if it works out. Do you want to stay in Spain forever or is it impossible to say?

      And thank you for your finger crossing! I’m typing really slowly for the very same reason.

      • July 7, 2013 - 5:54 pm | Permalink

        Forever… that’s not a concept I do very well, in any respect. Though I’ll probably love cake forever :)

      • July 7, 2013 - 5:57 pm | Permalink

        What’s the car thing alll about, btw? Eloping to Novosibirsk?

        • July 7, 2013 - 6:00 pm | Permalink

          Oh God, I think my mother probably just had a heart attack just from that being written. Haha, our backup plan is a trans-Russia road trip for however long I can secure a visa for. Moscow is so last year, ya know?

          • July 7, 2013 - 6:14 pm | Permalink

            Oh dear! (Sorry Polly’s mom ;-)
            Sounds very exciting! I often find myself staring at a map of Russia, wondering what the hell is this vast expanse east of the Urals? What’s in there? And who???

          • July 7, 2013 - 6:21 pm | Permalink

            Not sure what’s there. Probably nothing and nobody. That’s what we’re aiming to find out though!

          • July 7, 2013 - 6:28 pm | Permalink

            Are there petrol stations…? Or, even more importantly, is there wifi???? If it’s not blogable terrain, forget about it!

  • July 7, 2013 - 5:30 pm | Permalink

    I hope things work out with the visa, but if not, remember everything happens for a reason. So seize the opportunity to tramp around the globe! A nomad lifestyle can be pretty exciting…..

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  • Karolyn Cooper
    July 7, 2013 - 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Good luck. Hope you get to do road trips together across Russia and across the USA.

  • July 7, 2013 - 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I, like you, fall somewhere in the middle. Compared to most people I know in America (especially Texas), I’m an adventurous world traveler (hah). Compared to some of my cousins and so many people I met while abroad, I may as well have been living under a rock my entire life. I moved about 10 times in the past 5 years, so constant upheaval has no appeal. I like to travel some but with a home base. And especially now with a baby in the mix, I’m hoping this next move is our last for awhile.

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  • July 8, 2013 - 3:36 am | Permalink

    After nearly 5 weeks of forced travel (which I just wrote about), I am looking forward to getting back home for sure. Fingers crossed for you!

    • July 8, 2013 - 9:50 pm | Permalink

      I think forced travel totally changes the game. Welcome home!

      • July 9, 2013 - 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Thanks! Not quite there yet, but can count on one hand now…

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  • Mama Celeste
    July 8, 2013 - 5:20 am | Permalink

    …just a small heart attack.

  • July 8, 2013 - 6:07 am | Permalink

    Polly,
    I. Would. Sell. Everything. I. OWN!!! If that meant I could live in Europe. Got an ideas for a 30-something-year-old (not married, no kids) on how to find work in Europe? I’m pretty open to location. Just wanted to get your insight.

    When I lived in France I really liked having a home base and scooting around for weekend getaways. It means a lot more to have roots somewhat set in one place and an address to get mail. Now I am living in the Great Plains, watching life go by and wanting more than anything to get back to Europe! <3

    • July 8, 2013 - 9:40 pm | Permalink

      TEFL seems like your best bet?

    • July 8, 2013 - 9:52 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, totally. Getting TEFL certified is the way to go if you want to head into Europe. You’ll always have a job — it might be mediocre, but it’s exotic!

  • July 8, 2013 - 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I have been dreaming of nomadic life for such a long time! Of course I am also a creature of comforts, so unless I suddenly wake up with at least medium-level riches that would allow me to leave my corporate gig, I dont see that life in the cards for me. As to where I’d go – Scotland and Italy would be my first couple of destinations, maybe a year each? The following year I’d spend on a wilderness explorations – 3 months each in Africa, Amazonia, Australia and Argentina. Then probably back to Europe – France, Spain, Germany. Lots and lots of road trips. I actually want to do a 3-month road trip through all of Europe – from Portugal to Turkey to Scandinavia to the British Isles. If I ever do, that will be the closest I’d come to a nomadic experience.

    • July 8, 2013 - 9:54 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you. I think I’m my father’s daughter — “camping” is sleeping in a mediocre hotel. I’d certainly like to be a high-level nomad.

      The road trip sounds epic. Once of my students did it recently and couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful it was.

      • July 9, 2013 - 10:41 am | Permalink

        See, I can do actual camping – I love the wilderness. I know my edible mushrooms and berries and how to properly build fire and shelter etc. It’s the hostels and crappy public transit that I am not fond of :)

        Your student – is it a he or a she? The pragmatist in me keeps thinking that such a road trip is probably not the safest thing to be undertaken by a woman by herself. I wish I knew kung fu ;-)

        • July 9, 2013 - 2:00 pm | Permalink

          It was a she but she went with a friend (also a girl?). I’d learn kung fu and bring a friend for entertainment’s sake.

          • July 9, 2013 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

            I actually would really like to do this by myself – I think it would be a pretty radical experience, and also a little zen. Get away from the world. Force myself to socialize with new people. Sit alone in a cafe and observe. Oh, to dream…

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  • July 8, 2013 - 6:53 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been in my current town 6.5 years, and that’s the longest I’ve lived in the same place in one stretch EVER… but this si the third place I’ve lived within this town. Right now, it’s nice to have somewhere familiar to come home to, but I can’t imagine living in the same place for the rest of my life. An army upbringing will do that to you…

    • July 8, 2013 - 9:57 pm | Permalink

      Almost 7 years is a long time!

      Funnily enough, my mother and her sisters were all army kids too but they’re pretty settled. I have other friends who were military brats — it seems to either make you totally settle down or infect you with a total case of wanderlust!

      • July 9, 2013 - 10:48 am | Permalink

        That’s true, it does seem to be one extreme or the other. I know people who couldn’t wait to leave the army and never have to move again.

  • July 10, 2013 - 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Brussels! It’s in the center of everything. It’s suuuch a great base for hopping anywhere in Europe for cheeeap. It’s little, but it’s really big. The part I have a hard time with is the weather, but if you like the chilly and rainy, it’s puuurfect! Plus, the wine is cheap too…key.

  • July 10, 2013 - 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Right now I’m semi-nomad, semi-fixed. I have two more years of university, but this summer I am living in Ecuador and then next fall I’ll be in Spain. And while I love to travel, travelling has really instilled in me a desire to live near my family so I’m looking forward to setting down more roots after graduation!

    • July 11, 2013 - 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Yeah I definitely struggle with the desire to travel vs. being with family. Good on you for settling down (at least for a bit!).

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