No Longer Native

an expat experience

A Summer Siesta

Today marks two weeks I’ve been in Madrid and I’m still pinching myself at the gorgeous weather, scenery, food and museums this city has to offer. After catching my breath and settling in, I realized how frantic things have been the past three months!

That said, NoLongerNative will be taking a little break over the summer so I can take full advantage of this lovely city. I’ll be back to blogging again in the fall, once we’ve settled somewhere more long term.

Even though I won’t be active on NoLongerNative, I’ll never be far from email. So to those of you with questions about Bogotá or expat life in general, don’t hesitate to use the contact form to drop me a line!

Happy summer and see you soon!

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NoLongerNative is moving…kind of

I’ve mentioned here and there over the past six months that our assignment is drawing to a close and because that time is here, I’ve spent the past week wrapping up things in our Bogotá apartment, saying goodbye to friends and trying to soak up my last moments in this lovely city.

I know I haven’t yet mentioned where we’re going, so I’m thrilled to say that this afternoon I’ll be heading to Madrid, Spain!

This is a temporary jaunt (it’s a three month assignment) so we’re still waiting for news on a more permanent location. Nonetheless we’re excited for a new adventure and for a summer exploring not only Spain but Europe as well!

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back soon with thoughts on leaving Colombia and (hopefully) lots of things to share from Madrid.

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Expat advice: The key to a happy expat life

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Just because your body is here, doesn’t mean your mind is…

The two years I’ve spent living abroad have been a crash course in the emotional ups and downs that come with uprooting your life and starting again somewhere new, all with the lurking expectation of doing it again in a couple of years. This week I was compiling all my little tips about how to have a happy life as an expat no matter what your circumstance, when I realized my advice was rooted in the same practice: mindfulness.

Though originally a tenet of Buddhism, the practice of mindfulness—much like yoga—has become much more mainstream. In its essence mindfulness is focusing your attention on the present, which allows you to observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. If new age-y terms freak you out, just think of it as being in the moment or living in the here and now. If you’ve read articles about disconnecting from technology, staying in the moment with your kids, or listening to your body to avoid overeating, then you’re familiar with mindfulness.

Because life abroad doesn’t necessarily come with a built-in support system, expats in particular can benefit from using this tool to refocus their thoughts. Keep reading to see four particular areas where mindfulness has helped me manage expat life.

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The truth behind an expat’s social media.

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So you’re at work, tapping away at your keyboard and—taking a minute to let your mind wander—you innocently scroll though Instagram or FaceBook.

Ugh, again? There’s so-and-so, hiking some far-flung mountain, cheers-ing in front of a tropical sunset, or arms akimbo with some group of laughing weirdos. Cue rolling eyeballs and a silent promise to unfriend/unfollow/un-whatever at the next gratuitous display of glorious life-abroad fun.

Well, thank goodness you stumbled upon this article because there are so many myths to dispel when it comes to the ‘glamourous’ life we expats lead. You can make anything look good from the outside and when it comes down to it, expats are just as good as everyone else at curating a perfect life on social media.

Of course white sand beaches look amazing from a cubicle, but let’s take a moment and pull back the curtain on a lifestyle that is so often idealized, to see that the grass isn’t always greener. Below are a few ideas at what’s happening behind the scenes of those perfectly cropped and captioned photos.

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Is expatting better than long-term travel?

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If you are related to us, a good friend or just happened to have dinner with Cody and I anywhere between 2008 and 2014, then you know it was a dream of ours to somehow live overseas.  As we talked through the ways to do this, it seemed like the best option would be to quit our jobs and travel for a year. When we stumbled into an international assignment it seemed like a great way to have the best of both worlds—the security of a job with the excitement of living overseas.

But in the moment, I wondered if we were settling for something short of our full fledged dream. We were afraid to leave our jobs behind, so wasn’t what we were doing kind of a cop-out?

Now that we’re wrapping up our first assignment, I realize that long term travel and expat life are two completely different animals, each with their own set of benefits. Keep reading to see how I think we got the better end of the deal.

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Ciudad Perdida: The ‘Lost City’ of Teyuna, Part II

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Hammocks lined up at camp 2

Part II is dedicated to the practical side of trekking to the Lost City. But before we get to what you should wear and what to pack, let’s take a moment to discuss whether or not you should plan a visit at all.

Because, when we returned to Bogotá and were excitedly chatting about our trip and showing pictures, we were met with a few mumbles of huh, that’s it? These conversations led me to feel that a little setting of expectations is in order for anyone considering this particular trek.

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Ciudad Perdida: The ‘Lost City’ of Teyuna, Part I

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From the highest terrace of the ‘lost city’

Who wouldn’t want to see a recently rediscovered ancient city? Bygone civilizations, ruins and abandoned places have always captured people’s attention—just think of ancient Rome’s obsession with the pyramids or the excavation and tourism of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the mid-18th century. Relatively speaking Colombia’s Ciudad Perdida is a new kid on the block, which is why we found ourselves in the middle of the jungle over the long Easter weekend.

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NoLongerNative on the web: Some honorable mentions

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Anyone who’s had a blog can tell you that it’s hard to make a name for yourself on the internet—there are so many different options and it’s hard to get noticed in a list of one million results. It takes a long time to grow readership and get your name out there, which is why it’s so exciting for me to share the two little blurbs below.

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Flavors of Bogotá Coffee Shop Tour

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Karen Attman, journalist and creator of the Flavors of Bogota foodie website, has a new love: Colombian coffee. I shouldn’t say the fascination is new, per se, because she’s lived in Colombia for many years. Nonetheless, it was Karen’s deep appreciation of Colombian beans and a curiosity as to what made them unique which resulted in the Flavors of Bogotá Coffee Shop Tour, an experience that should be added to the list of tourists and locals alike.

This past week my friend Tiffany (visiting from the U.S.) and I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Karen and learning about Colombian coffee from the ground up. Over the course of the morning, we visited three different craft coffee houses in Bogotá’s chic restaurant district, trying a different variety of bean and method of brewing at each. In between tastings—in addition to letting our caffeine buzz wear off slightly—we heard about the history of Colombian coffee, the specific conditions which make it the best in the world, and why craft houses like the ones we’re visiting are only just now becoming popular.

Keep reading for a few cool moments from the tour.

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What not to wear in Bogota

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Don’t. Just don’t.

When planning a trip anywhere new, I inevitably do some googling about what to wear. While I know there’s no way to completely avoid looking like a tourist, my goal is always to land somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between the locals and those wearing fanny packs and American flag t-shirts.

Recently I’ve gotten a couple of reader questions about what to wear while visiting Bogotá, which makes me think that you all think I know what I’m talking about…at least a little bit. Part of that is true: after about two years in this city I can pick out tourists in a snap and know how to dress based on an invite’s time and location.

When you think of Colombia, Bogotá is kind of in a category of it’s own. For one thing, it’s location at about 8,500 feet above sea level means that it’s much cooler than the rest of the country. Temperatures don’t vary greatly and for the most part hover around the low fifties. That said, there are afternoons when the sun can bring the temps to the low seventies, and chilly evenings where it can sink as low as the forties. December and January are the warmest, driest months with April/May and October/November being the wettest. Another way that Bogotá differs is that as the capital and center of business, dressing seems more formal and sophisticated than the rest of the country.

Keep reading for a few of my ideas of what to bring—and leave behind—on a trip to Colombia’s capital city.

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