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    • My grandparents fled to NYC from Nazi Germany. My French mother, a law and medical school graduate moved to the US to be with my dad. I can't imagine leaving everything you know to start over.

      People leave their country for different reasons. I'm not sure if I could leave the US. If I lived in Venezuela now, or Germany in 1938 would I leave before its too late?

      It must be hard. Maybe it doesn't feel like a choice. Have any of you left your home country permanently?

    • I have, and I've never regretted it. However I did not leave as a refugee. As a digital nomad, I have no problem packing all up and leaving over and over and over again:)

      I had the opportunity to talk to some Venezuelan refugees lately in Colombia and Ecuador:

      Most said they hope to go back to Venezuela as soon as possible.

    • I did, left England in '87, not under duress for sure, but I just felt like it was not the country for me. Just because you are born in a place, there is no need to stay under any circumstances if its just not right.

    • I did. Lived overseas for 11 years.
      Completely changed my outlook on so many things, particularly viewing my own country from the outside and the joys of learning a different culture.
      It should be compulsory :-)

    • I've often thought about leaving. But when I think about all the people I love who I'd be leaving behind, all the new things I'd have to learn, all the stuff I take for granted that would be different somewhere else, it all seems overwhelming.

      I really admire people who leave their homes to live in other countries. It must take a lot of guts and determination. Especially people who leave with nothing except the hope of building a new life.

    • Russ in Sydney

      It does not take guts, all it takes is readjusting to the unfamiliar.

      I've lived in Africa, Malaysia and now in Australia, and would not mind moving to NZ.

    • In my geophysics days, my Dallas-based company and Statoil in Stavanger contemplated an exchange program: me for Per Thomasson for 3 years. He and his family would live in our home and us in his, driving each others cars and doing each others jobs. I would have to learn Norwegian and would have 6 months.

      On a visit to finalize the deal, the price of oil collapsed in a day and threw Statoil's budget into disarray and we were never able to do the exchange after all.  😢

    • I'm Irish and we have a long history of emmigration. Workers moved to England and Scotland for seasonal work and stayed. The Great Famine, in 1840's ish, led to mass emmigration to the US.

      My grandfather emmigrated to US in the 20's but returned to Ireland after 5 years.

      My sister emmigrated and lives in NJ.

      I applied for a visa for the US after leaving school and would have gone if I had been successful.

      I'm close to retirement and countries like portugal and Greece appeal, cheap cost of living and a much drier, warmer, climate. The incessant rain, high cost of living, nanny state politics, are all pushing me to go.

      With a laptop, you are never really out of touch.

    • I have, twice, but the story is not very dramatic. The first time was entirely unplanned. I had been traveling in Europe and covering too much ground in too little time, so I decided to go to Ibiza to rest for a month. I was very taken with the place (it was a lot nicer in the pre-disco days of 1970) and decided to find work and stay for a while. It turned out to be 15 years. I never really decided to stay that long; it just took that long to decide to leave. The second time was after I retired, when I moved to Madrid. My Spanish wife never liked living in the US and our daughter was getting a mediocre education in SF public schools, so going back to Spain seemed to make sense. It worked out well, on balance.

      I'm don't know whether I'll ever go back to the US to live. I'm quite sure that I've led a more interesting life than I would have if I had followed the "normal" path for someone of my background. But I do feel at times as if I don't belong anywhere, which is kind of sad. On the other hand, being an expat in the Internet era is a whole lot easier than it used to be. I read the same newspapers and watch the same programs as my American friends. And thank Vishnu for Skype!

      I was still in Ibiza in 1981 when a group of military and Guardia Civil attempted to overthrow the Spanish government. The coup attempt failed quickly, but we were extremely tense and wondering whether it was time to flee. Having settled in another country gave me the confidence that I could survive as a refugee if I had to. Of course I was a lot younger then. I don't know what I would do today if push came to shove. Nevertheless, I still worry about the possibility of not getting out in time.

    • Do you ever wonder what path your life may have taken, had you'd spent those 3 years in Norway?

    • Our family left USSR and came to America and we never looked back. It all happened after the fall of USSR, when Crimea became a part of Ukraine. Right as it happened there was a lot of unrest and political turmoil. The population at that time was about 95% Russians and wanted to either be an independent country or become a part of Russia. The though of being a part of Ukraine, learning a new language and the uncertainty of the conflict loomed over our family.

      The military stepped in and put an end to the uprising before it escalated into a full out war. I was 9 years old and I didn't really understand the ramifications of what was happening, but my father did. He foresaw the path the country was heading towards and decided that he didn't want to have his children's future be compromised by it.

      We immigrated to the states in 1999 with a Green Card and 3 suitcases. My dad immediately tried to find any job he could and worked as a pizza delivery guy and a construction worker for years. No one cared that he had a PhD and 2 Masters' Degrees, or that he had an exceptional career in the military over the 25 years and was going to become a General in the army right before we left. He left it all behind and here in the states none of this mattered anyway. If he had health and hands he could find work.

      It was an incredibly tough jorney for our family, but our relatives and friends, who stayed behind, are so happy for us and this difficult choice we made and wished they've done the same. We stay in touch and went back to visit them in Crimea a number of times.

      On a lighter note, here is a photo of my brother and I strolling through in our city park in Crimea before any of this happened:

    • We immigrated to the states in 1999 with a Green Card and 3 suitcases. My dad immediately tried to find any job he could and worked as a pizza delivery guy and a construction worker for years. No one cared that he had a PhD and 2 Masters' Degrees, or that he had an exceptional career in the military over the 25 years and was going to become a General in the army right before we left. He left it all behind and here in the states none of this mattered anyway. If he had health and hands he could find work.

      Thanks for sharing. How hard was it to obtain a green card?

      I'm told my great grand father fell into a deep depression after going from a very well off business man with his own driver to completely starting over in the states. How did your dad Manage to keep his spirits up? Was he eventually able to use his education towards a career in the US?

    • How hard was it to obtain a green card?

      We actually got lucky by winning a Green Card lottery on our first try.

      How did your dad Manage to keep his spirits up?

      Our dad tried to stay positive and look towards a brighter future. I'm sure he had plenty of moments, but he never showed it to us and we never saw him being deeply depressed.

      In fact there was a very dark time when his mother (our grandma) came to visit us for a month. It happened just a few months after we immigrated to the states and on her 3rd week with us she had a stroke while cooking dinner for us.

      The next few days from emergency room to the hospital bed and the decisions he personally had to make were unbelievably difficult. At one point doctors weren't sure if she would make it and even if she did, she wouldn't be able to move, speak or understand much of anything. The stroke damaged her brain significantly. Despite that my dad never lost hope and our grandma slowly started to recover on her own to the amazement of the doctors. After 4 weeks in the hospital a nurse from Israel flew in to help bring her back. She ended up mostly recovering and visited us again a year later all by herself and lived on for another 10+ years.

      As tragic as this event was for us and especially my dad, it brought him hope to never give up and fight to the last moment. He still tears up when he tells this story to us even though we were there with him as it happened.

      Was he eventually able to use his education towards a career in the US?

      His education didn't translate to a career in US since he was already 50 and his knowledge was highly specialized. However, his education taught him how to learn better and faster, persevere and never give up throughout his life. In that sense it was priceless.

    • I have never had to leave my country but I did leave my home province when I didn't really want to. I was pressured to move due to the lack of jobs. It helped that I had one sister living in the place I wanted to move. It was still however one of the hardest things I've done in my life even though there were many jobs where I went, I spoke the same language as most people, I had some support in the new location and I didn't have any dependents that relied on me. In the past I've seriously considered moving to the USA but I didn't and at this point I'm glad I didn't. I'm able to go visit the USA frequently if so desired so I have the best of both worlds. I have the utmost respect and empathy for people who leave their home country. As a teacher I'm regularly exposed to kids and families who have left their homes because they either wanted to or were pressured to do so. It is incredible the resilience people have. Most people anyway.

    • My wife and I sailed away from St. Petersburg, Florida in April 2001. We wanted to see some other places and have some adventures, and we did. We did not have any firm plans to stay gone or come back "home" at some point. It was really easy to keep going - there were many interesting people to meet and beautiful places to visit. There were challenges and defeats, and also great triumphs. We went seeking such and were not disappointed. We have quit sailing, but the boat is now converted into a guesthouse on our farm in the Dominican Republic. But this isn't home - we are strangers even after living here for almost nine years. We will move again some day to another country, but having visited the USA a few times I have to say I don't feel a bit homesick for it.

    • I did up and go from Russia to Israel at the age of 44, carting with me my partner, our daughter, a cat and a dog (and a bunch of books). It wasn't technically a difficult decision; I could have left pretty much anytime starting in mid-90s, had legit and possibly lucrative job offers every now and then, but I didn't want to. I love the country, the land, the people. I like what the current powers at the top are doing to all that not a single bit, though. So only when the inescapable stink in the air reached certain concentration, we left. In terms of privilege checking, our case is far from difficult - we both had portable jobs, speak decent English, had some savings. Most of the shock is cultural and adjustment to local realities. I'm lucky in that I have somehow inherited or developed quite a stable personality and am not much riled up by changes, including social; moreover, I'm a long time digital native and feel perfectly fine with a halfway decent internet connection :) working in hi-tech also insulates you from the harsher necessities of learning a new language quickly, at least here (for good or bad - we do want to speak the local tongue and we do NOT want to live in ghetto-like bubble)

      Three plus years onwards, I like to think that we are doing fine, and there's one more little kid now (who doesn't know what snow looks like). Can I say that we will stay rooted here? Hardly. We will definitely spend time here to allow kids to get their bearings and to learn to be explorers themselves. Then - who knows?

      P.S. I do slightly resent being technically landlocked in a country with all-year riding season though :) but hoping for the best there as well.

    You've been invited!