Expat Life: The Sucky Part

by Miss Footloose

sad faceThree men came to our apartment, packed up our stuff and they were gone in less than an hour and a half. When we see our possessions again, we’ll be a continent and an ocean away from here, Moldova, the small country where we have lived for the past 18 months.

Thank you Moldova, for being friendly and safe, for having generous people and lovely wine. It was good knowing you and your people who made us feel welcome.

Expat life. You pack up, you move, you unpack, you live, you make friends, you pack up, you say goodbye. Repeat, repeat, repeat. So it is for the serial expats at any rate. If only I could box up my friends, ship them along with my special dishes and funky jewelry collected in different places around the world. But no, I will have to leave them behind.


I said goodbye to my book club friends on Wednesday. We drank Moldovan wine, we had a good-sad time, we talked about meeting up in France some time in the future. We all dreaded the goodbyes. Partir est mourir un peu, as the French say: Leaving is dying a little.

Thursday night was my last weekly drinks-with-the-girls night where we have deep discussions about saving the world and where to get a good manicure. We drank champagne and toasted to friendship. We decided to say “until next time” because, hey, it happens. It might not be forever. We’ll see each other again, somewhere, sometime. Hope springs eternal. In the meantime there’s Facebook and email and this blog.

La Sarkis

Thursday nights at Sarkis

There will be more goodbyes this weekend. And then, on Wednesday we’ll board a plane and begin the trek back to our little house in West Virginia in the US, where we will be until we decide on new horizons next year.

I don’t mind the packing and unpacking. I love discovering new countries, meeting new people. What I don’t love is saying goodbye to friends. There is no need for me to elaborate on this part of the nomadic life because most expats share the same feelings about it: It’s dying a little and it sucks. So I’m going to stop here. Except let me say this: The only way to avoid the misery of goodbyes is to simply not make friends. It’s not a skill I want to cultivate.

Goodbye to all of you. You know who you are. Thanks for being my friends, thanks for all the good talks and happy times. Au revoir! See you next time!

* * *

How do you deal with saying goodbye? Any tales?


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A thing I learned from my Mom is to write a “secret hidden letter” that you then hide in the leaving person’s luggage (if they are going and you are staying) or that you put somewhere in the house (if you are going and they are staying).

Do you know what I find even more difficult: expat friends around you moving on. When you are the one moving at least there is something exciting to look forward to. But if friends go they leave just a gap. Having just moved a few months ago I have already met really nice people who are moving again very soon.. It is a constant coming and going in expat live… (nice dutchism ;))


I suppose it’s an indication that you’re alive and not terribly autistic.

I have always assumed that I would see the really important people again, or at least hear from them. And there is always the risk that if you do see them, that the memory of them will prove to have been preferable to their present reality. Nowadays, at class reunions, my lively young classmates of blesséd memory all seem to send their grandparents.

And he who says “love” must say “loss”.


Hi, I live in Moldova now and I blog about it sometimes. In fact, I have seen you around also – at the meetings of International Women’s Club. Wow, and only now do I realize you have been writing a blog and that you have left already. If only had I known, I would have caught you to chat about blogging and Moldova! what a pity…. I know some people from the book club, so I shall ask them about you 🙂

best of wishes in your next adventure !


I can now even feel more for you, having just this morning sold my car. Makes it all the more final all of a sudden, even though I still got two months to go (just felt a bit panicky about the car, but now at least I can write a blog post on how to sell your car in SA:-).

Finland blog

Yes I have been there when I was young My father was in the Royal Navy so I was constantly moving,some 12 schools before I was 16, Now I am living in Helsinki Finland and have been the last 24 years I have had the chjances to retuturn to the UK,but I am more than happy in Finland.Very little crime,good food and better accomodation her than back in UK. Maybe you should think of settling down in one country,unless you are moving for work It can be difficult to part from new freinds all the time,lor keep two homes as… Read more »

Donna DelCheccolo

I didn’t know you had a house in WV What part? I live in Huntington


I didn’t know you were leaving so soon! 🙁 I’ve really enjoyed your tales of Moldova, a part of the world I knew nothing about before. Happy travels and I look forward to hearing your tales of adventure in Darkest Virginia.

Hi Miss Footloose —

It didn’t seem so long ago that I read about your having recently moved *to* Moldova. Guess it shows how long I’ve been reading your blog now — and how quickly time flies.

And ya, it can be “sucky” to leave a lot of good friends behind. But… have to say it can feel worse to have been left behind! (I’ve been in both situations, so…) In any event, hope it’s case of “au revoir” — rather than a permanent “goodbye” — for you and many of your friends. 🙂

I find goodbyes very hard indeed. I can understand it must be sad for you to leave. Where are you off to next?

It’s the ying and yang of expat life and yes, you’re right, it’s the sucky part. But at least the weirdness of repatriation will be fodder for many blog posts 🙂 If you’re still in the US next spring perhaps you can drop by the Families in Global Transition Conference in DC and meet lots of interesting people who’ll be only too glad to listen to your stories. Good luck with the move.

Oh Miss Footloose, what a timely blog post. I too will be in your shoes only too soon! And thank you for that last part about the only solution being not to make friends. You’re absolutely right, and it’s never an option. The old saying of “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Still, it hurts. And this time it really feels like they were the best friends ever.


Well said, Miss Footloose. Saying goodbye is the flip side of the enviable expat life. I still dream of having a giant global get together with friends from around the world that I made at each stage of life.
Like you said the farewells are painful, but to go through life without friends would be devastating, so I raise my glass to your next adventure.

Sally Harclerode

oooooh.. what a superb bitter-sweet post.. thank you..


Hi Dear, Any chance for a second return to Yerevan???
Moving must be a second nature for you by now.
Often remember you with Ana and miss you a lot.
Where would you be stationed next??

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