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What is an Intentional Expat?

What (who) is an Intentional Expat?

Intentional expats are those people who have left their home country, either by choice or necessity, in order to temporarily or permanently experience life in another country and culture, and who strive to proactively take the steps to make the very most of this exciting, memorable, and inevitably challenging, life change.

The name for this website was inspired by my own journey of transitioning from an accidental to an intentional expat, and my work as a psychologist specializing in helping individuals living a global lifestyle. 

My own journey towards becoming an intentional expat started over ten years ago when I traveled outside of North America for the first time with a study abroad tour organized by my university. I was twenty years old and eager to see France, Austria and Germany, but one country stood between me and unlimited crepes, opera and bratwurst: Spain. Despite my low expectations for our first stop on our Euro trip, it only took a couple of days in Madrid before I had fallen in love with the city. By the end of week one, I had already taken a  vow that I would move there one day.

And that’s exactly what I did. It only took four years, a handful of Spanish classes, a couple of shorter trips back to Europe, and plenty of sleepless nights and doubt filled drives to work, before I finally made this dream a reality. In September 2009,  I took a nine month break from working in the field of psychology to try my hand at teaching English in Madrid. Nine months turned into nearly a decade of battling the ups and downs of life abroad to make another dream come true: combining my love for psychology with living abroad.

After completing my Master’s and PhD in Clinical and Health Psychology in Madrid and working for several years as a therapist for individuals living a global lifestyle, I relocated to the Netherlands and began seeing clients through online video therapy sessions and my private practice in Amsterdam.

This website is not only how I connect with potential clients, but is also designed to provide some invaluable tips on living your own best life abroad wherever in the world you might find yourself. You can check out interviews with other people who have left their home country and find suggestions on managing life abroad, as well as information about more general mental health and well-being.

I hope that expats, migrants, third culture kids (TCKs), study abroad students, Peace Corps volunteers, English teachers working internationally, travel enthusiasts and others will find this blog to be helpful as they navigate the roller coaster that comes along with living a global lifestyle. And that anyone reading this blog while still at home will find inspiration to take the leap to try life abroad or use these tips to soak up all that life has to offer wherever in the world they are.

Take a look around to see if there´s something that’s useful to you and please contact me with any questions about therapy and/or suggestions you have for future blog posts!

~Dr. Melissa Parks