• Colette van Boxtel | gewoonColette

'The shortest path to oneself leads around the world'

Updated: 3 days ago

This article is not about living abroad or finding purpose in life. I will leave that to my next article. Now, I want to explore “why women do choose to live abroad?”.

My personal story about living and working abroad began in 2012 when I started working for a Dakar Team from the Netherlands. I liked the international sporty vibe and I loved to pair it with my marketing knowledge. Working in different cultures and different languages has always triggered me and it felt like a dream coming true.


After the Dakar rally I also worked for Aluqua Exclusive Boats and the Morocco Dessert Challenge . Every time you work in an new country and in a new environment you have to find out the rules and customs. It’ s like starting all over again, and again. And I love that!


In 2019 I followed my partner to New Zealand after he got hired as a Solution Architect. It was a difficult though rewarding time. I was very lonely and desperate. I felt guilty for leaving my parents and relatives and the fact that we took their grandchildren away from them. But I find living abroad and integration to be the best possible way to connect with people from different cultures.

Last year I explored and researched the living abroad topic and I started my personal project www.womenlivingabroad.com . I found a lot of interesting research examining "citizens of the world." Such globe-trotting lifestyle is getting more and more common. And not only for digital nomads, backpackers, immigrants but also for expatriates, internationals or whatever name fits you.


"In a world where living-abroad experiences are increasingly common and technological advances make cross-cultural travel and communication ever easier, it is important to understand what the effect is on people. Living abroad effects the fundamental structure of the self-concept by enhancing its clarity. The German philosopher Hermann von Keyserling wrote in the epigraph to his 1919 book 'The Travel Diary of a Philosopher,' 'The shortest path to oneself leads around the world.'

One of the aspects of the project that made my heart beat faster was the more holistic examination of life and work when starting living abroad. With extra attention for women who are pursuing careers (equal to their partner).

I wanted to know whether a healthy dose of flexibility and curiosity were sufficient, or if there were definable qualities, attitudes and preparation determination that lead to a successful living abroad experience.

I was curious to learn about other ambitious women with a healthy work ethos followed their partners to another country. How did they deal with rejection and how did they overcome self-doubt? Did they have to manage the household while living abroad? How did they manage financially?

I had a lot of questions about how and why people want to start this journey. I wanted to discover how a living abroad experience shapes your perspective to the world.

There is a common perception that people who travel a lot are fleeing from something. Was that the case with me?

I wanted to find out about the roles I had to adapt to in my new life and how to redefine myself when start living abroad.

I had questions about being a parent and the influence of expat life on my young children.

When I googled for 'women living abroad' and 'women who are not housewives + following your partner' I didn't find information that really elevated my mood.


I didn't fit the box and felt not like a typical Expat Women at all.



As the personal project advanced, I began hearing more about the ups and downs of life living abroad. I hadn’t expected quite as much of this. Together with my business partner Ella we talked for hours and started looking for answers together and created this website. And that’s why womenlivingabroad.com has become a little bit more than just a personal project.


We want to make it easier for women and their loved ones to live abroad.

colette@womenlivingabroad.com

021 969 554 (NZ) 

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