Cocooning The Expat

An expat may be guiltier than most of cocooning.

It seems ridiculous that someone can travel to the other side of the world only to seek out others with the same beliefs.

I select all of my newspapers, music, television, and podcasts. This allows me to listen, read or hear exactly what I feel is relevant or interesting. The days of suffering through twenty minutes of an unchosen radio documentary, or watching the tail end of something I haven’t chosen before something I have, are gone. I choose each “thought provoking” topic, well it would be, if I hadn’t chosen it.

I am cocooned in my own beliefs. I cannot be swayed into thinking otherwise, for I have chosen not to listen.

Good things break free from cocoons: pretty things, new things.

A chance to travel is a chance to learn, a free education at your doorstep.

Begin a chat with a security guard, a local, a fellow traveler of a different origin, and you will be immediately transported to another world. You will not be able to speak of people, for there are no mutual friends or acquaintances, you will be forced to speak of ideas, customs and traditions.

Mark Twain once said that “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” Mark had never been on an end of season football trip, taken a last minute deal to Bali, or listened to a bunch of expats talk about which beach club membership to choose.

I was taught how to play Canasta with a group of Spanish women in Jakarta. I went to an ante-natal class with a group of non-english speakers in Malaysia. I learnt how to buy my vegetables with my Libyan neighbour – but somehow here in Qatar I have cocooned myself into a very ordinary life of school runs, sports practice, family life and work.

I’ve curled up and become comfortable, wrapping myself in the familiar under a blanket of easy.

I’ve scanned the course list, thought about the lessons, it’s time to listen to a few new ideas.

Sign up for the best bits here

Sign up for the best bits from our community of forty thousands expats. Every Saturday morning we’ll shoot you the five hottest topics from the world of expat.

Powered by ConvertKit


  1. Though it is a Christian notion, it relates… Last year I was reminded, “We are not called to be comfortable.” It is definitely easier. But never best. Looking forward to hearing what courses, lessons and ideas develop. x

  2. I find I swing between spending time with my Indian friends in the compound and seeking the familiar with expat school mum friends. It gives me a happy mix. Let me know if you’d like to pop over for some cooking classes 😉

  3. Now that I’m back “home” in the US, I’ve discovered how much I must have cocooned while overseas. Because we’re constantly on the go, out see friends, go to this activity, that event, this kid thing or that. And frankly it all stresses me out! I’m not used to being on the go this much – our overseas life was much more relaxed, if sometimes boring or lonely.

  4. You’ve had rather too much Life recently – so maybe it’s ok to fall back on the familiar for a while. But it won’t last – you’ll be ready for the travelling fray before long.

  5. I appreciate your honesty in this post. It’s something I fight against on an almost daily basis. We only get one go in this world, and as Mark Twain’s famous quotes (my favorite is the ‘throw off the bowlines’ one) remind us, let’s not waste it. If you can’t broaden your horizons while living in another culture, when the hell can/will you?

  6. I think this is a side-effect of changes in media, not just an expat thing. Even before I left Australia I’d stopped reading newspapers or watching the nightly news, I just read what interested my online. If something is by Annabel Crabb I read it, if it is by Andrew Bolt I don’t. When you get so used to only being surrounded by agreement it comes as a shock to encounter a completely different world view. As you said, it is a good and necessary thing, but I feel that it is becoming increasingly rare.

Speak Your Mind