Expat Sat: Writing Prompt: Split

Welcome to Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writing. And where every Saturday, I offer tips for writing, publishing, and thriving to expat writers around the globe.

This is #1 of 10 in a series of writing prompts for expat writers. So grab your keyboards, my friends, and start writing.


It’s no secret that expats often feel split. Divided. Cut in half. Between two (or more) places.

If I were a giant, I’d tower over the earth with one foot in the U.S. and one foot in China and rock back and forth between the two.

I’m grateful for this “splitness”–this duality. I love it, cherish it, even slobber all over it sometimes, but at the same time, it hurts…so much I sometimes find myself doubled-over and groaning.

Here’s your writing challenge for the week. Watch this video (which captures this feeling of “splitness” pretty darn well) and then write about your own experiences with feeling split…divided. A few questions to get you started.

  • How does that “split” feeling manifest itself in you?
  • Where do you feel it? (belly, head, heart, etc.)
  • Do you feel it more when you’re visiting your home country or when hunkered down in your host country? How come?
  • Do folks back home understand the feeling? Are they interested?
  • What’s one story that exemplifies this feeling for you? (“the time I was______”)


Splitscreen: A Love Story from JW Griffiths on Vimeo.


(A big nod to Sion Dayson (an American expat in Paris) who posted this video a few weeks back and who knows this feeling very well.)


2 Responses to Expat Sat: Writing Prompt: Split

  1. @Kristin
    I second your nod to Sion Dayson. I found her video very moving — it had me in tears! (As you know, I lived for many years in the UK and in Japan, before repatriating to the US…)

  2. Thanks for the shout-out, Kristin! Just want to clarify for the commenter up there that I only posted the video, but the filmmaker was actually JW Griffiths. Want to make sure the right artist is credited! (Though I’d love if I *were* capable of making such a movie!)