Expat Sat: Writing Prompt #7: Fear

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

This is #7 of 10 in a series of writing prompts for expat writers. So listen up, my nomadic pals. Then grab your keyboards and start writing.


Fill in the blanks in the following statement:

Before I moved to ________ [host country], I was afraid of ________.

Come on, come on…don’t be afraid to admit your fears, however unfounded. Fear is a natural reaction to the unknown. And as you well know, packing up your life and moving to a new country is rife with unknowns.

To help you out, I’ll start…

Before moving to China, I was afraid that I would never learn to speak Chinese, never be able to communicate, and as a result, get stranded in some remote part of Shanghai during a wayward taxi ride.


Little did I know that even AFTER learning to speak Mandarin and AFTER being able to communicate fairly well in China, I’d still get lost in remote parts of Shanghai during wayward taxi rides.

There were a couple doozies, too, including the taxi ride during which we drove backward on the highway because we’d missed our exit.

So what about you? What scared you?

  • The boogie man?
  • Getting sick?
  • A new job in a new country?
  • Tossing your kids into an international school?
  • Learning how to use a squatty potty?
  • Living in a Muslim community?
  • Curry?
  • Language barriers?
  • Learning a new subway system?
  • Camels on your street?
  • Fat, juicy spiders sneaking into your bed at night?

Writing Assignment: Pick one of the fears you had about moving to a new country. Own it. Explain how that fear felt…how it manifested itself in your daily life. Then tell how you’ve worked through (or not worked through) the fear now that you’ve actually lived in your host country.

Tip: Back to one of my writing mantras…thou shalt not pussyfoot around. Tell it like it is.



Image: federico stevanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net