Some Lists for Expatriates

by Rachel Pieh Jones on February 15, 2017

These are not lists of useful tools, resources, or things to pack. These are lists of things that I personally love and which, in my humble opinion, speak deeply into the expatriate experience.

The things listed have do two opposing functions in my life.

The first is that they encourage me to thoughtfully and creatively pay close attention to my unique expatriate life. This life is a gift and the cultural, faith, relational, and personal lessons I am learning are beyond valuable. These podcasts, books, and songs challenge me to be present.

And…

These things distract me from my expatriate life, specifically from the challenges and sorrows associated with it. I listen to the podcasts while I run and so am more able to ignore the harassment, stares, piles of garbage, and animal carcasses. I read the books before going to bed and I’m trying to forget about the ways I stepped in cultural poo that day, or while waiting in interminably long semi-lines at the bank. I listen to the songs while I cook with limited ingredients or on lonely holidays.

Podcasts

(because podcasts take our minds away or challenge or inspire or are just plain fun)

Serial

Radiolab

99% Invisible

Hidden Brain

On Being with Krista Tippett

Timothy Keller Sermons

Invisibilia

Two Fat Expats

And a bonus: (my actual favorite, as in the one that gets me out of bed for a dark, sweaty run, but probably totally uninteresting to most readers of A Life Overseas) The Longform Podcast

 

Books

(because we can’t only open a book to study language or culture or team dynamics)

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

From Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik

Heaven by Randy Alcorn

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Narnia series by C.S. Lewis (audiobooks – just try to make it through book 7 without crying)

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (and everything else by Brené)

Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas

Thirst by Mary Oliver

Quiet by Susan Cain

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

 

Songs

(because we all need the occasional dance party or ugly cry)

It Might Be Hope by Sara Groves

I Was Made for Sunny Days by The Weepies

Hard Way Home by Brandi Carlile (also, The Story)

The Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham

On the Road Again by Willie Nelson

Roam by the B-52’s

When it Don’t Come Easy by Patty Griffin

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now by The Clash

Wild World by Cat Stevens

Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac

Traveling Light by Leonard Cohen

Walk on Water by Jane Siberry (This song. You guys. Gorgeous.)

 

What podcasts, books, or songs speak powerfully into your own expatriate experience?

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About Rachel Pieh Jones

Rachel was raised in the Christian west and said, ‘you betcha’ and ate Jell-O salads, she now lives in the Muslim east, says ‘insha Allah,’ and eats samosas. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Family Fun, Running Times, and more, and she blogs for Brain Child and Babble.
  • Denise in Kenya 2

    The Psalms Project on YouTube is a great way to worship and study the Book of Psalms. Here in Kenya, a group of expats are using the Reading Scripture app from The Bible Project and sending a WhatsApp message to each other every day as we “punch in.”

  • Deborah

    Two songs – kind of opposite, but both speaking deeply to my sentiments on the life we are leading – In Exile by Thrice and North by Sleeping at Last. One a good reminder, one a voicing of some of my deepest wishes. I’ve also enjoyed On Being by Krista Tippet! 🙂

  • MaDonna

    Thanks Rachel, I read Behind the Beautiful Forever just last month. Good read. I’m now reading the Mitford series by Jan Karon, which is set in Appalachian Mountains of the US. Lighthearted and humorous is what I need now.

    Thanks for the suggestions about podcasts. I listen to K~love app when I run, but think I need something different.

  • Paul

    My wife and I spent a lot of our early time in Eastern European travelling by train throughout the region . Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ kept me company on many a long journey as did the Harry Potter series, which my wife and I used to fight over as the books came out! ‘The Historian’ by Elizabeth Kostova has also been a favourite. Another book that I always enjoyed on the long journeys around the region was ‘God’s Smuggler’ by Brother Andrews. For me it’s always special reading about his trips behind the iron curtain whilst making a similar journey myself.

    Music wise, ‘So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt’ by Keith Green often gets played when I feel like running away. And ‘Breathe Easy’ and ‘Everything is Simple’ an EP and Album by Dan Lyth from Fife in Scotland have helped keep my head above water when going through difficult seasons in life.

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