Some Lists for Expatriates

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.


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.


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



99% Invisible

Hidden Brain

On Being with Krista Tippett

Timothy Keller Sermons


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



(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



(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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Rachel Pieh Jones

Rachel writes about life at the crossroads of faith and culture. Her work is influenced by living as a foreigner in the Horn of Africa, raising three Third Culture Kids, and adventurous exploration of the natural world. She has been published in the New York Times, Runners World, the Big Roundtable, and more. Check out her latest book, Stronger than Death: Get all her stories and updates in the Stories from the Horn newsletter

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