8 Reasons Why Nashville is a Good City for an Expat

There are a lot of sides to Music City USA that I continue to discover. It has been a little over two years and I have been slowly but surely warming up to this place. Not everything is great (point me to the place where everything is and I will pack my bags) but overall: Nashville is a rather nice place to be. Of course there are downsides like constantly rising rent/house prices, people who forgot the Civil War happened, drivers who get scared every time it barely rains but I have come to love it here. And I will tell you why.

1. The climate 
Although Nashville is technically The South it gets cold here too. And trust me: you feel it. The summers are excruciatingly hot but hey, your chances of wearing shorts and t-shirts for Christmas are very high. And I don’t know about you but I will take this over a lot of things.

2. There is a river 
Yeah it is a little dirty and unless you want to lose a limb you will be strong enough to swim in it. For this girl, however, water is everything. I know I can’t just jump in but it is so calming to look outside my work window and see the water glistening in the sun. Total Zen.

3. You can continue to be a snowflake
Although Nashville tries to be as international as it possibly can, this town has some growing up to do. Walking around the streets of downtown Nashville you will probably not hear Ukrainian or Russian. I didn’t. This one has a flip side too - sometimes you feel totally alone but people take interest in you! Well, those who know where Ukraine is.

4. The city is very ambitious
You are surrounded by talented artists (mostly musicians) who are trying to ‘make it’. It is infectious to be friends with someone who is invested in their dreams and are working hard to achieve them. Makes you kind of look at your life and get depressed. I mean, re-evaluate.

5. Transport
To start with: the transport system in the US sucks and we all know it. However, if choosing your place of living strategically you can actually get around on buses with minimal to no damage in Nashville. If worse comes to worst you can always spend 4 hours at the DMV and get your driver’s license. You know, it is up to you.

6. It is a party city aka welcome to Nashvegas
and all that this entails. There is no time to be down in this town - this is Music City USA and we mean it. Live music starts at 11am and goes into the night. You can find your country stuff on Broadway or go to East Nashville to enjoy a different music scene. I can’t stress it enough - if not in cultures Nashville is hella diverse in music.

7. The hidden gems 
I knew about a Ukrainian store (alright, alright, it is Russian and Eastern European market but I choose to call it a Ukrainian store ‘cause it is owed by a Ukrainian family. There you have it) and that was a nice bonus of moving here. However, I recently discovered a kickass Asian market (which sells Ukrainian chocolate…?) and I am sure there are other little spots I am not aware of as in now. Isn’t it exciting?

8. The city is a little blue dot in a red state Not to get political but it is nice to be surrounded by open-minded people who know that love is love is love is love. My own little island of sanity of like-minded people. Diversity is at this party as well. It is pretty rocking.

Expat Homecoming: Year #2

Andrew and I went back to Ukraine! After freezing our butts off for a little over two weeks we are back in the States and it is time to reflect. It was a good trip, filled with ‘You’ve gotten so fat’ and ‘When are you having kids’ moments I am trying to erase from my memory. You know, the usual.

I wanted to talk about something that has been on my mind for awhile. I will ambitiously call it ‘a pace of life’. It is true in every country - you don’t work you don’t eat. People work their asses off just to put food on the table: Ukrainians and Americans alike. I hear a lot from my US friends and colleagues about a work-life balance and how hard it sometimes is to maintain/find a job that allows you to have it. For the longest time I wasn’t entirely sure what they were talking about. Ukraine is more simple I guess in that department. You go to work 5 days a week, you come home, you do stuff on the weekend. Or at least this is what I was used to. Time after work on a weekday is the time to be home with your family, watch TV, read, do whatever. I guess Ukrainians do not have that need to constantly be moving - we know when to stop and reflect.

Andrew and I sometimes argue when I get into that Ukrainian state of mind. It is not that my people don’t do anything fun - this fun has a special time and this time can’t interfere with work or family/alone time. Granted, it might just be me. In the States it feels like if you come home after work and just relax - you are wasting time, you are considered lazy. A lot of my friends here devote time to their hobbies or side businesses after their main jobs. In Nashville especially - you are a musician, you worked on your day job now you are out to create music, write lyrics, or rehearse. I do think this is great - I just don’t want to be considered lazy if I don’t do something like this. This stigma just feels unfair when in reality, I do what I need to do: enjoy my life, put food on the table, pay rent, travel. Smaller things fulfill me. I have side gigs and go out whenever I have something to do and someone to do it with. However, time with myself to me is never wasted time. I am my own biggest investment.

There was a lot of eating, sleeping, and walking around involved when we were in Ukraine. Small town life is so much different from what we now are used to. It gets ‘boring’ sometimes but hey, so many people across the world do not have the luxury to just sit and read for a few hours. The thing is: I feel like Americans are running a marathon - Ukrainians are here for a stroll. And once again, I am here not knowing which one is better. Should there even be one to be ‘better’? As always I am sticking to my song: the magic of being an expat is to have a chance to see two cultures, nurture the things you like in them and let go of the things you don’t. Travel opens up your eyes to what there is in the world - expat living gives you a chance to dissect a culture.

It was a good trip. Hell, I got a new dress out of it! This time around it was almost impossible to leave. I don’t know if this is because Andrew was with me and I didn’t have to miss him or because I am getting older and more sentimental. Or just ‘cause we always want what we don’t have.

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