Photo Credit: TN
I Lived Around The World As A Diplomat, Multilingual Educator And Content Creator; Now I Love Life In Brazil
Meet Chelsea, a Black expat who has made several homes across the globe and is now enjoying life in Brazil. While encouraging other women of color and underrepresented groups to fearlessly explore the world as she does, she has figured out the kind of lifestyle that feels good and freeing to her. Check out what life lessons and adventures Chelsea has encountered as a Black expat abroad in this Travel Noire interview.
Tell us about who you are and what prompted your expat journey
I’m Chelsea and I wear many hats. I am a diplomat, multilingual educator, content creator, and fearless adventurer. And though I call Baltimore home, over the last ten years I have found myself living in India, Spain China, and Vietnam while traveling to neighboring countries. Currently, I’m living in Brazil.
I wasn’t always a world explorer…
Growing up, I dreamed about cruising the Nile, sleeping under the stars of the Sahara Desert, and walking on the Great Wall of China. Not only did I desire to travel the world, I wanted to get paid doing so.
I thought my dreams were the stuff of fairy tales because I only knew a few who traveled, let alone anyone who did so for a living. I also didn’t think I could afford it.
My life did a complete 180 when I studied in India during my junior year of college. It was a game- changer like nothing I had experienced before. I lived my best life floating on a houseboat in Kerala, eating bomb food like naan and tandoori chicken, and spending hours talking to my Indian classmates under fans in their dorm rooms.
I was hooked! India, unlocked the door to the rest of the world, changing my life forever. It gave me courage to pack two suitcases and move to a little town outside of Madrid, where few spoke English, and I didn’t know a soul. I went on to have experiences around the world that I used to pray for and dream about.
Was there anything you had to sacrifice or adjust for your new nomadic lifestyle?
For me, I had to sacrifice comfort. When I made the leap to move to Spain especially, it terrified me because I didn’t know anyone there, have a place to live, nor did I speak the language at the time. I had to step out on faith and trust that everything would work out and I would be okay… and it did. It wasn’t easy, but I eventually got on my feet. I learned Spanish, found an apartment, and made friends. Living in Spain led to my opportunity in China.
I discovered that no matter what country I’m living in, whether that is Spain, Brazil, India, China, Vietnam, etc I will always be out of my comfort zone. I’ve learned that you have to take living abroad as an expat one day at a time; one moment at a time. It will all work out in the end and will be worth it.
How do you encourage others to take on a life of travel?
My personal mission is to encourage, educate, and inspire women of color and underrepresented groups about travel and international affairs opportunities while sharing my personal experiences as an expat. I do this by uploading weekly videos on Hey Ms. Traveler, my personal YouTube channel and blog. I talk about travel careers, travel tips, and my lived experiences as a diplomat.
I also interview other people in the travel industry including pilots, an international lawyer working for the UN, a travel writer, an international social worker among others.
What has been the best thing to happen since making the big move to Brazil?
The best thing since moving to Brazil is learning and living the Carioca (from Rio de Janeiro) lifestyle. I love the food, people, weather, and beach! But the best thing that has happened to me from all my time living abroad is the confidence to know if I can make it away from home, I can make it anywhere!
What advice do you have for Black expats hoping to move abroad?
Do it and feel free to reach out to me on my YouTube channel/blog to let me know how it goes!