The 5 Most Inspiring TED Talks For Expats

Quote William Langewiesche

I recently noticed that I don’t seem to tend to compare my current life in Australia with the many years I spent living in Germany and Switzerland. I kind of just go with the flow. I guess that’s a good thing, as it means I’m not dwelling on the past too much.

Nevertheless, I think it’s important to take a step back every now and then to remember how amazingly lucky I am to live in this beautiful country. I sometimes feel like we forget about the magic in expat life, as we’re just so busy all the time with “getting stuff done”.

Being an expat, even if it is for a limited time, enables us to live differently, meet new people, explore different cultures, and even become part of these cultures. It’s amazing, really.

In honour of that, I have collated a list of my 5 favourite TED talks for expats. Not only are they inspiring, but they provide some great food for thought and may even help you explain your choice to live abroad to any family members or friends who “don’t quite get it”.

1. Pico Iyer: Where Is Home?

It’s quite amazing to think that Pico Iyer, who was born in the UK to Indian parents, went on to live in the States and then in Japan. My own path seems quite boring in comparison to that! In his talk, Pico Iyer outlines how difficult it is for a growing number of people to answer one simple question: Where is home?

2. Taiye Selasi: Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, Ask Me Where I’m A Local

In her inspiring talk, Taiye Selasi argues that where we’re from are is largely rooted in our local experiences, rather than simply the country we or our parents were born in. All of us are multi-local. She also argues that you can’t really come from a country, as countries are concepts that were created and they can therefore change at any time.

3. Hugh Evans: What Does It Mean To Be A Citizen Of The World?

You don’t have to be an expat to be a global citizen, but surely those of us who lived abroad should understand that many issues we face today are global problems. This should make expats great candidates to join Hugh Evans in his quest to solve problems on a global scale. This talk is a great reminder of the fact that we’re all equal and part of the same tribe. The human tribe.

4. Robert Waldinger: What Makes A Good Life? Lessons From The Longest Study on Happiness

In his TED talk, Robert Waldinger presents findings from a Havard study that has been going on for over 75 years (and counting!). He argues that there is only one thing that we need to remember: good relationships make for a happy life. It’s so simple, isn’t it? A good reminder to keep nurturing your relationships with friends and family, even if you live far away from some of your loved ones. Pick up the phone. Teach your grandmother to use Skype. Do whatever it takes to fill your life with happy relationships.

5. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger Of A Single Story

This is a powerful talk on how stereotypes can lead to cultural misunderstandings. We are all guilty of forming opinions of certain countries or people based on what is being fed to us by the media, our parents and peers, or even educational institutions. It’s important to keep an open mind and remember that every person we meet, no matter where he or she is from, is unique.

If you can recommend any great TED talks for expats that aren’t on my list, please get in touch!


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