About

Expat Edna at London 2012 Closing Ceremony

London Olympics, 2012

I’m a Pennsylvania native who left home at 18 to work my way — literally — around the world.

Since 2008 I’ve lived and worked in Paris, Italy, Singapore, and China (twice!), while traveling to up to 20 countries every year.

For those wondering, “How do you do it?”: the answer is in this detailed 5-year update here. If you’re looking for my general life story and how I got here, read on!

*

I first moved abroad in early 2008. I was 18 years old and spent my sophomore / junior year of university on a gap year in China: teaching English in Dalian, writing for a city blog, and managing events for a tech start-up in Shanghai.

At 20, I graduated with a BA in political science from a tiny liberal arts school near my hometown in Pennsylvania.

Two weeks later, I left the US for good.

Singapore 2010

Singapore, 2010

NEWLY 21, I moved to Singapore on a whim — I had $700 to my name, zero job prospects, and only a hazy idea of where the country was on a map. Eventually, I landed a job as the social media manager for an Asian reality television show.

It was in Singapore that I kickstarted my dream job in international sports — a career path that, for the next three years, would take me to the London and Sochi Olympicsand sporting events across three continents (including one fascinating month with FIFA in Azerbaijan).

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AT 22, I moved to Paris (yet another whim — I’d never been to Europe) to learn French and eat all the cheese and drink all the cocktails and have all the picnics. I stayed for two years and it was it was fabulous.

Bastille Day - Expat Edna

Fabulous, I tell you.

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AFTER LEAVING Paris at 24, there was a failed attempt to live in northern Italy.

Post-Italy, I spent a few months backpacking Europe and Southeast Asia, then spent three weeks in Russia covering Sochi 2014.

AT 25, I moved back to Asia, and spent a year working with Ford on their Asia Pacific comms team, which is headquartered in Shanghai. While I don’t regret going corporate, in May 2015 I quit my job to return to my true love: sports and travel & food writing.

ON MY 26th birthday, exactly five years to the day after I graduated, I flew to Japan and embarked on a new adventure as a freelance writer slash nomad, traveling for as long and as far as my writing will take me.

These days, I consider Paris my home base. When I’m not on the road, you’ll likely find me there.

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At the Bund, 1995

The Bund, Shanghai 1995

I blog to share many things, but especially also to prove:

You don’t need to sacrifice a career to travel. Not only have I managed to find jobs in each country I’ve moved to — travel is what led me to my dream career in the Olympic movement.

You don’t need to be rich to travel. I grew up with very little: my parents were immigrants who moved to the US as grad students (and partly for political asylum — my Dad’s story is here).

Yet even on MINIMUM WAGE jobs, my parents still managed to scrape together enough to send me to Shanghai to visit my grandparents, every summer.

So no, I don’t come from money — since leaving the nest at 16, I’ve worked and hustled for a decade to give myself a life of travel.

And finally: I want to show you the importance of moving abroad. It’s not about luck. It’s about buying that one-way ticket, saying why not? and making your own adventure.

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Paris Gaels

Paris Gaels, 2012

MOAR STUFF

* I’m kind of really into Ireland. I picked up Gaelic football when I moved to Dalian in 2008 and have since played on teams in Paris, Milan, and across China.

* I love gin and tonics, a good Belgian blanche, and seriously dark porters and stouts.

* I was published in a book once! It’s this one.

* The photoblog of my China years can be found here.

Contact

Want to get in touch? I can be reached via edna at expatedna dot com, facebook, G+, twitter, and instagram.

Comments

  1. Hi Edna!

    Nice to meet you! I just discovered your blog :) I’m Malaysian but I’ve been living in France for almost 7 years now…

    If you want to discover the north of France (I’m living in Lille), just tell me!

    Bonne journée!

  2. Hi Edna and welcome to Paris!
    I think we’re connected on twitter through Kasia.

    If you’re interested in coming to the spring kickoff of THATLou (Treasure Hunt @ the Louvre) on Sunday 4 March take a look at THATLou.com or drop me a line at daisydeplume@gmail.com.

    Kind regards,
    Daisy de Plume

  3. love anything irish?! wow, that’s great to know!! =)

  4. You’re an inspiration! Can’t wait to read more :)

  5. Hi Edna – thanks for following my blog. If you ever want to meet for coffee while you’re in Paris, drop me a line – I think we’d have lots to talk about! (Strangely enough, Galway is also one of my favourite places in Ireland!) :)

  6. Hi Enda, thanks for the great blog. So cool to see you playing Gaelic football ! I originally logged onto your post about Dublin, which was excellent. You ask for further suggestions, so I am going to leave one or two in the right place, ie: in the comments under your Dublin post. For anyone of your readers who is particularly interested in Dublin or planning a visit there over the next few months, they might wish to visit my blog too. Although the older posts are about Buenos Aires in Argentina, I am from Dublin and the more recent posts, and the future ones are all about Dublin. There is even a little picture quiz there at the moment. Well done again on your blog… it is great!

  7. Welcome to Ireland. I moved here about a year ago from Vancouver (I also have a bit of a bug and lived in a few cities in Asia) and it’s taking a while to get used to it. Galway is very lovely. Are you still in Ireland?

  8. Good for you girl. Living the life. I just started my own wanderings in 2010, but hope to continue for the rest of my life.

  9. You go girl! ;-)

  10. maryrsd says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your adventures certainly look exciting! I’ll be following regularly!

  11. Hi Edna, London this year is very exciting actually, are you gonna be there?

  12. You have been nominated for a Kreativ Blogger Award. Enjoy! http://culturalquirks.com/2012/05/31/award-season-is-here/

  13. I came across your site via a retweet and started looking around. I’m also from York, PA, and am so happy to find a travel blog of a fellow (York) Pennsylvanian. Can’t wait to start following your adventures. :)

  14. Hi Edna! Great blog you have here! My hubby and I moved from Singapore to Paris last year and like you, are exploring the city and sharing our adventures (Paris and beyond) in our blog. To many adventures in the days/weeks/years ahead as we satisfy our wanderlust :)

  15. Because I love reading your blog so much I´ve nominated you for the Lovely Bloggers award! For more information check out my blog! Hope you´re having a great Sunday! :)

  16. Thanks for the follow! You’re blog looks great. I love connecting with fellow travel addicts!

  17. You are an inspiration

  18. Fun! I lived in Singapore for 4 months when I was 17, and not my hubby and I are expats in Serbia! I have the travel bug as well! Happy travels!

  19. Addenbrooke says:

    Wow, this website is really fantastic Edna – beautifully designed and laid-out, beautifully photographed and most importantly interesting to read. Congratulations on the redesign and a job well done, work in progress and all.

  20. Just stumbled upon your blog and read your story. It’s always interesting to know how people get to travel around the world. Your story though seems somewhat more similar with mine than the other travel bloggers. I move countries a lot too (7 cities so far), but I stay at one place a bit more than a year (so far 3 years is the longest in the past 14 years). I’ve lived in Singapore and Australia too, and am now in London. Sounds familiar? :)

  21. Great story! I really wish I had taken the idea of living abroad seriously when I was in school. Better late than never, I suppose. Currently, I’m working to pay off some bills then the plan is to move to China and start a business. Congrats on the engagement!

  22. Dearest E,
    Finally your wonderful post on the background of the Expat Edna blog is live.
    Sorry it took me so long!
    http://thatlou.com/2012/12/09/friends-of-thatlou-edna-zhou/
    xx,
    D

  23. Just looked at your about page for the first time and I LOVE that picture of you when your little at the Bund. TOO cute! just had to say that…. :)

  24. Hopped over here after a comment you left, and I have to give you a special hello from one Pennsylvania native to another! I’m from Philly (born & raised!) and am so envious of your fantastic expat life. Living in Paris is a dream I’ve had for as long as I can remember, and I’m making it come true next spring! Well, hopefully, there are a lot of little things to take care of first. I’m so happy you found my blog so I could find yours! I’m going to go do some catch-up reading. :) xo

  25. What a great story! So glad I came across your blog today.

  26. Hi Edna,
    I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award: http://ninstravelog.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/versatile-blogger-award/ because I are really enjoy your blog especially your photographs and variety of the content. Enjoy!
    Nin.

  27. Hi, Edna! I know you’ve been a busy bee, but I just wanted to let you know I’ve just nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Check it out here: http://www.missadventuretravel.com/inspiring-blogger-award/

  28. Hi, Edna! Just stumbled across your blog and love it- I totally can relate to your “about” page…currently working on getting my degree in Communications and PR in Arizona and desperately want to spend some years traveling after I finish school! You’re definitely an inspiration :)

  29. Hi Edna, I stumbled across your blog through Kate (“Adventurous Kate”) and Ashley (“Ashley Abroad”) and thought I’d say hi. I also especially like the picture of you when you at the Bund in Shanghai when you were little. I have been to China three times in the last three and a half years, twice alone in 2013, and I fell madly in love with the country. Both times last year I also spent a few days in Shanghai. Enjoy your time in Europe and let me know if you come to Germany.

    Happy and healthy New Year 2014 and always great travels.

  30. Hey Edna. Great blog but you failed to mention that you are part of a winning pub quiz team in London :-)

  31. I just discovered your site and it’s fast becoming my favorite travel blog. Well done! Especially I’m enjoying reading the series ‘Why I love My Neighborhood.’

  32. Samar Misra says:

    Love your blog! BTW, which country are your ancestors from?

  33. I LOVE the new About you page.. Strange to say, I feel like I’ve known you for years! lol ;)

  34. I love your blog – just discovered today – so excited to read about your experiences. Looking forward to the next chapter!

  35. Teresa says:

    Hi just wanted to say I love your blog and following you around on Snapchat through the world! You are bringing the wanderlust out of me and I am planning my first trip to Italy, France, London sometime in sept! ? its my dream to become an expat in Europe and travel. I was wondering do you have any advice on getting a job in the EU? I’ll be graduating nursing school in a year but would consider changing my majors if needed to land a job in the EU and follow my real dream of traveling. Do you know which career field in The EU/France that commonly hires/sponsors non EU citizens? It’s so overwhelming when I try researching online. I get alot of the same results, that either its very difficult to get a job as a noneu citizen or teach English. Any help or info would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much for taking us around the world with you. We are truly living through your snaps lol.

  36. Hi Edna,

    Strangely enough, I only came across your website AFTER I had followed you on Snapchat! Now that’s a first. Thankfully, you recently snapped an image and included your website, otherwise I wouldn’t have known about your site at all! Your travels always look so amazing and I’m glad I’ve found your site, looking forward to reading all your stuff!

    Amy

  37. Just discovered your blog today.. Only wanted to see the source of a photo and now 45mins later, I’m still on it, reading article after article. You’re very brave and an inspiration and I think it’s awesome that you manage to find jobs wherever you go. I wish you all the best in your travels

  38. Well this answers many questions I had for you! Keep on living your dream girl, it is truly an inspiration! Thank you for sharing :)

  39. Hi Edna,

    I’m about to finish my university degree and hoping to begin the next few years travelling and working in different places around the world, away from my hometown in London

    I was wandering if you had any advice on the financial aspect of this decision.

    Thanks, K

  40. Hi Edna, Great blog. Looking forward to following your journeys!

  41. I love the “I will do it myself” attitude. There are so many people who think that good things will just come to them. Go, Edna!

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