Meet Josh: A Young, Part-Time Expat

Josh reminded me that #livingoverseasparttime is for all ages. We met by chance at a popular local bakery that we quickly found was loved by both of us.

Josh is about 19-20.  He is here on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica because he loves #surfing and beach life.  He goes back and forth between here and the US – mostly Chicago and South Padre Island, Texas.  He was fascinated by the concept of being a #parttimeexpat, I think probably because he is one, and just realized it as we were speaking.

We started up a casual conversation – he at the table next to me.  We covered the usual things like:

Where are you from?

How long have you been here?

Why are you here?

Why did you choose Jaco?

Then the conversation became a little more personal.  He began to ask about my wife and me and our family (my wife was also at the table, but talking to a woman at another table!).  I showed him a photo of our five grandchildren, and he was fascinated that we have three adopted from the Congo, as well as two biological grandchildren.  He said to me, “Just looking at your family brings tears to my eyes.”

He asked about our work.  We shared that Brenda is a writer who is #location-independent (she was joining the conversation off and on).  When I mentioned that I worked for a humanitarian organization, he perked up.  “That is so cool,” he commented.

Josh tends to think before he speaks.  And, after a brief moment of reflection, he said, “You guys are like the most fun grandparents ever,” accompanied by a big smile.

I smiled back.  That was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

We continued to talk about his plans.  He believes that the beach community offers him many opportunities.  He loves to paint waves.  He wants to do ceramics. He sees all kinds of possibilities for his art work. He has a great respect for the community and the people in it.  I did not hear one disparaging word about anyone or anything during our conversation.  He was so respectful and eager to learn.

He wants to continue to enjoy this dual life – living in two places, roots in both, friends in both, purpose in both.  He is a young man who is in the process of setting goals and deciding upon life direction.  I feel so privileged to have crossed paths with him in his process.

He is presently doing some exterior painting at a hostel in exchange for a free room.  He’s not afraid to work, but like all of us, he wants his work to have meaning and purpose.  So, he is constantly thinking, considering possibilities, and looking at the horizon with hope.  He is carving out his life on his own terms, and we could all learn a bit from Josh in that regard.

I see good things in the future for Josh.  In fact, I see a lot in Josh that is good for all of us to emulate. He asks good questions.  He ponders with intention.  He corrects his path when he veers off course.  (He was very transparent about his mistakes.).  He has a heart that sees the good and is quick to build up others.

Somewhere in Chicago, there must be some parents who are very proud of Josh and miss him terribly.

I was so encouraged by my chat with Josh.  He reminded me that you can be a part-time expat at any age.  You can enjoy two cultures and two countries (or more) at any stage of life if you put your mind to it.  And he reminded me to be an encourager to those who dream, of those who look beyond the present to an adventurous future in a thousand places and in a thousands ways.

You go, Josh!  I hope our paths cross again.  I will always be grateful for our encounter at Panaderia Artesanal.

You inspire me.


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