PAMELA DRUCKERMAN

37, author of Lust in Translation, Paris

HOMETOWN: New York City

WHY I WANTED TO LIVE ABROAD: Because the man of my dreams (now my husband) turned out to be an Englishman who lived in Paris. I met him on a business trip and moved here in 2004-I knew no French and no Parisians, and I was a vegetarian, but I came anyway. Ominously, it was around the same time that Carrie from Sex and the City moved to Paris, too, with disastrous results.

WHAT I MISS ABOUT HOME: Wearing workout clothes in public; not being the fattest person in the café; Aveda conditioner; corn tortillas; smiling at strangers without having them think I'm insane.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT LIVING HERE:
Foie gras (nope, not a vegetarian anymore); the café on my corner that functions as my office and makes me feel like I'm in a Godard film every morning; the bad bakery across the street (because it's still better than most "good" ones in the U.S.); heated public pools in every neighborhood; hearing my daughter say, "Ooh la la."

HOW THE EXPERIENCE HAS CHANGED ME:
I now live entirely without high-fructose corn syrup; I no longer assume that older women lose their sex appeal; I'm not sure where home is anymore.

BIGGEST SURPRISE:
Nobody warned me that "springtime in Paris" is so celebrated because the five-month stretch from November to March is overcast and freezing.

CRAZY ADVENTURE:
Having a baby in a French hospital. I kept shouting "painkillers" in English because I couldn't think of how to say it in French! But I got to stay in the hospital for a week, which is standard-and the in-room wine list was better than in most New York restaurants.

GREATEST CHALLENGE:
Suffering through the micro-sneer that crosses even a nice Parisian's face when I forget to use the subjunctive.

HOW YOU CAN GET HERE:
Got parents or grandparents who were born in an EU country? You might be able to score an EU passport, which makes getting a job easier (check with the country's consulate to see if you qualify). You could also come visit for three months and poke around for jobs, or look into opportunities at
americansinfrance.net
or
expatica.com.

TARA SUILEN DUFFY

35, nonprofit worker, Beijing

HOMETOWN: Providence, RI

WHY I WANTED TO LIVE ABROAD:
At 19, I left the comforts of a small liberal-arts college to study Chinese for a year in Beijing, because I'm half-Chinese myself. It was three years after the Tiananmen Square uprising, and there was still a sense of apprehension as China opened up to the world economically and socially. The city fascinated me, and I knew I'd come back. Sure enough, in 2004, I transferred with CNN; later, I began working as a consultant to The Asia Foundation, focusing on environmental and disaster-preparedness programs.

WHAT I MISS ABOUT HOME:
My family, blue skies-and supermarkets with organic-food options galore.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT LIVING HERE:
The old Beijingers who take life at their own pace, getting up early to carry their pet birds-in portable wooden cages-to the park for some air.

HOW THE EXPERIENCE HAS CHANGED ME:
Living in a developing country with 1.3 billion people makes me realize what a privileged life I've had so far.

BIGGEST SURPRISE:
Despite reading about China's rapid economic growth, watching skyscrapers get built in just a matter of months never ceases to amaze me!

CRAZY ADVENTURE:
After I moved into a small courtyard house in one of the old alleys, or hutongs, a scratching sound kept waking me up at night. I discovered that a ferret had moved into the roof. When I mentioned it to my cleaning lady, she explained that Beijingers believe ferrets are spirits and thus cannot be killed. "You do yoga, so you must be a good person, and I think you can understand this," she said.

HOW YOU CAN GET HERE:
Start learning Chinese-you'll need it. You can come on a student or tourist visa, but you'll need a work visa to stay long term. Check out
beijing.asiaxpat.com
or
beijing.alloexpat.com
for job listings and tips.

TARA TODRAS-WHITEHILL

30, photographer, Cairo, Egypt

HOMETOWN: New York City

WHY I WANTED TO LIVE ABROAD:
To focus on photojournalism and cover women's issues around the world. I had a friend in Beirut, so I first moved there, then came to Cairo soon after. Right now I'm in the process of moving to Jerusalem.

WHAT I MISS ABOUT HOME:
My parents . . . and the New York subway. I never appreciated its efficiency till I moved here.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT LIVING HERE:
The expats, who are incredibly warm and welcoming; the low cost of living; the absence of celebrity culture.

HOW THE EXPERIENCE HAS CHANGED ME:
Other than Philly, where I went to college, Cairo is the first place I've lived away from home for any extended period of time, and it has definitely made me more willing to try new things-I don't get so hung up on small details. Instead, I'm more inclined to jump in and see how things turn out.

BIGGEST SURPRISE:
How safe Cairo is. I can walk down the street at 4 in the morning with my cameras on my shoulders and not worry about someone trying to steal them. Recently, when someone actually did try to snatch a woman's purse, 10 men chased down the thief and beat him to a pulp.

CRAZY ADVENTURE:
Taxicabs. Every time you get in one, it's like taking your life in your hands. Stoplights are nonexistent. That's why the drivers say "Inshallah" (meaning "God willing") every time you tell them where you want to go.

MAJOR MISHAP:
I got too close to riot policemen in a small town during the parliamentary elections, and I was teargassed. I didn't realize how bad that could be-never again without a gas mask!

GREATEST CHALLENGE:
Taking pictures. Everybody is highly suspicious of what you're doing, and people are convinced that the photos will be used against them by the government in some way.

HOW YOU CAN GET HERE:
It's pretty simple to get a work visa for a freelance journalism gig like mine-you just need a news agency to say you're a correspondent. Or you could come as a teacher (see
teflcorp.com
), or find jobs at
jobsinegypt.com.

SALA ELISE PATTERSON

33, communications consultant, Tunis, Tunisia

HOMETOWN: Washington, DC

WHY I WANTED TO LIVE ABROAD:
I've lived all over the world, but this time I decided to move for a job with the African Development Bank, which works on social and economic advancement here. I provide communications support to the bank's Eastern African offices.

WHAT I MISS ABOUT HOME:
Family and friends. And also the relentless pursuit of innovation, the pushing of boundaries, the calling into question that I associate with Americans.

HOW THE EXPERIENCE HAS CHANGED ME:
Tunisia is a progressive Muslim society, but it still feels like the public domain is reserved first and foremost for men. I never realized how important it is to feel comfortable and welcome as a woman, wherever I go.

BIGGEST SURPRISE:
Not only in Tunisia, but everywhere I've been, I am always amazed by how much the rest of the world knows about the U.S. and how little, on average, we know about them.

CRAZY ADVENTURE:
Trying to get my personal effects out of customs. On one 95-degree day, after meeting with three different officials, my husband and I sat down with yet another one, who studied our four-page list of possessions and said, yawning, "Item one: plates. So, exactly what kind of plates?"

MAJOR MISHAP:
Going into a certain neighborhood café with my husband and discovering that the only women who do so are prostitutes.

GREATEST CHALLENGE:
If you'd ever heard Arabic spoken, you wouldn't have to ask.

HOW YOU CAN GET HERE:
Several international development organizations work in Tunisia, in addition to the African Development Bank (
afdb.org
). For listings on these types of jobs and others-from accounting to engineering-see
findajobinafrica.com. Or just visit: Americans can stay up to four months without a visa.

JULIE CHOI TREPKAU

35, yoga teacher, Hamburg, Germany

HOMETOWN: New York City

WHY I WANTED TO LIVE ABROAD:
I've had a subscription to National Geographic since I was 8, and I've always been fascinated by the worlds outside my neighborhood. My parents had moved to the U.S. from Korea when I was little, so I grew up with a unique perspective.

WHAT I MISS ABOUT HOME:
The open-ness; the cheerfulness; the diversity-and giant cavernous discount shops like Target and Costco. And of course the Dunkin' Donuts drive-through.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT LIVING HERE:
My German husband-I moved here with him. I also love the traditional Christmas market, real marzipan, and the tree-lined canals all over the city.

HOW THE EXPERIENCE HAS CHANGED ME:
I've lived around the world-from Hawaii to London to Hong Kong-and have traveled extensively; all of it has brought me to a deeper level of understanding people, of standing in someone else's shoes, of seeing things from another perspective. It has also given me the confidence to start up my own yoga school, called Breathe!

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT:
Ordering Chinese food from the local takeout. We're talking majorly tasteless fried lumps masquerading as dumplings.

GREATEST CHALLENGE:
Convincing Germans that I'm not the stereotypical fitness-obsessed, antismoking, overenthusiastic, obnoxious American.

HOW YOU CAN GET HERE:
Hamburg is Europe's second-largest port city, so there are lots of international companies here. Check out
eurojobs.com
for job listings or
german-way.com
for expat forums, where you can get advice from other Americans here. Residency and work visas are required. Or marry a Hamburger!

What Do You Think?