Being an introvert abroad

Posted on 28. Jun, 2010 by in Blog, Expat Life

You may remember that last year I was wondering about expatriation and introversion.

This article from the excellent Matador Network touches on the same subject. Be sure to read the comments, as they add a lot to the discussion.

I find that Vancouver has a lot to offer to both extroverts and introverts.

The laid-back atmosphere and the huge numbers of fellow foreigners should give the outgoing folks plenty of opportunities to strike random conversations with strangers.

And what’s not to like about a city where even cab and bus drivers will go out of their way to be helpful and answer your questions?

But Vancouverites can be reserved, too. People generally mind their own business. They don’t pry and they don’t stare at passersby.


For a city its size, Vancouver strikes me as a very gentle kind of place. The pace is unhurried, and there’s enough room for everyone to be who they are and do their own thing.

And then of course there’s the serene, majestic beauty of the landscape, which to me is like instant meditation.

I can’t think of a better place to get lost in your own thoughts, sitting on a log on the beach with a good book, or journalling about your day by the bamboo grove in Dr. Sun Yat-sen Park.


PS: Falling squarely in the middle of the extrovert/introvert spectrum myself, I had never realized how many introverts felt pressured to become more extroverted. Is that something you’ve ever experienced personally? How do you cope with that kind of social pressure?

Image: Tofino, author’s own picture


  1. I once took a psychology course which addressed this issue. Each culture has a different orientation with respect to both age vs. youth, and introvert vs. extrovert.

    For example, the United States is basically a youth-oriented, extroverted culture. Being an introvert, yes, I always felt more pressured to “act” extroverted. I am able to do this for a few hours of teaching, or at a party. But then I need some alone time to recuperate!! True extroverts don’t seem to need to recuperate in the same way.

    Now I live in Morocco. I’ve found Morocco to be an age-oriented, introverted culture. Of course there are extroverts, but as an older introvert, I actually feel far more comfortable here.

    This is a very interesting question you’ve raised here.

    Comment by Mary Mimouna — June 30, 2010 @ 1:52 am

  2. Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by!

    That’s a very interesting comment about Morocco. I guess that superficially – or rather, stereotypically – Mediterranean cultures appear to be all about extroversion (hand gestures, loud conversations, little personal space, etc).

    Yet it is quite true that these cultures have a healthy respect for age, experience and wisdom. Their social norms also tend to discourage oversharing of personal information.

    I know that people who relocate to my hometown in the South of France are often surprised to find the locals more introverted than their Northern counterparts.

    As to feeling pressured to act more extroverted… yikes! I can’t imagine how uncomfortable and exhausting that must be – very glad to hear that Morocco suits you better in that respect.

    Comment by Emmanuelle Archer — July 1, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

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