MEJO 121 – Digital Story

Meet Caitlin Blattner

Caitlin Blattner is a first-year student at UNC-Chapel Hill and is double majoring in Exercise and sports science and biology. She is originally from Wisconsin, but moved abroad to Malaysia for the last two years of high school.

She graduated high school at the International School of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with an IB diploma. UNC has always been her dream school, and so far, it’s lived up to her expectations.

Caitlin’s Favorites
  • Food: anything Asian!
  • Animal: Elephants
  • Color: Carolina Blue
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Activity: lifting
Fun Facts
  • I have a bar tending license!
  • I’ve seen Komodo dragons.
  • I was vegan for 2 years.

“At one point, I thought I’d never be happy. Now, when I look back at my experience, I realize it was probably the happiest I’d ever been.”

Caitlin Blattner

Why this story?

Like Caitlin, I was also an ex-pat. I’ve lived abroad for the last 15 years of my life, in five different countries. Although the experience is unmatched, there are a lot of hardships that come with it, and they are often masked by all the positives. Despite being such an incredible experience, it’s a difficult one, and sometimes the difficulties aren’t spoken about enough. Through Caitlin’s story, we are exposed to both the good and the bad of moving abroad and having such a big change in ones life. This story ties into a theme of change, which a lot of students can probably relate with.

A Home Away from Home – Caitlin’s Story

This short story gives viewers and insight into Caitlin’s life as she was moving from Wisconsin, USA, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She talks about the difficulties she faced, from the minute she found out she was moving, to the very end of her life abroad. It wasn’t easy for her, perhaps it was one of the most challenging things she’s ever had to do, but she eventually overcame it. We learn about how she navigated the hard parts about being an expat, and how it all came together to become an experience she would never change for the world.

” I wanted to tell my story because I think people only saw the happy parts, but it was really hard for a really long time.”

– Caitlin Blattner

Living abroad is hard, not just at the start, but throughout your whole experience. Everyday come’s with new challenges that you couldn’t possibly predict, so it’s important to have ways to navigate them. Here are some tips from the experts, that myself and Caitlin agree are very important.

1. It’s important to emerge yourself in the culture and learn about it. You will feel more at home by doing so.

2. Don’t be scared to jump on new opportunities and adventures. By saying yes to everything you meet new people and do new things.

3. There will be a lot of “news” and “firsts,” be open-minded to them.

4. Finding a routine will help you feel more settled and on track. With so much going on, it’s important to have structure in your life.

5. Your family is going through the same thing, they understand how you’re feeling and can help you navigate it.

6. Stay connected with your people back home, it’s crucial to have their support.

“I had to learn how to say yes more often, if I hadn’t, I would have missed out on a lot of cool experiences.”

– Caitlin Blattner

A Q&A with Caitlin about life abroad and life now!

What was your favorite part of living as an expat?

I would say my favorite part of being an expat was the community I was part of. The expat community is really special because it’s filled with people from all over the world with such different experiences. It’s really cool to be surrounded by such interesting people with really cool stories.

What was the biggest thing that helped you adjust?

Being open minded and saying yes to everything. I’m an introvert so it was really hard, but that’s how I met all my friends and found the things I enjoyed doing.

If you could do it again, would you?

I would 100% do it again. I think once you’ve done it one time, it gets a little bit easier. It was such a special experience, and I would love to live in another country a couple more times, maybe somewhere in Africa.

How does your experience help you today?

I think it made me a lot better socially and in dealing with change, so when I came to college, it wasn’t that big of a shock. I had already been through a similar experience, so it was an easier transition.


Smith, John. “Pros and Cons of Living Overseas as Expats.” Go Expat, 10 Jan. 2022,

Jones, Samantha. “How to Adjust to a Foreign Culture.” Military One Source, 15 July 2019,,

Jessica. “The Truth About Expat Life.” Worldpackers, 28 Feb. 2022,