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  • Mckenzie Dow

Expat Playlist


This post is a part of the Expat series!

As an expat, one thing that's always here for me through the ups and downs of living in Dublin is music. I'm also a huge fan of sharing music that I love to others and letting others share music they love with me. So, I figured I would make an expat playlist! Some of these songs are bittersweet, others reflect the challenges of living abroad, and some shine through as happy songs that reflect the best things about moving to another country. Most of song that I already had in mind, while others came from reading other expat recommendations on the internet. I've posted the Spotify link below and I've written them out as well. Enjoy!


1. Missing You by All Time Low

This song is clearly about missing someone! It's about a friend reaching out to someone else during hard times and missing the old person that used be. I think this song belongs on this playlist because it's sweet, it's about having someone there for you, and about revealing your true self. It's about being kind to yourself. It's about being resilient. Being expat requires some serious resilience, self-love and an ability to jump right into your new culture, as challenging as it. So, this song fits nicely here.

2. Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver

There is just something so amazing and soothing about John Denver. This song is about a man leaving his love and how lonely that is. He's singing about how being away will make him miss his love. It's also a song about appreciation and how he realizes how amazing his love actually is. I think this song fits on this playlist because leaving your family and friends behind gives you loads of perspective on actually how special and important those people are to you. That missing them makes you realize how much you appreciate them.

3. Malibu by Miley Cyrus

THIS SONG. IT JUST GETS ME. Miley wrote this song about finding her happy place at her Malibu home and how her love brought her there. This song perfectly describes how incredible it feels to find that place that makes your heart feel whole, even if you didn't realise it wasn't whole before you found that place. This song perfectly captures how I feel about Dublin and the way that Nick is now woven into this city along with everything else it has to offer. I almost tear up every time I listen to it because I'm a major sap.

4. Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran

This brings up all the feels of the memories of home. Sometimes I just want to reminisce and sit in all the memories from home that have brought me joy and shaped who I am. Whenever I'm feeling particularly homesick I listen to this song and it brings me that bittersweet feeling that can fill my heart up with enough joy to get me through the day. We all have those sweet and silly memories from growing up and going through high school, and all those experiences shape who were are, thus getting us to where we are now.

5. Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum

This song gets me feeling good. It get's me pumped, as if I'm about to take on some big adventure. It's a great song to listen to as you explore your new home for the first time as it really makes you feel like you're doing something great. It's also just such a great song.

6. Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show

This song is a classic by now. It's perfect for an expat playlist because it's about a journey and also it's a brilliant song. It's about making your way to what's next, even if what's next isn't really anything big. Also, it's about getting to your love, which often times is why people move to another country!

7. Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root

Matilda anyone??? This song belongs on this playlist because it's about taking off to something new. Taking that risk, and just leaping into it. It's such a feel good song, as cheesy as it is!

8. Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

This song is almost an obvious one for this list. It's about love and how home is where ever your love. I imagine that for many expats, their journey of moving abroad started from falling in love, and this song really suits that kind of journey. For myself, I didn't move to Ireland because I fell in love, but I sure would be resistant to leaving the place because I'm in love with an Irishman. I get it completely!

9. Ooh La La by Faces

This is another one of those bittersweet songs. It brings back memories from when I was a kid, particularly this movie called Without a Paddle that my brother and I always used to watch. It belongs on this playlist because it's also about growing up, which being a expat will do to you. As you move away from everything you've ever known for the first time, you're forced to grow up and deal with the challenges you face on your on. The song is about how you have to learn how to face life's challenges on your one just like everyone else and that no one can do it for you. For an expat, this feeling of having to tackle the world on your own may be familiar.

10. Riptide by Vance Joy

This song is again about love and how finding someone special. I think it fits this playlist because it's quite the feel good song about embracing life. For the artist, it's a girl, but for an expat it could be about embracing the new place you landed yourself in. For me, I fell in love with Dublin and Ireland as a whole from the moment I landed here the first time, and this song brings up those memories and the feelings of just being so alive when I'm here.

11. Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra

This song is such a positive feel good song!! It belongs on this list because it can lift your mood from lonely and sad to peppy and positive in a moment. Music has a way of lifting spirits when we need it to and this song will do that for you on the days when you really need it.

12. Where Does the Good Go by Tegan and Sara

I think this song is about breaking up, and having to watch the person you were with be so sad and happy. The reason it's on this playlist is because it's relatable, and it totally reflects the FOMO or the conflicted feelings that expats may experience as they watch the lives of people who used to be in their lives go on back home. It's a hard to describe feeling but this song nails it. When you move away from home, you might find that friendships become distant as you change from your new experiences, and watching that play out can bring up that conflicting feeling in your gut, which is a challenge to sit with sometimes.

13. Paris Calling (Sweet Sensation) by Griffin House

This song is on here because it totally captures that wanderlust feeling and falling in love with a place. Often that wanderlust feeling is what drives us to move away from our home country, and this song really brings up that feeling as you listen to it. It makes wherever you are in your new home feel a little extra special.

14. Sloop John B by The Beach Boys

This song is about feeling down and just wanting to go home. The person in the song just wants to sail away. Every expat will go through this at some point. You'll have a moment of frustration, probably from something so dumb and all you'll want to do is just go home where it feels like everything was easier. Also, the Beach Boys are fab so.

15. Englishman in New York by Sting

It's literally about an expat in New York and goes through the tiny little things that are different and what it's like to just stroll through somewhere that's not where you're from. Sometimes being an expat can make you feel like you're an alien, and Sting literally writes this in the song. It's relatable.

16. America by Simon & Garfunkel

This is about a journey through America, and a very laid-back one at that. It really romanticizes America and how special it is. It makes me feel like my own little journey has some beauty in it as well. Whenever I miss home I give this one a listen and also Simon & Garfunkel are one of my favourites so something of theirs was bound to end up on this playlist. Speaking of which....

17. Homeward Bound by Simon & Garfunkel

This song gives me all the happy feels!! beautifully written and it perfectly captures that feeling you get while on the plane waiting to go back home and see your family and friends after being away for a long time. I always have it playing when I'm on my way back to the states. It just gets me so excited and it perfectly captures how wonderful it feels to go home, even if you love where you moved to.

18. The Weight of Lies by The Avett Brothers

This song is a very interesting one. It's about how you cannot hide your true self, no matter where you go or how you try to run away. For anyone considering moving to a different country, this song will really make you think about WHY you're taking off. Is it because you're not getting along with anyone anymore? Is it because you did something wrong and now you're running away from that? Is it because you've find yourself pushing everyone away? If that's the case, then don't move away to a new country because it won't solve any of those problems. My favourite line is "So when you run, make sure you run to something and not away from..."

19. All My Loving by The Beatles

It's about your partner being true to you even though you're apart. It's catchy and a classic, as most Beatles Songs are. It totally captures that gooey feeling you get when you're with your person, and how sweet it is to work your way through a long distance relationship. There are probably a lot of expats out there going through an LDR at the moment, so this song is definitely relevant.

20. Carolina On My Mind by James Taylor

This song is about your mind being somewhere else. There are definitely days when I'm in the office and I find that my mind has sailed back over the ocean to New Hampshire, and I certainly cannot be the only expat who has experience a wandering mind. It's also a soothing song and just makes a girl smiling about everything good back at home, but also in your new home.

21. I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers

This song is on here because it's about leaving for a new place, and slowly becoming a part of that place. The narrator starts by saying it doesn't pay to have one foot in one place and the other in the new place. This song I think is about an immigrant moving to a new place. It's important to include narrative around immigration because there are likely many expats out there who are expats as a result of having to move somewhere else in order to have a better life. Not all expats may have moved because they want to, rather they moved because they had to in order to provide their family and themselves with a better life.

22. In My Life by The Beatles

This song is about the passage of time across the moments in our lives. I think it's relevant to being an expat because it's about time passing, and how new people come and go. That's what being an expat is about. It's about looking on the past with love, but also embracing your future in this new place with love as well. I particularly relate to this the sentiment of this song as I truly do love my new country more, and I have to come to grips with that feeling and not taking is as meaning my old life in America was not good, it's just that Ireland is a better fit right now.

23. On the Road Again by Willie Nelson

This song is just amazing. I love Willie Nelson. It's about just getting on to what you love doing. For some expats, that could be traveling around, making music like Willie, writing, anything really! This song is just a positive one about doing what you love.

24. Angela by The Lumineers

This song is about a woman who could never be settled down for a long time, and how her life may have been in the mean time. She leaves her hometown with this urgency to leave, possibly because people weren't so nice. She's running away because of the possible internal torment she feels. Meanwhile, this lad is in love with Angela, yet she's still always leaving. Finally, she comes home, and the lad is so happy and he begs her not to go. This song has a special place in my heart for more than one reason. When it first was released, I felt that is had been written for me. I related to that relentless drive to just get away from everything and go, but also it dawned on me how that would be for the people back at home. I think this is something a lot of expats may relate to, so that's why it's on the list.

Anyways, I hope you all enjoy this playlist, especially you fellow expats out there!! Happy listening!



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 Lady Mac Lifestyle
mckenziedow@gmail.com 
 DUBLIN, IRELAND 
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