What’s Going on Around Here? Big Changes Coming to Joy and Journey

Hi! Maybe you’re new here, maybe you’ve been here a while… maybe you’ve been here since the beginning.

I appreciate you!

Joy and Journey started in its first iteration four years ago as a website called My Quarter Life Epiphany, where I chronicled my experience moving, living, working, and traveling abroad with the hope of inspiring more of my peers to do the same. I traveled to a new city at least once a month, traveled to new parts of the city every weekend, and spent every spare baht and moment either traveling or planning future travel.

When I started traveling
BLURRY but memorable, at the airport to go on the trip that would change my life forever: I never came home.

The website slowly shifted from a blog journal to become a launch pad for freelance writing and consulting projects. The name changed to “Joy and Journey” to reflect not only my advancing age (I’m far past my “quarter-life” now!), but also representing the two broad areas of my life that overlap in so many ways.

I see my life as a balance and overlap and meshing of these two: joy (the pursuit of happiness, the cultivation of mindfulness, appreciation of the little things in life) and journey (struggle, learning, process, and most importantly TRAVEL).

While I’m still happy with the “brand” Joy and Journey, I’m no longer as single-mindedly travel-obsessed.

current craze: spending more time in my adopted home, and less time on the road

I’m taking fewer trips. I’m not visiting 10+ new countries a year (this year, it’s been only one: Nicaragua). My “journey” these days is more of inward exploration, and local experiences. I’m more invested and interested in my community, in friendships, and in cultivating connections, here in my adopted home of Puerto Vallarta.

Through 6 years of living abroad and countless conversations with friends and acquaintances (and an acknowledgment of my own personal struggles), I’ve realized that one of the hardest things about being a woman and living outside of your “home” country is the lack of community.

Loneliness is present in so many ways: the disconnect that exists between the life you’re creating now in this new place and the life (and friends who don’t always understand you anymore) you had thousands of miles away from your current location; the time between your arrival and that first real friendship; not knowing where to find that makeup remover you like and having no one to ask.

Isabela Island of the Galapagos Islands
that lonely feeling is all too real

There are many organizations that connect women “IRL”, including abroad.

There are a few online, as well, but I know personally I haven’t really felt connected to any of them.

The websites that do exist paint women living abroad with a pretty stereotypical brush, as if we all fit the “expat wife” cliche (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) but there are an infinite number of circumstances that inspire/cause/force/encourage an unrepresented, diverse range of women and circumstances to create their lives abroad.

I want Joy and Journey to be a place where any woman living abroad – not just those with live-in maids fueling their mimosa and mahjong tournaments – can find community. Whether you’re in Bangkok or Baku or Brasilia or Belding or Baghdad or Barcelona, for love or money or work or a new experience or school or solitude: you’re not alone. 

You might not know it yet, but you’ve got a community of thousands waiting in the sidelines to support you. Joy and Journey will make it easier to connect with them.

Girl's getaway to Merida
visiting Merida with old and new friends from around the world

What you’ll start finding here at the new Joy and Journey:

  • Perspectives from women who live outside what they define as their home or birth country: this includes people who self-define as expats, immigrants, foreign workers, and deportees.
  • Helpful resources on topics like loneliness and making friends abroad, finding a job and going through the visa process, dealing with illness and finding a doctor (and navigating medical insurance), not loving the country you’re in, dating, and so much more.
  • Honest, vulnerable essays about the hard parts of being away from your home country.
  • Support from a community that “gets” you.
  • Occasional travel guides, because one of the best parts of being abroad is having a whole new country to explore “domestically”, especially guides to visiting major cultural events and celebrations (like Dia de los Muertos, Carnaval, etc) in a culturally-sensitive and incredibly fun way.

Eating in Merida
Sam and I now live thousands of miles apart, but we first met in Puebla and stay connected

I’ve also created a Joy and Journey community Instagram and Facebook group, for women abroad to connect and uplift one another throughout various social media platforms.

I will start rolling out these changes little by little (so I’m sorry if the website is a bit Frankensteinian in the meantime!), with a goal of being totally finished by January 1.

This is a work in progress, so please bear with me and send all of your suggestions and advice and criticism here: I want to hear it because I want to make this the best platform for you!

If you’ve read this announcement and are excited, YAY!

Salar de Uyuni Me

If you’ve read this announcement and are pissed off or confused, and you’re not sure if you should return to Joy and Journey, please read on…

If you’re a visitor to Joy and Journey but you’re NOT abroad:

If you’ve ever considered studying, working, living, or retiring abroad: you’ll find these new resources, essays, and posts extremely relevant.

If you don’t ever want to live abroad but you enjoy traveling: you’ll be able to find content relevant to the places you plan to visit, giving you a more nuanced perspective for your next trip.

If you hate traveling: I’m not sure what you were doing here in the first place haha

If you’re a visitor to Joy and Journey and you’re NOT a woman:

I bet you probably know some women. Even more than that, women’s experiences are human experiences, and while living abroad as a woman does have some challenges specific to women, loneliness, visa headaches, and job searching are not gendered experiences. You are still very welcome here!

If you have an idea and would like to contribute an essay, or you’re a woman who lives abroad who would like to complete an interview questionnaire for feature on the website, or you have some other ideas, or you’d just like to chat, please email me.

Pin it for Later: What’s New at Joy and Journey, Creating a Community for Women Living Abroad

Joy and Journey Community for Women Living Abroad


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook



  1. November 5, 2018 / 9:49 pm

    I just found your blog, but I’m super excited to start following! These sound like some really interesting future posts! I studied abroad in Mexico this spring for four months in Qro, and it’s such a beautiful country.

    • Steph
      November 6, 2018 / 2:06 pm

      Hi Emily!

      Thanks so much for checking out the blog! I love that you studied abroad in Qro – that is SO cool! What made you choose that location and what did you think of it?

      (Confession: My biggest regret in life is not studying abroad during college)

  2. Karen
    December 1, 2018 / 6:38 pm

    I just found your blog and this idea is very interesting! I’m an expat in Chile and there are just so many different aspects to living abroad. I hope to see this grow and I’ll be following!

  3. Anne
    December 12, 2018 / 1:02 pm

    A new friend pointed me to your blog. I’m an expat who recently moved to San Miguel de Allende with my husband. We quit our jobs, sold our house and cars, and gave away most of our belongings and moved here to enjoy a lower stress life style. Your recent blog about loneliness and making new friends really resonated with me. I’ve been really surprised by the amount of homesickness I’ve had with the move. It’s been a shock to my system. It’s getting better each day as my new surroundings feel more and more like home, but in all the reading I did before we moved I didn’t come across anything that talked about that aspect of moving abroad. I look forward to reading more from you…especially, how you like a PV. We travel there frequently and love it!

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