Do you ever wonder what life is like in another country?  What about living in a new country every 2-3 years?

Do you thrive off adventure and new cultural experiences?

Are you an expat yourself or a trailing spouse and want to find your community?


Welcome to the Smalls Abroad, an expat and travel blog created by me, Lillian Small.  It’s a place where I explore all these questions and more.  Through the triumphs and failures and all the adventures in between, we share our favourite stories, experiences, insights and photographs while moving countries every few years.

This blog is for people who love adventure and travel.  Or for those who love the idea of it and want to live vicariously from the comfort of home.  It is for people who are curious about the expat life, or who are expats themselves, and want to see how others do it.

Follow along as we navigate, survive and thrive in this global nomad lifestyle.


Who is Lillian?

I was born in Toronto, Canada to Portuguese immigrant parents.  As a child, I spent almost every summer vacation in Portugal.  That’s where I learned the language and my family’s culture.

I went to university to study Engineering.  That’s where I met David and where I learned to think critically and analyze everything.

I moved to Sydney, Australia for a study abroad semester.  That’s where I first learned to live independently in a foreign country and where I learned to love travel.

I moved to Edmonton, Alberta for work.  That’s where I fell in love with Crossfit and found a community that motivated and inspired me.

I moved to Paris, France.  That’s where I became a trailing spouse, blogger and fitness coach.   That’s where I learned to speak French, live out of my comfort zone and cultivated my culinary skills.

I moved to Aberdeen, Scotland.  That’s where I’m learning to find the beauty in a city and a country I had no desire to move to.

That’s where I am now…after living in 5 different cities, traveled to 38 countries and counting, I’m blogging, sharing and inspiring… Waiting until we get the next opportunity to move again.


I am an engineer at heart. I still analyze, plan, experiment, and document.  Except now, instead of engineering reports, I’m using this blog.

I am a coach at heart.  I love to share my knowledge.  To inspire and motivate others.  Helping people through my own experiences and insights.

I am an expat at heart.  I can’t imagine living in just one place for very long.

Who is David?

He is a Third Culture Kid who lived in US, Holland, Oman, Syria, and the Philippines before moving back to Canada for school.

He’s the one that I spent long nights with studying Reaction Kinetics and solving Process Design problems.

He’s the one that inspired me to go Australia and then take trips with him to Europe, South America, and Nicaragua.

He’s the one I married, bought a house and adopted a cat with.

He’s the one that brought us on this international journey.

He’s also the one that proofreads the blog and creates the amazing videos of our life and travels together.

My personal manifesto:

  • Don’t be afraid of change.  Let it excite you.
  • Challenges are the way we grow and learn more about ourselves.
  • Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way.  When in doubt, say ‘yes!’
  • Be Authentic,  Thoughtful, Open-minded and Positive.
  • Strive to be Helpful, Enthusiastic and Fearless.
  • Try new things and dive into new experiences.  That’s the spice of life.
  • Live life to the fullest, the best way you can.
  • Use your knowledge and personal connections to help others.


To know more about us:


To know more about our life in Paris:



To know more about our travels:

We’ll keep moving and traveling.  We’ll keep learning.  We’ll keep growing.  We’ll keep sharing.

Follow along to see where we go next.

  • Jess

    Hi Lillyan!
    I’m a twenty-year-old college student from the US studying abroad this summer in Paris, and when I was trying to find some sort of community for the Whole30 in Paris on Google, I stumbled upon your blog and I’ve been loving it! I’ve loved your spirits, your sense of humor, and especially your grace in writing (and living!). Would you like to grab a cup of coffee sometimes? I’ve found it difficult to find and connect with other English-speaking expats in this lovely city, and would love to have your advice on Whole30 in Paris and everything about la ville d’amour 🙂

    Warm regards,

    • Hi Jess! Thanks for the nice comments and for reading. I totally understand what it’s like trying to connect with other English expats and have a few resources for you. I’ll connect with you via email okay? Welcome to Paris!

  • Amy

    Hi Lillian,
    My name is Amy, originally from Sydney Australia, I’m now a trailing spouse (newly married) and just stepped into the wild world of my early 30’s. My husband and I are in Paris for his work, so I’m a lady of leisure too! I got here two weeks ago, and am honestly still adjusting. I am keeping a blog on Facebook, and a video diary to document our short stay, but I love reading your blog, you seem to have a fearless attitude when it comes to living here, (I’m a bit of an introvert myself, and way out of my comfort zone), so I was wondering if you would be up for grabbing a coffee or a cocktail at some stage? Like Jess I have found it difficult to meet English speaking expats in the City of Lights.

    • Hi Amy! Thanks for visiting the blog and for introducing yourself. Welcome to Paris! I’d love to connect in person and help you along with the transition. I love Sydney! I spent 6 months there on uni exchange – best time ever. I’ll get in touch with you via Facebook Message where we can chat more. Cheers!

      • Amy

        No problem Lillian, thank you for replying.
        Sante` Thank you, that would be wonderful. Haha 🙂 Good, I’m glad you liked it there. I’m looking forward to going home, but want to enjoy my time here too.
        That would be great 🙂

  • Do you have work papers for France? I know a wonderful private university where they are always looking for native English speakers to tutor their students. Easiest job ever, and really fun! Let me know! I’ll be in Paris (tutoring) in early May and June. Would be great to meet up somewhere! (I prefer Angelina’s on Rue de Rivoli.) 😀

    • Yep I have work papers. Thanks for the tip. I’d look into the the tutoring (why not give it a shot!) Lets definitely connect when you’re here in May. I hope to still be here myself… my husband’s company is looking to move us soon… just don’t know when or where to!

      • It’s the Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Avancees in Ivry-sur-Seine. I’ll email you again when I get closer to my trip! Hopefully, your husband’s job will keep you in Paris a little bit longer!

  • Phoebe Thomas

    I spent my 30s in Paris and surrounding area and moved to the Cote d’Azur for my 40s! Back then (I sound ancient) there was no FB, no blogging, no meet up groups etc and it was very hard to meet people, luckily I had a core group of friends from elsewhere who were all in Paris else I would have gone crazy. I spent a lot of time figuring out what I wanted to do (and what I didn’t!), did several unsatisfying jobs, some satisfying voluntary work and had a couple of babies….while learning to love Paris with a passion that hasn’t died. I’m so glad you’ve found my #AllAboutFrance linky and hope to get to know you better over the coming months.

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  • Kelly

    Spending every summer in Portugal growing up sounds amazing. We spent this last summer in Lisbon and absolutely loved it! I wish I had more of a knack for languages. It’s such a better experience when you can communicate with everyone around you. How’s the Scottish accent coming?! 🙂