A Day in the Life of A Bilingual Family When the Parents Aren’t Bilingual

A Day in the Life of A Bilingual Family When the Parents Aren’t Bilingual

  A lot of emotions swirl around every day as a parent, but when your children are bilingual and the parents are monolingual, there tends to be a wider range of emotions related to language on a daily basis. From navigating disagreements between my kids and their friends to ordering food for all of us at a local restaurant to speaking with the teachers at drop-off and pick-ups, I'm always met with this clash of emotions due to my spotty comprehension of the local language. "If only you learned more!" I scold myself. Well, if it were that easy, it would be easy, but it's not. On a daily basis, I will feel all of these emotions within seconds or minutes of one another. Feeling embarrassed, guilty, defiant, and proud all within a short span of time can have any parent who is balanced on the verge of losing it feel completely overwhelmed.   Frustration via GIPHY When you can't understand what your child's friend is saying, and you don't know why...
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Can expat spouses ever be equal?

Can expat spouses ever be equal?

In case you missed it on Facebook, here is my discussion about expat partner career, how we define equality in partnerships, and why communication is vital.   Link to Alix Carnot's data on expat spouses from her 2016 survey. Join the closed Tandem Nomads group if you are an expat spouse who can totally relate to this issue. Join the I am a Triangle Facebook group if you are looking for support during expatriation, repatriation, or anything in between....
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The Gift of the Aha Moment

The Gift of the Aha Moment

The light bulb flicks on and all of a sudden, the hair raises on the back of your neck and goosebumps cover your arms. The aha moment. The sudden crash of insight as you realize that your perspective has been too narrow even though you thought it was broad. For me, it was a feeling of slipping into someone else's shoes for a moment and feeling the discomfort, the pain, and the struggle that they have carried for so long. I gladly change back into my own shoes with the realization that my issues no longer felt quite so heavy as they did before. Families in Global Transition The Families in Global Transition Conference has been called "a reunion of strangers" because of the warmth that the organizers and long-time attendees bring with them. Whether it's your first or fifteenth meeting, everyone is welcomed with a smile and open arms. Nobody asks, "Where are you from?" because it's the question every attendee dreads the most. Instead, introductions cut...
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Expat Entrepreneurs: Do they have the answers?

Expat Entrepreneurs: Do they have the answers?

  Motherhood didn't kill my career—moving abroad did. And by "killing my career" I mean that moving abroad completely changed how I needed to view my employment opportunities. It forced me embrace a field that used to terrify me—entrepreneurship. I never thought I'd be an entrepreneur. Not in a million years. Entrepreneurism was too risky, too uncertain, and too extroverted for my inner nerdy introvert to ever consider as a possible career choice. Besides, I'm pretty skilled at learning languages and motivated to integrate into local society. Finding a traditional local job will be a snap, right? Not quite...   I don't have the "risk-taking gene" or the "wanderlust gene" gene, I have the my-brain-needs-to-be-engaged-to-be-happy gene and when landing a job in my field ended up being much more difficult than I had imagined, entrepreneurship was my best option. If you don't like the term entrepreneur, embrace the term, "digital nomad." It's so much sexier and sounds like we are very 21st century, no? But why is everyone pushing...
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When The Exciting Life Feels Normal

When The Exciting Life Feels Normal

  When we first moved to Sweden (five years ago, ahh!), the newness of everything was overwhelming. Every day we jumped into the unknown with glee. It was thrilling to have a clean slate. We could be whoever we wanted to be in this new place. I spent the first few weeks converting everything into measurements that I could understand and then again into USD to get a sense of the cost. Everything felt expensive (it was). But it was okay because this was all new and exciting. Snow on April 1? Not depressing. Let's play! Get incredibly lost while trying to find a particular restaurant only to discover that they are closed on Sundays? It's alright. We'll get pizza from around the corner. Spend hours in line to get a national ID card, fill out forms, and hope that you've done everything correctly in a language you don't understand? Kind of scary, yes, but we're hanging in there. Everything we did felt like a strange but wonderful adventure....
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Guiding the Newbies

Guiding the Newbies

Newbies We've all been newbies at one point or another—whether it was in high school, college, or that first year living abroad. One thing is constant—newbies generally have no idea what they are doing. The days can be long and frustrating when mistakes start to build on one another. All of a sudden, one more thing becomes one too many and that filmmjölk which you thought was creamer but turned out to be sour milk (why would anyone sell me sour milk?!) really ruins your morning coffee and you have a mini-nervous breakdown in your three square meter kitchen. But making all of those mistakes must count for something and now you oldies (experienced expats/foreigners/migrants) can pass on your wisdom to new people moving into your country. The Newbie Guide To Sweden provides that previously word-of-mouth service to newbies via their website with lots of tips and tricks to navigating life in Sweden as a foreigner. Their blog is full of been-there-and-done-that stories to help guide the newbies and I...
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Is It Time For This Mother In France To Rentrer?

Is It Time For This Mother In France To Rentrer?

Five years ago, my husband and I packed up our Manhattan apartment and moved across the ocean to France. Our plan was to stay for two to three years and then hightail it back to the U.S. to start a family. There was no way I was going to have a baby in a foreign country! Except that I did. And we stayed. Despite my initial reticence—and bolstered by the experiences described in Bringing Up Bébé—I loved being pregnant in France. I have zero regrets, even though I only understood 60% of any doctor’s appointment throughout my pregnancy. During delivery, my husband stood by my shoulder translating, “Breathe…push…push again…okay, I’m not sure what the OB is saying but maybe push again?...Oh wait, no, don’t push! DON’T PUSH!!” Even though we had lived in France for a few years, we had difficulty making close friends. When my son was born, I realized that we couldn’t continue to operate in isolation. I needed a village....
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Juggling Expectations Of Loved Ones At Home With Responsibilities Abroad

Juggling Expectations Of Loved Ones At Home With Responsibilities Abroad

This is the fifth post in the Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad series and deals with juggling family expectations and life abroad. So far in this series, we have discussed moving abroad with children, balancing careers and family,  dealing with the loss of loved ones while living abroad, and getting everyone on board before you uproot.   Mansi: Moving abroad, leaving behind things that you are comfortable and familiar with, is always tough. As if juggling your life wasn’t hard enough by itself, you must also now worry about maintaining all your relationships back home while forging new ones simultaneously. What do you do then? If you’re anything like me, you’ll have tons of friends, but may not always be as good at keeping in touch with them as you’d like to be. Especially for the strugglers out there, the first thing that I have personally found helpful is to do some mental weeding. It does sound harsh, but the unfortunate...
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The Ultimate Free Babysitting Idea For Expats

The Ultimate Free Babysitting Idea For Expats

  Do you remember what a date felt like? The dark night, loud music, dress-up clothes, and slightly overpriced food that tastes so good because someone else made it and has to clean the dishes. Or maybe it's a movie that isn't G or PG-rated or a concert of your favorite band because their music makes you feel alive. Has it been months? Years? How long has it been since your last night out with your partner? My parent friends and I were lamenting the lack of good babysitting services in our town and weeping at the exorbitant costs for someone to watch TV for a few hours and make sure the house doesn't burn down. What we wouldn't give for a few stolen hours away. We weren't asking for much. Then it hit me. This idea will work for anyone who doesn't have free babysitters family around to watch their kids. The only thing it'll cost you is time.   However, like any delicious cake, you're...
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Another Thanksgiving Holiday Abroad

Another Thanksgiving Holiday Abroad

As I hugged our friends goodbye at our front door, I heard, "Thank you so much," and, "This was wonderful," from every person as they bundled up into their jackets and slid their winter boots back onto their socked feet. Ending the night with these firm, warm, cheek-to-cheek embraces with friends new and old couldn't be a more fitting way to end the night. During each Thanksgiving we have celebrated abroad, there has been a brief respite in the chaotic day. A moment when I am quiet and I look around the room at the group of people who willingly cram into our tiny space because we asked them to share our tradition. I pause and listen. Conversations blend and weave with one another and the language shifts between English and Swedish depending on who is joining or leaving the conversation. In that brief pause of time, I am so happy and proud to continue the Thanksgiving tradition in our adopted...
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