The Return of the Lost Wedding Dress

The Return of the Lost Wedding Dress

Five years ago, I discovered that my wedding dress, photo albums, and a few fragile items with sentimental value ended up in a dumpster somewhere in Atlanta, Georgia.It wasn't my choice to throw away my beloved sentimental items but that of our property management company. I discovered it long after it had happened, so there was nothing to do but accept what happened and move on.I tried to rationalize away my sadness and to make sense of the grief I was feeling over *things*. Afterall, nobody was sick, nobody had died, but I was still heartbroken over this loss. Sentimentality is expensiveWhen it comes to sentimentality, highly mobile people select their "must have" items very carefully. Each relocation costs money and each box packed represents only the items we "must have" or what we think we must have when we move to a new place.During every relocation, boxes are lost or damaged. Basements flood and houses catch on fire—my wedding dress...
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The Perfect Relocation in an Ideal World

The Perfect Relocation in an Ideal World

In an ideal world, there would be only perfect relocations. A world in which everything goes according to plan, nobody is running around at the last minute all sweaty with stress, and the children are well behaved on every flight and breeze through connecting airports. In this ideal world, here's what a perfect relocation might look like: In a perfect relocation, there is plenty of time to prepare, find renters/buyers for your current house, sell off unwanted possessions, and close your door one final time without a hint of sadness. In a perfect relocation, you have familiarized yourself with the local language and have language classes lined up to help ease your family into society upon arrival. In a perfect relocation, you get one last visit with all of your family members, and your friends throw you an amazing farewell party complete with meaningful gifts and inside jokes. In a perfect relocation, these same friends and family members promise to keep in touch and they do!...
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Wherever you go, there you are

Wherever you go, there you are

  "Money in the bank. Braces are money in the bank," my Nana told me at her kitchen table in upstate New York. I was 15 years old; my mouth was sore and full of twisted metal. I didn't feel like having a mouth full of braces was such a wise investment. Her words were of little comfort to my angsty teenage self. For six years, my brother and I would take the bus to our grandparents' house after school. We lived outside of the school district and we needed a place to do our homework (me) or watch TV (my brother) until one of our parents could pick us up. My Nana would come home and she'd start making dinner. I sat at her kitchen table in a high bar stool chair, finishing my homework and chatting about my day. These kitchen table conversations created an inner voice that spouts off two sentences of wisdom at a time. We all have voices...
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Moving Abroad With Children

Moving Abroad With Children

The fourth article in the Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad series between Gabrielle of the Expat Coffee Club and a few Knocked Up Abroad Again contributors tackles moving abroad and the emotional challenges associated with these large transitions. Gabrielle: When my parents told me that we were moving, I was devastated. Despite the fact that we were not leaving the country, this move seemed like the end of the world to me. I was leaving a school that I loved, great friends, and a fun neighborhood for the complete unknown. My friends and I promised to keep in touch and see each other often, but being dependent on our parents to drive us an hour one way just so that we could see each other, such a promise quickly fell through. Although it was not a new country, it sure felt like it. The people, the language, and the culture in Quebec were all so very different from what I had known. Furthermore,...
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Balancing Careers And Family Life As An Expat

Balancing Careers And Family Life As An Expat

This post is the second in the Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad series between the women of the Expat Coffee Club and Knocked Up Abroad Again. Click here to read the first set of questions and answers between the two groups of women.   Amanda: For the past three years, I have been working in the world of International Development. Since most of the work is contractual, I’ve also been doing the “long-distance thing” with my boyfriend in Canada during my last two contracts (five months in Ghana, and seven months in Bangladesh/Nepal). This time, my contract is for an entire year in Bolivia, so my boyfriend agreed to take a year off work (he’s a Chiropodist—a foot and ankle specialist) to come travel with me. We both agreed that it’s a good chance to explore the world, work on our Spanish, and live outside of Canada to learn about a new culture. I know it’s really difficult to find someone...
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Getting Everyone On Board When Uprooting Your Family

Getting Everyone On Board When Uprooting Your Family

This is the first in a series of Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad articles between the two groups of women where they share their questions, fears, and possible anxieties about some of the challenges of creating a family abroad. Great things happen when women come together. Great things, therefore, happen when women collaborate to learn from each others' experiences with motherhood, love, and loss. This series brings together women from Expat Coffee Club who are near or far away from having children with the contributors to the anthology, Knocked Up Abroad Again who became mothers while living in a foreign country. Erin: There's a strange transition time in between referring to the family you grew up in as your "family" and forging a new family of your own. My new family is small, my husband and I, which makes big decisions a bit easier. Only the two of us have to be on board, which made moving away easy...
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Top 3 Reminders When Relocating With A Family

Top 3 Reminders When Relocating With A Family

  There is a bold freedom when you move as a single person. The highway is open, and you are free to take any exit. Your destiny is unchartered, and the future is relatively carefree. In contrast, when you move your family, you need to be slightly more responsible. Those things that aren't priorities as a young single person are all of a sudden really important like researching daycares, schools, insurance, work visas, health care options, retirement plans—all of those issues become imminently important when coordinating a massive move as a parent. When we moved to Sweden, we fumbled around a bit and relied heavily on my husband's company to handle the logistics—that was a mistake. The woman organizing our relocation stopped answering our emails as soon as we set foot into the country. We were on our own and had not conducted any research prior to our rushed relocation—rookie mistake. Learning via trial by fire is never my preferred method, but it does burn certain...
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Book Review: The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide

Book Review: The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide

  The Expat Partner's Survival Guideby Clara Wiggins is nothing short of volume full of incredible resources, personal accounts, and tips from an expert expat and 70 contributors. Clara is a fourth generation expat and has lived in twelve countries on five continents. Her worldliness shows in her approach to this guide and anyone who is considering a life overseas should read this book first before making the leap. As I was reading it, I wish I had this guide before we moved to Sweden. It was one of those, "Man, why couldn't I have read this before we moved instead of after?" thoughts. It remains at the top of my recommended resources for anyone considering a move abroad or relocation. Clara's narrative style is like that of a good friend guiding you through one of the most difficult life-decisions you've ever made over a nice cup of coffee (or tea since she is British). She is calm, humorous, and keeps things in perspective. The world "trailing spouse"...
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Top 10 Takeaways from the Families in Global Transition Conference 2016, Netherlands

Top 10 Takeaways from the Families in Global Transition Conference 2016, Netherlands

The hunger pangs subside and the bleariness of the morning-after-a-long-travel-day fade into uncontrollable laughter as I listen to the hilariously honest opening keynote narrated by Christopher O'Shaughnessy. I'm sitting next to Jodie Hopkins, a woman I had only met two hours earlier but yet we instantly connected, and I keep glancing over at her as we laugh at the ridiculousness of this situational comedy. We've all been in that fish-out-of-water, cultural nakedness scenario that Chris is so fluently describing. "Expats arrive at their destinations culturally naked." [Tweet "Expats arrive at their destinations culturally naked. —Chris O'Shaughnessy"] Or in Chris' case, physically naked. The self-deprecating nature of the opening keynote grants us permission to humbly acknowledge that we've all experienced unbelievably embarrassing moments that we mortals would prefer to forget let alone share with 200 strangers through a microphone. However, as the laughs dissipate through the crowd, a more important topic is introduced—empathy—the theme of this conference. We have become a community of digital nomads and in the quest to build communities without geographical limitations,...
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