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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Parenting Abroad: Freedom To Discard Unwanted Holidays

Parenting Abroad: Freedom To Discard Unwanted Holidays

Most days, I feel all alone. Geographically isolated from all that is familiar and linguistically isolated from what I know. The foreign language around me is easily tuned out and processed as white noise. It's soothing and I am alone with my thoughts. Parenting in cultural isolation can provide a new type of freedom in many ways. I have gladly discarded holidays and traditions that I never enjoyed. Without the cultural pressure to honor them, they quickly disappear. Anything that I am not willing to import myself will not get passed down to my children. It requires a lot of work to celebrate a holiday that isn't observed locally. Sorry kids, but Valentine's Day isn't going to be that important for our family. You'll survive. Some traditions, only the ones I hold near and dear to my heart, are kept. Celebrating holidays abroad is a bit like moving abroad—you discover that not so many things are important and you only take the...
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How 9 Expat Moms Celebrate (or Avoid) Halloween Abroad

How 9 Expat Moms Celebrate (or Avoid) Halloween Abroad

BY JENNIFER MALIA Though widely known as an American tradition, Halloween has been adopted by other countries around the world. In many countries, trick-or-treating, costume parties, and spooky decorations have become popular ways of celebrating Halloween. I talked to expat moms around the globe and asked them what Halloween traditions they do (or don’t do) when living abroad. Their stories take place in countries as diverse as England, Sweden, the Netherlands, South Africa, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates. Whether you are an expat family that celebrates Halloween abroad, a family that travels for the holiday, or a family that celebrates Halloween in the US, their stories are sure to entertain you, and might even frighten you in a G-rated sort of way. Kristy Smith, The Midwestern Repatriate “I’m American, and my husband is British. We spent many years in the UK celebrating Halloween, which seems more like an addition to the local village harvest festivals than a separately adopted tradition. Some kids...
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To The Mom With The Bad Birth Experience

To The Mom With The Bad Birth Experience

BY THE KNOCKED UP ABROAD AGAIN CONTRIBUTORS To the mom with the bad birth experience, It doesn’t matter what happened. Whether you had an underlying condition or were treated badly by your doctor or midwife. Whether the baby wasn’t doing well or whether your providers caused you considerable unnecessary stress. Whether in other words it was caused by an inherent problem with your pregnancy or something external that was out of your control. Maybe, like us, you gave birth in a foreign country, not speaking the language and not familiar with the maternity system. Maybe giving birth traumatized you. Maybe the people you trusted most let you down. It doesn’t matter because all that matters is that you’re hurting. That’s why we wrote this post: we are here for you. We want to tell you that you are not alone. We know because we’ve been there. I think most of us had a traumatic birth experience—for a large variety of reasons. Olga, for example, felt...
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Autumn Crafts And Foods For Multicultural Kids

Autumn Crafts And Foods For Multicultural Kids

I have the honor of hosting the Multicultural Kids Carnival this month and the theme is Autumn Crafts and Foods. I am admittedly not skilled in arts and crafts but fortunately, the bloggers of Multicultural Kid Blogs are here to hold my hand with some really easy and cute crafts. I can't wait to try some of these delicious recipes (hint: pumpkin is the secret ingredient for most of them!) I received so many submissions that I separated them into categories: Autumn foods and Autumn Crafts. I'm sure you will be inspired by these ideas.   Autumn Foods I want Olga Mecking from the European Mama to come to my house and bake some delicious German and Polish apple pie and her savory pumpkin bread.   http://www.europeanmama.com/savoury-pumpkin-bread-recipe/ Grab one of those ready-made pie crusts from the refrigerator section of your grocery store and some ripe and juicy plums and pears and make some French fruit tarts with Phoebe from Lou Messugo. Swedes will love this recipe as it features...
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What Scuba Diving Taught Me About Marriage

What Scuba Diving Taught Me About Marriage

During my third year in college, I signed up for a marine biology course that required a two-week excursion to Honduras for practical application of everything we had learned in the classroom. The scuba training involved sessions in the shallow end of the outdoor university pool. Before we were cleared for diving, we had to successfully demonstrate all of those skills during an open water dive. We squeezed into a university van and headed to a nearby lake. Even in warm southern Florida, February is a cold time of the year to go scuba diving, and the water was bone-chilling cold. The final task of the exam simulated a disaster scenario—your tank runs out of oxygen, and you must head back to the surface without air. You can never hold your breath underwater while scuba diving—you must have a steady stream of bubbles escaping your lips unless you want to risk lung collapse and stroke. The instructor, my dive buddy, kept his hand...
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Mother Tongue: An Ambitious Memoir About Multilingualism

Mother Tongue: An Ambitious Memoir About Multilingualism

I pre-ordered this book because Christine Gilbert was offering some awesome rewards for her fans before the book hit the shelves. Despite living in Sweden, it arrived only 20 days after its release and I devoured it while absorbing the intense Swedish summer sun on my front deck. Christine Gilbert is somewhat of my publishing and adventure-driven nomadic mentor. She regularly packs up her family and sets off to a different country (she's traveled to over 35 countries) as she and her husband have digital careers. She has self-published numerous books and traditionally published her memoir with Avery, Mother Tongue: My Family's Globe-Trotting Quest To Dream In Mandarin, Laugh In Arabic, And Sing In Spanish. Her online courses are super clear recipes for how to start and sustain a digital career that allows you to live anywhere in the world. She's been successful and definitely knows what she's talking about so if you're interested in furthering a creative digital career, Christine is someone to...
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35 Reasons Expat Moms Crave Coffee

35 Reasons Expat Moms Crave Coffee

  Today is International Coffee Day but for expat moms, every day is international coffee day. Here are some reasons why expat moms really crave coffee—the sweet nectar of sanity.   1. Because it took you 8 minutes to translate the "crucial" information posted on your children's whiteboard at preschool   2. Cause sometimes tea just won't cut it   3. Because it's early and your child is giggling and shouting a new local word she just learned and you're not sure if it's a swear word or not   4. Cause a local mom invited you to her child's birthday party and you think you accepted although you're not sure if parents are expected to stay, leave, bring presents, eat cake, or none or possibly all of the above   5. Cause baking a local recipe required 5 conversions, 2 substitutions, and 7 minutes of translation   6. Because you woke up early to catch a plane to get your child's passport   7. Cause you need caffeine to manage driving on the other side of the road...
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An Open Letter—Please, Don’t Forget About Us

An Open Letter—Please, Don’t Forget About Us

We know that we live far away and we know that we chose to create that distance between us, but it doesn't mean that we don't love you, miss you, and wish that we were closer. We are relatively alone—there isn't any family here to swing by for a chat, to help babysit our kids, or to invite us over for a nice dinner. We've created new "family" in the way of friends who are also geographical orphans, but there is still a pause that happens before we think about imposing on a friend. Some of these "family" friendships are new and possibly tenuous relationships that may only exist because we are all in the same boat. Without a deeper connection, it is easy to overstep boundaries and so, in most cases, we choose not to impose. We'd rather be alone and keep those friendships rather than potentially lose our only sources of local support. We need to save those requests in case of...
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