Calling all Expats

This is from my garden. It was taken last summer when there was less rain and healthier roses.

Here is a little plea from me to my expat buddies wherever they may be. If I don’t personally know you and you have something to say, please feel free to contribute also.

My last subject in my writing course is research and I would like to do my assignment on ‘The Trailing Spouse’s Place in the World.” Now obviously I have my own thoughts and ideas on this topic but was hoping that I could get some feedback from others I have met on my travels (I almost wrote challenges, a bit of a slip). I am thinking that I will put up thoughts or quotes I come across and if you have something to say whether in agreement, in detail or contradiction, pls add to the post or message me privately. Any help would be much appreciated. 🙂

I am hoping that I will eventually write a short fictional piece but not sure how this will play out as the word limit is very short (2000).  My point in mentioning this is that you won’t be quoted verbatim.  The idea is that I am gathering information and then portraying it in a way that is new.  Fingers crossed and much prayer that I succeed.

My first quote is by Yvonne McNulty (who wrote a research paper on the Trailing Spouse, http://www.thetrailingspouse.com).  She is quoted in an article in the Financial Times, “I don’t know a single expat who didn’t say they weren’t challenged to rethink who they were, what they stood for.”  This is really the essense of my original (as in first for me) idea so please share any thoughts on how moving to a new country impacted your sense of self.

Thanks,

Kim

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2 Responses to Calling all Expats

  1. suzanne says:

    I think everyone has to “rethink” who they are at some point in time – it recharges your battery. Expat wives that I have met have all been the driving force behind the family. Its a full-time occupation to ensure that the household is functioning properly and more stressful when you arrive in a country where you dont even speak the language. Ive seen many women break down in the first few weeks upon their arrival to Copenhagen because the stress was all too much,; shipment not arriving, internet connection not working, isolation until you get to meet someone who understands and enjoys your company. And then of course its time to leave which brings along another kind of stress – the children leaving their friends, the wives leaving great friendships behind and having to become the understanding wife for the husband who is also going through his own issues usually silently. So i agree totally it is challenging to rethink who you are when most expats have had more moves in ten years than any normal person. But they are all opportunities to learn and grow and become better and one day the kids move out and hopefully the spouse has done something with his/her life in order to cope with the stress of yet another new beginning. I know many who have gone back studying in preparation for that day or stayed active throughout moves either through PTA or volunerary work, and then there are many who continued to be great stay-at-home mums even after the kids have gone but its all choice.

    looking forward to reading the outcome!!

  2. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought as becoming an expat (and especially the accompanying partner — sorry, can’t abide ‘trailing spouse’) is that you often arrive in a new place without any of the markers or labels that helped you define who you were: friends, family, job, career, in-demand skills, fulfilling activities, community roles, etc. It takes hard work, emotional grace and mental toughness to take a deep breath and start over, all while you’re mourning the day-to-day loss of all that used to be. It isn’t easy, but in time it can definitely be worth it, especially if you want to lead a fulfilling life and not just settle for ‘biding time and getting by’. One thing I do notice is how many people don’t remember how long it took them to build up their friends and pillars of support. They arrive and realize that they are starting over, from scratch. It takes time to meet and get to know a host of people, and over time, if you’re fortunate, you forge a range of friendships that help you thrive. Doing it over and over is difficult and challenging, but knowing you CAN do it makes a big difference. It also makes you appreciate your friends and family more.

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