Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Would they have yachts? Second and third homes all over the world? How would I fit in? Like the first day in a new school, I wondered what my future expat community would be like.




Vinyl Decal created and sold by Single Stone Studios

One of the hardest parts of moving for me (besides the emotional goodbyes) was that I felt I was on an island. When you are pregnant, you meet other pregnant moms. And later moms with toddlers. But when you are moving to a foreign country, you are on your own.

It felt like uncharted territory with no one by my side doing it too - navigating complicated school decisions, selecting a neighborhood, worrying about moving our dog, and deciding what to take with us. Would our US garden hose fit on a UK spigot?




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Yet when we moved here, I quickly met other women who had moved the same week or month as us - we  stumbled through our new country together. Seasoned expatriates were like Bree from Desperate Housewives with a basket of goodies and information, asking me what questions I had. I found the expat community to be very warm, supportive, and down-to-earth. Yea!




Wooly Egg People handmade by and sold by AsherJasper

I love being asked, 'Is this your first assignment abroad?' It sounds like I am with the CIA on an important mission. Interestingly our private expat insurance has a section that describes how much they will pay for each lost limb. There are even security services that will get you out of a country quickly and quietly if needed. We're not in Kansas anymore, baby! 

I quickly fell into the naive trap of asking others, 'Where are you from?' Sounds innocent, but actually it is quite loaded and can grate on peoples nerves. Let me show you why...

One lovely friend is a mum from Lebanon (hi sweetie!). One child was born in Belgium; one in Ireland. Her husband is Dutch and commutes to Switzerland from London. I ask you, how are they supposed to answer the question of where their family is 'from' in just a few words?   Exactly.




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Typically a person's home and car often tell a lot about a person's economic status. But here, if a middle class family has a robust expat package, they could be living like kings. In contrast, a wealthier family may be living in a small home because they have to pay their own way.

Lives can be dramatically effected by the exchange rate too. If one comes from Finland, everything would appear really cheap and one could live a more extravagant life. Yet if one comes from a country with a weak currency, s/he may have a modest house, travel little, and only buy the necessities.

As you can see, natural identifiers of 'who we are' can be shed in the expat world. What crowd you ran with, what groups you joined don't matter here. It is refreshing to just show up as you are. When else does that happen?




Handmade by and sold by Sewn Natural

In case you were wondering, I haven't met anyone with a yacht. It doesn't seem to be in anyone's expat package :)

XO Laura

P.S. Looking for another expat perspective? Check out this fascinating blog written by an Australian expat living in Qatar in 4 Kids, 20 Suitcases And A Beagle
 
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