Expat wife/life: NOT always as pictured!

I came across this meme the other day and chuckled. I/we do travel, I use to get massages while living in Qatar quite often, I was a lady who lunched, I did shop a lot, I felt like I managed it all, but at the end of the day, what do I really do? Sort out documents – from birth certificates, passports, vaccinations, insurance forms, etc. BUT that was then…this time around, on our 4th international move, I am in another expat boat and am doing a lot more than just sorting out documents.

To begin with, we moved with the expectation that we would just settle in this little town of ours for three years, enjoy family time and the whole work/life balance that Scandinavians are known for. (I know, I should not have expectations…) This ideal situation unfortunately hasn’t unfolded for us yet because unexpectedly things changed at my husband’s work and he now travels WEEKLY for work. I have now learned that surprisingly like many other expats, we have a weekend marriage…not the easiest thing when you have two small kids!

While trying to figure out our lives where husband/dad is not home during the week, I have been really sick with mastitis recently. Something that I wish no mother has to go through. But this has given me the time to think about our lives as expats, moving around from country to country, adjusting every time, orientating, finding friends and so on. It isn’t always easy or as glamorous as I may portray it to be via social media posts. I actually posted about this being my expat problem – click here to read about it!

One thing for sure is that I would not move with a baby again. Why? Asides from trying to get settled, baby is growing, not sleeping, going through milestones, and making the move just slightly harder. My personal ironic twist – we first moved to Denmark when my son was 7 months. It was hard then. This time, my daughter was also 7 months. Even harder this time around. Lesson learned for me: do not move with a baby, who is 7 months old!!!!

Now that baby girl is off to nursery, I have more time to ponder should we continue this expat life of ours. It isn’t about shopping, lunching, getting massages as the meme suggests. The travel is a big perk however. That is not only because we are expats, but we are in countries that support time off from work. Thinking about our ten years as expats, we have so many great memories and experiences that make it difficult to say, I just want to settle back home…wherever that is now! Maybe deep down I don’t ever want to settle. It seems to be easy to say, “let’s just move back”. But I know that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, is it? Need to start watering my own again…grass is greener where you water it…

 

Happy Halloween – The scary parts/Expat Problems

As Halloween is ending in Denmark, I am realizing how depressing holidays become as an expat. I know that I am in a foreign country and can’t expect everyone to celebrate the way I grew up celebrating a holiday, but it doesn’t mean that my heart slightly aches a bit more around these holidays when my kids don’t have the same traditions as I did growing up.

Scandinavia as I know it has begun to embrace Halloween a bit more over the years. At the grocery stores, dedicated areas were filled with the familiar assortment of costumes, decorations and candy. But, the locals, at least where I currently live, didn’t go further to really celebrate.

We ventured out tonight, and lucked out at three houses out of at least 20. No one had decorations out, not even a glowing jack-o-lantern. I am resigning to the fact that in some local article it was said that Halloween is to be celebrated before or after October 31 this year since today marks the celebration 500 years of reformation. Thus this Friday there is something in town arranged, and am hoping that my son will be satisfied.

Last year in Doha, Halloween was something out of movie. Houses decorated, kids running around trick or treating. Simple, sweet, holiday done and dusted. This year, I rather not repeat since as much as I tried, my little village didn’t. My efforts gave hopes to my son, only to make me explain that the Danes here don’t celebrate it quite like we are use to. Different cultures. Different lifestyles. Welcome to expat life kid. At least you got three lollipops! Grass is greener where you water it, right?!

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Expat problem #2: Being sick as an expat and understanding the local approach

I have been in a rut for a couple of weeks and it all began when I got sick for the first time living in Qatar. Needless to say, it is never easy being in a foreign country and needing to see a doctor. Without questioning, you take the advice of your newly made friends and go see their recommended doctor and hope that their doctor understands you, the illness and your approach of how to deal with it. To no surprise, this all varies from country to country.

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