Recommended reading: September 3rd, 2018

My latest collection of recommended posts about expatriate life and Third Culture Kids. This week includes topics such as transition, self care, identity, and ordinary expat life.

Dear Parents Launching Your Third Culture Kids
Djibouti Jones
A beautiful piece from the always lovely Rachel, this time describing the emotional storm of dropping her twin TCKs off at university – and leaving them there.
You feel alone. You look at the other parents, the ones who live in the same city or the same state or the same country and you are jealous or angry or feeling protective. You think no one understands all the questions and losses and griefs and fears racing through your mind and heart. You’re confused because no one told you raising TCKs would end up here, would end up with you on the other side of the ocean finally appreciating what you’ve put your own parents through all these years abroad. No one told you this would be harder than moving abroad in the first place.”

Never just a curry
Jo Parfitt
I love this! Food is so powerful – a memory trigger, a comfort, and so relational. In this post, Jo traces her family’s history of curry, across countries and continents – to the excitement of a new discovery.
For most of our 30 years of marriage, ask us what our favourite food is and we’d say Arabic without pausing for thought. But this week it hit me. It’s time we changed our answer – to Indian curry even though we have never lived there. I have not even visited. Curry has been a red thread through our lives abroad.

Football, Children, and Culture: Not Just a Game
Multicultural Kid Blogs
In this post a mother of TCKs talks about creating memories for her sons that connect them to the country that formed her, a country they have not lived in. A lovely read.
There are so many memories wrapped up in Watford football matches for me. And as I sit next to each of my sons on the terraces where those memories were made I am carefully unwrapping some of them and passing them to my sons for safe keeping. At the same time, my dad and I are making childhood memories for my sons – ones they will never forget. . . It’s hard for my children to imagine I had a life elsewhere before I ‘turned Dutch’. These trips are a small window into that life. They see the town I used to live in, they see a part of the life I had before I moved to the Netherlands and became their mother. They get a glimpse of the culture that has formed me, and them too.

6 Essential Practices for Hard-to-Reach Stressors
World Tree Coaching
Another great post from Jodi, this time exploring background stress and what we can do about it. This all rings very true for me at the moment! Life overseas pretty much IS background stress. There are so many little things that are different or difficult, so many small uncertanties and stressors, and they all add up. Background stress is one of those things we slowly adjust to until we’re drowning and don’t quite know why. The self reflection required to keep on top of this, to recognise the background stress of life in a different setting, takes a lot of conscious effort.
To deal with the challenges that hit at our egos, our values and our sense of purpose – it’s important to develop habits of self-reflection and insight. Taking the time to look more closely at who we are and how we fit in the world can be difficult. Sometimes the effort can feel daunting. We may not be sure we’ll like what we find there. On the other hand, deep down most of us know it’s important to do this type of inner work so that we can grow and develop into our full selves. One way to cultivate a more reflective state is to develop practices that naturally foster paying attention to our experiences. These skills can help us turn towards what’s going on inside and around us, giving us more information about the source of background stress.

Staying Healthy Overseas: Emotional and Mental Wellness
Taking Route
This is another good post in the same vein – looking after ourselves well enough to not only get through life but actually enjoy it, expat bumps and all.
It is easy to get burnt out while living overseas. I know that, you know that, but are we doing enough to make sure we don’t get burnt out? The answer for me is almost always “no.”…This article is not really a guide on how to do wellness overseas as much as it is a letter to myself to prioritize my emotional and mental wellness while living abroad.”

Redefining French Identity
The Parent Voice
This is a really interesting post – a story and reflections on identity, translated into English alongside the original French. Anissa talks about her experience of identity – two passports, from Canada and Tunisia, and being born in France but never having had French citizenship. She talks about the chameleon and the salamander as metaphors for changeable identity. For her the chameleon adapts by blending in, whereas the salamander cuts away pieces. She also talks about active vs passive – when I make the choice to adapt myself, rather than changing in response to the perceptions of others.

Simple pleasures: grocery shopping
Stories from Tanya
And finally, I’m sharing something from my other (more ordinary) blog, where I recently started writing again after a two year hiatus. I realised that this particular post is the sort of thing I would share as recommended reading if I read it elsewhere, so I figured I’d add it to the list this week! In it I deconstruct a trip to my local Chinese market, and why the experience was relaxing for me. It touches on transition, language, culture, and stopping to appreciate the lovely in ordinary life.
I don’t like standing out as a stranger, but I don’t mind so much when it happens less randomly. If I’m interacting with someone for a separate reason, and they remark on my foreign-ness and command of Mandarin, that doesn’t irritate me. Most of the time, I enjoy these little interactions. The person is not encroaching on my existence, they are sharing it for the moment that we are involved in a task together. . .I succeeded in being a local member of my community, for a few minutes on a sunny Monday morning.

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