In the many years I have lived abroad I have become an expert in saying goodbye. I have gotten used to the fact that people come and go. Saying goodbye is inevitably connected to the expat life. You make new friends, but you never know how long the friendship will last, because one day they – or you – will move on again. We might not be typical expats, my family and I. We’re not living on a compound, hanging out at the pool with fellow-expats, and our children don’t go to international schools. But over the past sixteen years we have lived in four different countries, so I guess you could say that we know what it’s like to say goodbye.
For an expat mom there’s usually not much time to dwell on goodbyes. Apart from the thousands of practical things she is expected to take care of, her main concern is coaching her children through the difficult times of saying goodbye. While the expat dad is busy building up his career, the expat mom is taking care of everything else. I once read the expression “mom is the glue that holds everything together, even if she feels like she’s falling apart”.
For an expat wife there’s usually not much time to build up a career. It is not obvious for her to find a job that suits both her educational level, her experiences and her expertise. In her new home-country she’s starting all over again. What she did before and who she was before somehow doesn’t seem to matter anymore. She needs to reinvent herself. This often pushes the expat wife into accepting a job that doesn’t suit her very well, which sooner or later leads to frustration or – even worse – to a negative self image. When I realized this last summer, I immediately quit my job – a job that did not suit me at all – and that was definitely one of the best decisions I ever made.
But let’s not only talk about the negative sides of expat life, because despite the difficulties it can be a very rewarding life and it certainly is a very interesting life. Saying goodbye is not only sad, it also brings on new opportunities. When you close one door another one opens, they say. That was certainly true last summer. After I quit my job I started exploring new horizons. One of them was blogging. I discovered that I like to write and not only that, I discovered that other people like my writing.
Recently a new door has opened for us. A new adventure has crossed our path and with that a new language. This summer we will move to Florence for one year, which means that my head will be filled with Italian instead of Danish. Finding the inspiration to write stories about Danish language and culture while living in Italy will be difficult. Therefore I have decided that this is my last blog post for Taldansk. At least for now. I have promised the Taldansk blogging team that I will pop up as a guest writer once in a while. So I am happy to say that this is not a real goodbye, but more like a “see you around”. Instead of saying farvel I’ll just say: