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Real life stories of life abroad

Even for someone who has traveled a lot, much of the world still remains an assumption based on news and headlines. This world usually becomes less scary when we read about what life is really like behind the headlines. Information becomes even more valuable if we are preparing to move to a new country. In the expatwomen blog database, I found lots of interesting life situations, funny stories, beautiful photos, facts Expat Women - Inspiring Your Success Abroadabout never-much-seen places in the world. These blogs usually don't report from the front lines in a war or famine. Nor do they usually report on what life is like outside of the privileged expatriate circles. But they often give us a more vivid understanding of life in another country than do typical news reports or school books. They describe how life gets organized in mundane daily detail, even, for example, with little kids in Libya during the current war.

 

It isn't better in France after all

by Sandra Aamodt

"In "Bringing Up Bebe," Ms. Druckerman, a journalist, is envious of Parisian parents whose children don't throw tantrums in public or fight on playgrounds. She ascribes this good behavior to stern French methods like forcing children to follow schedules and wait for attention. But in the school system, this strict approach translates to a rigid curriculum with an emphasis on memorization. French children also are tracked into different academic paths by age 12, a practice that reinforces the influence of parental socioeconomic status on educational and career outcomes, reducing social mobility.

Fortunately for American parents, psychologists find that children can learn self-control without externally imposed pressure. Behavior is powerfully shaped not only by parents or teachers but also by children themselves. The key is to harness the child's own drives for play, social interaction and other rewards. Enjoyable activities elicit dopamine release to enhance learning, while reducing the secretion of stress hormones, which can impede learning and increase anxiety, sometimes for years." go to the New York Times

Call me Okaasan

review by Katrina Grigg-Saito

..."Anjali Enjeti-Sydow picks up where Lewis leaves off, addressing race more directly than the others have chosen to. She is concerned about her daughter who is lighter-skinned than her other children. She fears that being paler will mean that her daughter "won't feel as connected to her brown ethnic background because she doesn't look the part . . . or that she'll feel silly wearing Indian bangles or salwar kameez on her white skin." And she worries that her daughter will be seen as an "ethnic fake."

The concerns and fears within these essays may be those of any parent -- that a child will not be accepted or happy in his or her own skin. But as a collection, these essays build on each other, with mothers picking up where others leave off, continuing a conversation that connects the experiences described in this book."

 

The loneliness of immigration

"What she missed most was people. Not any people in particular (apart, of course, from Hasina) but just people. If she put her ear to the wall she could hear sounds. The television on. Coughing. Sometimes the lavatory flushing. ... Everyone in their boxes, counting their possessions. In all her eighteen years, she could scarcely remember a moment that she had spent alone. Until she married. And came to London to sit day after day in this large box with the furniture to dust, and the muffled sound of private lives sealed away above, below and around her." Brick Lane

 

Go West: scenes from an American homecoming

by Peter Hessler

"In China, I came to think of the United States as essentially imaginary; it was always being created in people's minds, and in that sense it was more personal for them than it was for me. The questions reflected Chinese interests, dreams, and fears -- even when people discussed America, the conversation was partly about their home." go to the New Yorker

In India, Talking about living in Switzerland

"I dont know why but I sense that my parents are very proud that we live in Switzerland and I cant explain why but Im most reluctant to tell near strangers where I live. Ashu being the girl she is hardly ever strikes a conversation with strangers and even if she does, she ll only answer to Yes or No questions. Antu being small, people hardly direct their questions at her and even when she says "I live in Zurich", people assume she said Zoo and give me a weird look! So that only leaves my mother! While on the train, I went to the loo for like 30 seconds and my mom had introduced her grand daughters to half the compartment and maamas and maamis are asking me how I manage in the snow! One gentleman is asking ashu what her name is in German(!) and another lady is asking me if I get Murungaikaai there! Some people dont even know where Swiss is (Adhu enna? Newzealand pakkathula irukko?) and I have to tell them that it is near London! (My apologies to the Swiss!)." go to boosbabytalk blog

 

Expat parents in Thailand

Reading these blogs made me want to move to Thailand, but maybe not have a baby there (except at home or in the one hospital). Parent Vine Thailand

Coming home

by Paul Bennet

"It hit me really hard about a year ago when I walked out of Changi Airport in Singapore: that particular combination of cloying orchids, dried fish, durian, drains and that peculiar acrid-yet-sweet smell of wet tarmac after the monsoon rain, all carried on a humid tropical breeze right up my nostrils to that most primal and limbic part of our brain: the olfactory system. The part of the body that is said to hold memory.

This memory was overwhelming. I was home." see Metropolis Mag

 


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La Leche experience in China

"So yesterday I went to my first La Leche League meeting here in Beijing. It was just around the corner from my house at a local hospital and so I walked there. The English meeting is held on the last Friday afternoon of every month from 1:30-3:30pm. I went alone.

"When I arrived, there were only five other women in the room, all foreigners, and two with babies. Another woman looked about as pregnant as I am. Later, two more women arrived, each with very little babies strapped to their bodies." go to her blog

Gardening for happiness amongst immigrants

by Patricia Leigh Brown

"Like Scotch broom and dandelions, despair can be invasive. This is why, every Monday, Lee Lee, a Hmong refugee, puts on her sun hat and flip-flops, grabs the hoe handmade by her father and brother in Laos and heads to the Hmong Village Community Garden here, where she tends rows of purple lemon grass, bitter melon and medicinal herbs along with other Hmong women. ...

"The thinking of community leaders and health professionals is that gardens can help foster resiliency and a sense of purpose for refugees, especially older ones, who are often isolated by language and poverty and experiencing depression and post-traumatic stress. Immigrant families often struggle to meet insurance co-payments, and culturally attuned therapists are in short supply." the New York Times



Interested in more? Here are other articles:
Thailand India
immigrant life France
expatriate life environment
England customs
China Breast-feeding

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