Meet Marie Brice, the mastermind behind Greatexpatations- a blog providing “365 tips to help expatriates rise above a life interrupted!” Here on Expat Explorer, Marie shares her story and inspiration for starting up her blog and some of the best and most unusual tips she’s had.
A tale of Great ExpatationsNo matter which way you look at it, we expats have a love-hate relationship with our expatriate status. One day we love it and want everyone to know how lucky we are to live this exotic lifestyle and the next we would sell it to the lowest bidder, hang up our walkin’ boots and head home to where everything is familiar and comfortable and well, easy. Whether we like it or not, we become a little addicted to the drama and excitement yet still want everything to slow down and become saner.
Writing Greatexpatations - helping expats rise above a life interrupted has been my way of expressing and trying to normalize the rollercoaster of emotions that we all go through as we live and work in other countries. It started off as a post ‘Julie and Julia’ epiphany on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean after a nice glass of chardonnay and a whimsical wondering about what I wanted to do next year. Writing a blog every day for one year seemed to be a natural way to capture not just the big things like repatriation and moving day and which schools for the kids, but also the everyday stuff that really becomes the fabric of our expat lives. The big stuff is anticipated, yet working and communicating with hundreds of expats in almost 100 locations over the past 9 years has shown me that it is the ‘little’ stuff that makes or breaks the experience, and sometimes the person.
The times when you cannot find a cake of soap with a smell you can tolerate, when you decide to get a good book and can’t find one in your language, when the shower stops working and your husband is out of town and you can’t say ‘plumber’ in your local language. When it turns 3 o’clock in the afternoon and you realize you have absolutely nothing of purpose to do till your partner comes home at 8pm and those Sunday afternoons when you would give anything for a cup of tea with your mum. These are the times when you just want to curl up and cry. The thing is, it’s easier to cry when someone else says they have cried too at those times - and for much lesser reasons!
Coaching expats is a joy because they are so real and open. Being able to challenge people with coaching questions as well as provide tips on my blog is so enjoyable - especially when some people feel like I have been secretly watching them! That just gave me an idea for a topic... Uncovering expat secrets......
My favorite topics and blogs have been on how outwardly mundane things in expat life such as ‘That smell reminds me of...’ and how walking past the sweetshop you are too afraid to go into, mirrors so much of our internal struggles. I loved doing ‘The best part...’ and ‘The worst part...’ of being an expat in all our roles (mother, wife, daughter...) because I got some fun comments and people got to talk about the real honest stuff. The same for Debunking Expat Myths – boy I thought I had some doozies but my readers trumped me every time! The best expat advice I ever got was... really clarified for me why I write this blog and how it has helped me unpack my expat life experiences. What a ride we are on!
As an expat, finding and following your purpose and passion is the best part of the adventure and I loved writing about this topic. Living in a place where there are no expectations or historical 'shoulds' can provide the opportunity to truly re-find and follow a dream... To that end I have lived out a life-long passion of mine that I would never have done at 'home-home' - singing- and now I sing in a Classic Rock band in Texas....
When I complete the 365 tips on December 31st, I will certainly celebrate and maybe I have the kernel of a book in there somewhere. I think I plan to plan nothing, yet maybe I will let whatever evolves, evolve as so many of my 220 plus blogs have. After all isn’t that what striving to be a great expat is all about? Just being where we are and letting go of control and power. Greatexpatations is my way of saying both it sucks and it’s worth it. I hope it is for you too.
About the author
Marie Brice is an Expat Life Coach, helping expats rise above a life interrupted. You can follow her on Twitter @jsmfornow, visit her website www.zencompassnow.com and add her excellent blog to your everyday reading list.