Expat: Women's True Tales of Life Abroad

Expat: Women's True Tales of Life Abroad

by Christina Henry de Tessan
     
 

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It's one thing to travel abroad—to stay in charming hotels and deliberate over whether to visit this museum or relax at that café, even to head off the beaten track for a glimpse of "real" life—and another thing altogether to move to another country. Expat chronicles the experiences of twenty-two ordinary women living extraordinary lives inSee more details below

Overview

It's one thing to travel abroad—to stay in charming hotels and deliberate over whether to visit this museum or relax at that café, even to head off the beaten track for a glimpse of "real" life—and another thing altogether to move to another country. Expat chronicles the experiences of twenty-two ordinary women living extraordinary lives in outposts as far flung as Borneo, Ukraine, India, Greece, Brazil, China and the Czech Republic.

In vivid detail, these writers share how the realities of life abroad match up to the expat fantasy. One woman negotiates the rough courtesies of Serbia, finding lives limned by harshness and an insurmountable spirit. Another is tutored on English manners by an eclectic bunch from Liverpool: "The cardinal sin in America is to be insincere, whereas the cardinal sin in England is to be boring." For some, their new home prompts them to reconnect or confront lost parts of themselves: One woman rediscovers her Judaism—in Japan; another writer's Western outlook is challenged by Javanese mysticism. Many share their own naïve blunders and private confessions: a Thanksgiving dinner that doesn't translate in Paris, a sudden yearning for bad Hollywood films. And all discover that what it means to be "American" is redefined, again and again.

Expat taps into the bewilderment, the joys and surprises of life overseas, where the challenges often take unexpected forms and the obstacles overcome are all the more triumphant. Featuring an astonishing range of perspectives, destinations and circumstances, this collection offers a beautiful portrait of expatriate life.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Tourists merely visit, but expatriates get to live in another culture. Some of the women represented in this collection of 22 "tales" have lived abroad as students, teachers, or aid workers, while others either pursued career opportunities or fulfilled a romantic fascination with a particular country or culture. Motivation aside, almost all have chosen to relate experiences of vulnerability and unease and a nostalgia for the culturally familiar. An expat living in appliance-deprived China recounts her craving for and courageous attempt at roasting a chicken, while another in Prague relates the challenge of finding fresh produce in order to cook a chicken stir-fry. Yet another, in the south of France, homesick for Thanksgiving turkey, describes the troubles she had concocting such a dinner for acquaintances. Others are disheartened to discover that not all Australians have an abiding love for Yanks, that not everyone in Greece, Borneo, or Japan speaks English, and that most cultures have distinctive cues or codes that the foreigner will inevitably misinterpret. Most of the reporting is of disillusionment and cultural dissonance-cautionary tales for all who believe the global village is America. Recommended for public libraries.-Lonnie Weatherby, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Often amusing, sometimes disconcerting reminiscences from 22 American women who uprooted themselves to live at least temporarily in a foreign country. Many set off hoping to shake too-comfortable habits and the confining expectations of life at home, often jump-starting unexplored talents and inner resources as a result. From Belfast to Belize, with stops in South America, Australia, and Ukraine, these travelers report on the challenges of new language, new customs, new smells and tastes, new biases. Some of them tried to fit in. Medical worker Meg Wirth, tall and “white as a ghost” in Borneo, couldn’t hide her height in a land of small, dark people, but tried to disguise her pale skin under an umbrella. Some couldn’t fit. Small, dark Angeli Primlani, fleeing domestic violence in her small southern town, moved to Prague, where she was ostracized and spit on because she looked suspiciously like a gypsy. For Kate Baldus, a hard-to-find blanket was her talisman against both the chill and the strangeness of Bangladesh. Other adventurers describe fending off bouts of homesickness with food: a disastrous home-cooked Thanksgiving meal in France, a Jewish seder in Japan, an attempt to re-create Mom’s rosemary chicken with a live bird and a balky toaster oven in China. Funniest perhaps is Rhiannon Paine’s wry take on adapting American ways and language to life in Liverpool, England. Many of these wanderers subsidized their new lives as teachers of English. Some were exploring family connections; a few had romantic visions, like Marci Laughlin coming to Greece in search of Zorba. (Lonely and unable to adapt, she never did dance on the beach.) For most, what turned an often-daunting experiment intosuccess was, as hackneyed as it sounds, a sense of humor and friends who accepted them at face value and tolerated their fumbling attempts at speaking the language. Will resonate for former expats, and wannabes may pick up some useful tips.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580055208
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/05/2013
Series:
Adventura Books
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
1 MB

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