I'm a frequent reader of the Expat Women website. When the founders of the site contacted bloggers to read and review their new book, Expat Women: Con...moreI'm a frequent reader of the Expat Women website. When the founders of the site contacted bloggers to read and review their new book, Expat Women: Confessions -- 50 Answers to Your Real-Life Questions About Living Abroad, I was excited and couldn't wait to start reading.
The founder of Expat Women has been compiling letters and answers from the popular Confessions column on the website and has put the most common subjects and frequently returned to topics into one book for easy reference. What I think everyone will take away from this book is that "You are not alone." Moving within your own country, even within your own town, is hard. Moving to a new country is very hard, no matter how prepared, organized, determined, or open-minded you are. It helps to hear others' stories for inspiration.
The book is organized into different topics, such as culture shock, raising children, death and divorce overseas, and moving back to your home country. There are questions from single women, women who are the working partner, and women who are the "trailing spouse." The women featured come from a range of different countries and backgrounds, not just the United States, which emphasizes the fact that we can all relate, because we all have some of the same thoughts from time to time.
I don't consider myself a seasoned expat, but I found myself already knowing the answers to some of the questions. One problem I found with the book is that regardless of the problem, the answers were similar or overlapped. There is a lot of advice geared around getting professional counseling, which seems like a difficult thing to do if one of your issues is a language barrier and there are no counselors or therapists practicing in your native language. There is apparently a huge market for life coaching, especially those who practice expat life coaching, of which I was unaware. Most of the advice is to relax and think through the problems and decisions and to have a positive attitude. Exercise and try to make friends. The same pep talk was repeated several times. I think there's more value in the variety of questions, knowing that whatever problem you have there's one other person out there with the same problem. The answer isn't always as important as knowing someone else already asked the question.
There is a lot of practical advice on what sorts of documents and paperwork we should all have in order, especially for when emergencies arise, such as financial papers, health records, wills, and documents pertaining to legal issues in your host country.
After reading this book my feelings that as a State Department expat I think we have it much easier than other expats were confirmed. As much as we grumble sometimes, we have an automatic network in place if we choose to use it. Much of the advice given in this book is similar to what you'll get from the Family Liaison Office. Our housing is mostly taken care of, we have medical personnel and security officers on-call a lot of the time. We have mail service. We jump in to a new assignment filled with people that have just gone through the same move and we have instant access to those people to show us the ropes of a new city.
I think the book can be a valuable resource for some women. It's easy to get so involved in our own little worlds that we forget there are others out there like us but sometimes it's nice to identify with someone.(less)
I got some good ideas for foods to try with Muffin, but overall the book was super complicated. It's billed as easy baby food for people who don't lik...moreI got some good ideas for foods to try with Muffin, but overall the book was super complicated. It's billed as easy baby food for people who don't like to cook. I like to cook, so maybe that's my handicap in understanding this book. Too many charts and graphs and cross-references to other pages. I don't know what's easy about that.
I had a hard time with the preachiness about breastfeeding and using only certified organic foods. The author also seems to think that everyone is a stay-at-home mom who can dedicate 100% of the time to feeding children. The Super Baby Food method just doesn't seem practical for a lot of parents. We obviously all want the best foods for our babies, but we shouldn't feel guilty about opening a jar or a box of macaroni and cheese every now and then.
Someone gave me their used copy of it. I'm glad I didn't spend the money on it myself.(less)