I was born in Sandwich Illinois at the far, far outskirts of the Windy City, but I have lived by the White House in D.C., the Eiffel Tower in Paris, a 15th century German castle, and Lake Geneva surrounded by the Alps. I moved 12 times in 17 years between four different countries. Even spectacular views cannot erase the bouts of loneliness inherent in expatriate life.
In 1979, as a globe trotting pro basketball player, when I landed in France and saw little women with baseball bats (baguettes) slung lover their shoulders, scurrying down cobblestone streets blowing air kisses, I thought, “OMG, I’ve landed on another planet.”
Back then, in a flat sans telephone, TV, microwave or electronic anything, domestic chores took on new meaning. I washed clothes in the bathtub, shopped daily and my only connection to home was thin, blue, airmail envelops that took ten days to arrive. Whether living in Germany amongst college co-eds, in Paris as a young mother, or Switzerland as a teacher, friendships with women kept me sane. Throughout my transitions from athlete to coach to teacher to writer, from wife to mom to empty nester, I have depended on a sisterhood of females – teammates, colleagues, friends, neighbors – to help me cope with hard times while living 4,000 miles away from extended family.
My journey would’ve been far less turbulent if ExpatWomen.com
, the largest global website helping women living abroad existed when I first moved overseas. Reading the down to earth information on a site displaying over a 1000 content pages, 1600 expat women blogs, 300 readers’ stories, country resources pages, interviews, motivational articles, a blog and newsletter is like sitting down for a cup of coffee with your BFF.
As ExpatWomen.com celebrates its 4th anniversary, I embark on my 32nd year abroad. Happy Birthday to us – women overseas who are raising families, learning other languages, adopting new lifestyles, negotiating internationally and living cross culturally. And a special shout out also to the women back in our homelands who keep us grounded by sharing our past and reminding us where we came from and who we are.
Santé, prost, salud, hälsa, cheers. Here’s to expats worldwide! Bring on the next adventure!