Challenges of Expats – Interview with Lisa Webb
In my goal to support people with integration and languages, I interview expats. Each one reveals personal stories and advise about moving or living abroad.
How to feel ‘’at Home’’ can be a challenge.
Let me introduce you to Lisa as she shares her experiences abroad.
Original country: Canada
Expat countries: France (Paris and South of France), Indonesia and moving to Congo
Current country: packing up life in Indonesia
Your story in a nutshell/ who are you: I’m 35 years old, Canadian.
I’m a teacher, turned assistant principal, turned expat Mom. I quit my job when we moved to Paris, and then later, when we moved to the south of France, I had two daughters there. After they were born I started the blog Canadian Expat Mom to share my experiences becoming a mom in a foreign country. My stories soon turned to travel and I started freelance writing. Shortly after, my blog became a boutique press and I penned the book, ‘The Kids Who Travel the World’ which quickly became and Amazon bestseller. Canadian Expat Mom will be releasing its debut anthology June 6, 2016 called, ‘Once Upon an Expat’, which is a collection of stories written by expats across the globe.
My husband and I are both from Canada. Six years ago we left Canada and moved to France. Last year we moved to Borneo, Indonesia and now, after this summer we will be moving to Congo.
Biggest challenges: Language barriers!
Overcoming fear: quitting my job and making the first leap abroad was the hardest part . I needed to find something else that I was passionate about in my new home. I found a yoga studio in Paris and met a great community of people. I spent six months getting certified as a yoga instructor and made great friends, helping plant roots in my new city and really make it feel like home.
Working practices and benefits in your adopted country: The French have lots of holidays, so it was nice for my husband to be able to adopt that. Also we love the French practice of eating: long elaborate meals, paired with great wine-what’s not to love really 😉
Where you find inspiration from: speaking with other global families and hearing their amazing stories from all over the world
What is your current business? My blog, Canadian Expat Mom, has recently become a boutique press, publishing my children’s book series, The Kids Who Travel the World, and also launching its debut anthology, Once Upon an Expat. This is written by a collection of 38 authors who share their stories of living abroad. Both books can be found on Amazon.
How you stay motivated: There’s not much to do while living on a compound, and since I really enjoy what I do, it’s a pleasure to have something to fill my days.
What are your words of Wisdom? Take the leap. Change can be a very scary thing, and I used to think moving got easier, but now with our upcoming move to Africa, I’m changing my tune. Sometimes moving into the unknown can be a scary thing, no matter how many times you’ve done it. You have to have faith that some good will come out of new situations, even if it’s difficult to see the good amidst the chaos.
Plans for the future: Continue to explore writing as a creative outlet for this adventure we’re on together as a family.
What was your first impression of the county/the people? Each place we’ve lived I’ve taken away insight from the locals.
In Paris I learned that the Parisian stereotype isn’t necessarily true. I didn’t find Parisians rude, but on the contrary, I will always remember that I rode the metro daily during my pregnancy and not once did I stand because a smiling Parisian always offered me their seat.
In the SW of France I found that it is true; the French do love their food! They’re passionate about enjoying the rich and delicious delicacies that their country is known for…and the wine; the wine was in adundance!
In Indonesia it took me months to get used to the constant heat, day and night, frankly, I still don’t think I’ve adjusted. But what I have gotten used to was the Indonesian people constantly smiling. They are a warm, welcoming people, very proud of their country and happy to share it with an obvious foreigner like myself.
Did you integrate and adjust smoothly with the locals? In Indonesia I am a more obvious foreigner and locals tend to be more interested in where I’m from and why I’m here. In France it was easier to blend in, although my choppy French grammar was a dead give away that French wasn’t my first language.
In both countries I found a smile and an interest and respect for local customs and culture go a long way.
Please tell us your important TIP(s) when moving to a new country:
• Join as many activities as you can.
• Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
• Don’t be afraid to mess up-whether it’s a language, figuring out a currency or finding your way in a new city. Mistakes are stepping stones to getting it right! 🙂
Thank you very much!
Interviewed by Rachel Smets