Book Review “Expat Life: Slice by Slice” by Apple Gidley

Expat Life Slice by SliceExpat Life Slice by Slice

by Apple Gidley

Book Description: Apple Gidley is not only a TCK, but one that has parented and now grandparenting TCKs. She shares her life from the beginning in Africa with her pet monkey, to the various moves and boarding schools, to life as a young mother, and the challenges of elderly parents. She offers insights and tips throughout the book that all expats can use.

My Take: I received this book from Janneke, a fellow blogger-friend who writes at DrieCulturen. I was excited to read it after Janneke’s review because Apple has been an expat all her life. With a full understanding of the TCK experience, she shares her frustrations and excitement living and traveling around the world not only as a TCK, but also as a trailing spouse, or as she has renamed this group STARS (Spouses Traveling And Relocating Successfully). I enjoyed her humorous stories and related to many of her, let’s just say, interesting experiences. I liked this book because it wasn’t just a memoir of an expat life. At the end of each chapter (slice) she gives tips and thoughts that she calls the “Take Away Slice”. Although, I didn’t agree with everything that she writes, I do think it was a good book that made me think through some issues.

I must warn you now, I was inspired with a few ideas for posts while reading this book. So, you will be hearing more about this book later. So, I definitely recommend it to those who are about to venture into expat life, those who are in the midst of the adventure, or to even those who have left or about to return “home”. She has much to share.

Your Turn: Have you read this book yet? What were your thoughts? Please share in the comments below.

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Mamas Need Their Outlets, too!

Golfers on the Coral Gables Country Club

photo from The Commons via flickr.com

Schools are starting back up for many around the world. For some families that means getting routines set, taking one last holiday, but for many others it is setting up the new home and getting the kids excited to start a new school – or at least helping them to adjust to a new school.

Women's Curling Briar

photo from The Commons via flickr.com

What happens on that first day though, once all the kids are dropped off at school and you return to a quiet home? Do you collapse in wonderment? Do you get a fresh cup of coffee to slowly savor without distractions? Housework? Chores? Cry?

What do you do? You need an outlet, too! A place where you can laugh with friends, discuss or chat. You just need a place where you can be you, the person – not the mom. Don’t get me wrong, I love being Mom. It’s just that once in awhile it is nice to have adult conversations and to eat at my own pace my very own dessert.

What do these “places” or groups look like? Some cities have regular set dates that an expat group has organized. Other cities may not have anything set, but maybe the school has a Mother’s Tea where you can meet other moms. This group could be a Bible-study, book club, or any other small group gathering that meets for a certain purpose.

Why should you get involved in a group? Women in general support each other and talk – as Apple Gidley in her book Expat Life Slice by Slice says, “…international women groups around the world, whether a luncheon group, a tennis club or a sewing group are expatriate man’s best ally” (p40). I so agree with her on this because who understands our situations better than another expat mom? We become fast “sisters” helping and encouraging each other.

How do you find these precious gems? You have to look for them. Ask other mothers at the school what there is to do. Find out if your city has an expat magazine or website that lists activities that would interest you. If there isn’t, you could start one. I’m sure there are others out there who would love to go out for coffee, too!

I’ll leave you with this last tip from Apple in finding a group: Make sure it is international, not made up from solely one country. She says that, “Instead of celebrating the differences they {mono-culture groups} tend to moan about them, whereas international groups are more forgiving” (42).

So, go out and find a group and make some friends of your own. Already in a group? Watch for the new moms and invite them to join – be a bridge to help them settle into their new home quicker.

*Although this is geared towards the mother as the trailing spouse, there are groups out there for dads/guys as well, but I find that guys don’t tend to “need” this close bonding friendship like women do.

**Thanks to Janneke at DrieCulturen for giving away the book Expat Life Slice by Slice by Apple Gidley.

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