It happened at my first ever expat coffee morning. You know the one where you arrive flustered because you haven’t quite figured out where anything is in your new town, you don’t speak the language and you don’t know another living soul apart from our significant other.
I’m much better at these things now but back then I was utterly out of my depth. A fairly sudden decision to accept an offer from my husband’s employer had thrown us into a whole new life with little to no preparation. I hardly knew what an expat was and I had absolutely no plan for how I would cope with the complete change in lifestyle. To say we were winging it would be generous.
Home is such a complicated idea for so many expats, it certainly is for me. I wrestle with where it is, what it looks like, how it feels.
One of the definite benefits of being a small part of the Families in Global Transition 2017 Pascoe-Parfitt Writing Residents’ extended team is having to revisit some of the sessions from the conference. With so much to take in over three packed days, I’m still trying to process everything I heard. However, having to write an article on Dr. Cate Brubaker’s thought provoking ‘Expanding Your Tribe’ Kitchen Table session gave me a wonderful opportunity to reflect, not just on the themes of our discussion, but also on my ideas about ‘home’.
It’s been just over a week since the closing session of this year’s Families in Global Transition conference (#FIGT17NL) and my return to Texas. It seems like both yesterday and a whole other life time away.
In the week since I got ‘home’, I’ve found myself waking at odd hours of the night. For a while I thought it was jet lag. However, as the week wore on, I realized that my brain was still trying to process everything that I’d experienced at FIGT. I wasn’t waking up because it was breakfast time in Amsterdam. I was waking up because my head was full of ideas to research; books to read; contacts to follow up with; dreams to turn into reality.
It seemed appropriate that the last session of this year’s FIGT conference finished with a number of delegates sharing their stories.
The importance of telling our stories was a recurring theme over the last three days, but today is seemed to take center stage.