By Andrea Martins and Victoria Hepworth
Published by Expat Women Enterprises Pty Ltd ATF Expat Women
Published in May, 2011
The Expat Women website (www.expatwomen.com) is a website that aims to equip women living expatriate lifestyles with knowledge, resources and an online support network in the hope that this will enable them to live fulfilling and enjoyable lives at their various overseas locations. This book is a result of the compilation of fifty reader's real-life 'confessions' about their lives and the issues that typically plague those who live the expatriate lifestyle.
The book is split into six sections covering settling into a new country, questions of career and money, raising children abroad, relationship issues, other common issues associated with living abroad and of course the inevitable return home. Each question is given a positive and helpful response, focusing on plans of attack and solutions whilst still retaining a strong grounding in reality.
The questions covered range from the everyday struggles to the darker realities of life such as infidelity and teen suicide and although certainly not all of them will be relevant to all who read this book at one time, this seems to be an excellent resource to dip into on the occasion that you're feeling a little lost or in need of guidance. The most consistently made point in the whole of this book is need for a social connection. Going overseas to live may seem like a glamourous lifestyle to those we have left behind but in reality it can be isolating and scary, especially if you're living in a country where you don't speak the language or understand the culture. Meeting others who you can connect with and who can relate to your experiences is an essential part of settling into and living a meaningful existence in your new country which is one of the driving forces behind The Community Services Center - Taipei, were I work.
There is one issue that I had with this book, however. Despite its global reach of looking at the lives of women in loads of different countries, I felt like it was really focusing on one particular sort of expat woman, namely those who have moved abroad due to a corporate contract. Which isn't to say that this group is not worthy of focus but there are other women living lives overseas who don't fit this category. What about those who moved overseas to teach? What about those who are doing missionary work? What about those, like myself, who are 'foreign spouses'? What about overseas-born folks who have come back to their parent's home country to explore their cultural roots? Perhaps I'm asking too much for one book to be able to incorporate the views and experiences of such a diverse range of women but then again, aren't we all women who are expatriated even if we're not living what is commonly understood to be the 'expatriate lifestyle'? I think, in the spirit in which this book is written, perhaps the best solution based answer to this expat confession would be to suggest that there is room for a future book: Other Expat Women: Confessions Continued...
But despite the fact that one size doesn't fit all, there are plenty of people I know who will find this book a very useful addition to their bookshelf. Whether you're thinking about moving overseas, newly arrived or even been overseas for a while now this book will have something to offer. It doesn't matter where you are in your life, the main message of this book is that you can and will succeed and find happiness and that there are others out there who know exactly how you feel.