Expat Women: Confessions

Expat Women: ConfessionsI know it sounds like a lurid television drama (back in the early ‘80s, Caged Women — as Prisoner: Cell Block H was called in Canada — was my guilty pleasure) but this is the title of a useful little book based on the eponymous advice column on ExpatWomen.com. Authored by ExpatWomen.com co-founder Andrea Martins and Victoria Hepworth, the book is subtitled 50 Answers to Your Real-Life Questions about Living Abroad, and it more than delivers on its promise.

Andrea very kindly included a pre-release copy in the registration kit of every attendee at the recent FIGT conference. I’ve been taking it on a leisurely test-drive, dipping into it every couple of days to check out whatever catches my eye. With sections on Settling In, Career and Money, Raising Children, Relationships, Mixed Emotions, and Repatriation, it lends itself to that kind of episodic reading. The user-friendly layout means it’s easy to find practical advice on whatever topic interests you, without necessarily having to read it cover to cover in a single sitting.

But what great stuff there is sandwiched between those covers! Starting with the foreword by expat expert Robin Pascoe (who admits, “I am still surprised at the number of women who are afraid to appear anything less than perfectly well adjusted”) and ending with the excellent list of resources, this is a must-have reference book for any woman contemplating moving overseas, or experiencing problems once she’s arrived.

The tone is non-judgmental. The language is accessible. The authors have succeeded brilliantly in creating a nurturing environment that makes the reader feel as though she’s having a chat over coffee with a good friend. You get the feeling that here, there really is no such thing as a dumb question.

What I admire about this book is its straightforward, no-nonsense approach. If you’re looking for something that sugar-coats the expatriate experience, this might not be the book for you. If, however, you’re looking for a book that’s honest about the fact that sometimes bad stuff happens — and provides sensible suggestions for dealing with it — you’re in luck.

Expat Women: Confessions isn’t afraid to touch on such hot potato topics as teen suicide, domestic violence, and infidelity, and the authors frankly warn the reader that “not every day will be a good day.” But each nugget of advice is lovingly wrapped in enough empathy and encouragement to make anything seem possible.

The book is available as of today. You can download a free sample and learn more about it at www.expatwomen.com.

Nobody asked me to write this review. And nobody paid me. <sigh>

About Maria

I'm a Canadian repatriate, former expat spouse, mother to two TCKs (and one yellow Lab), mentor to new immigrants, writer, reader, world traveller (grounded for now). I write about expat/repat issues and am still trying to figure out my place in the world.
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14 Responses to Expat Women: Confessions

  1. Very nice review! I’m reading it now and enjoying it, too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Maria says:

      Thanks, Linda. Did you get to the part about the importance of learning the death customs and laws in your host country? It’s a good tip, and one that never would have occurred to me.

  2. Thanks for sharing this.

    It’s an eye-opener, and often not a happy one, when your expectations or hopes of your new country prove wrong. I live in the US, and was married and divorced here, and before I married — being a nosy reporter and worried about my future with family far away — consulted an attorney as to my property and other rights after marriage, after five years’ common law life. None! And so I got a decent pre-nup, which I needed like oxygen after he walked out on me (I had no job) barely two years in. I was terribly vulnerable and alone, but at least had alimony and did not lose my home.

    You must do your due diligence, even if it’s not fun or amusing data you learn.

    • Maria says:

      You’re way smarter than me! Someone asked me, a couple of days before I moved to Singapore, if I knew the Emergency phone number there. It hadn’t even crossed my mind. Dialling 911 wouldn’t have been much good in Singapore, and I’m grateful to that person for thinking of my safety while I was busy freaking out about everything else.

  3. Maria, thank you! What a great write-up. Judy Rickaston sent me to your blog just now to take a look. I really appreciate your support. Many, many thanks! Andrea Martins 🙂

  4. Expat Mum says:

    I’m about a third into this book and very impressed with it on every level! Your review is spot on.

  5. Sine says:

    Maria, thanks for sharing and I’ll go check it out to possibly review on Joburg Expat as well. Love your last line about no one asking you to write it and also not getting any money for it. I sigh that same sigh many times but keep writing anyway. BTW I just followed a story where this US company is now buying picture copyrights and then suing bloggers who’ve used them on their blogs, even if they are not money-making blogs. How unfair – most likely you’re actually promoting their site with your unpaid article, and then you can still get sued. So to all you bloggers out there, make sure you take your own pictures (a good way to start a new hobby) or at least link back to where you got the picture from (though I suspect that is legally not sufficient, you technically have to ask permission). Sorry to hijack your comments section and go off topic, but thought I’d share.

    • Maria says:

      You can tell I was in a pensive mood when I sighed at the end of that post. I get paid for other writing projects I do, but my blog is an unpaid labour of love. It’s very satisfying, don’t get me wrong, but I do sometimes think a little ka-ching would be nice as well! Regarding photos, taking your own is one way, but I also buy some photos from istock.com or get them for free from stock.xchnge or flickr under the conditions of the various creative commons licenses.

  6. gwen says:

    Great….as if my to-read list isn’t already long enough. No, really, this sounds like a fabulous resource to have in the life of an expat. Will put it toward the top of my list. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hi Maria, Gwen, Sine, ExpatMum, Broadsideblog and Linda,

    Agree completely – I think we are all guilty of not knowing everything we should, to protect ourselves abroad – in terms of death, divorce, income – and even basic things like emergency numbers!

    Just for interest, you know our divorce abroad blog post from years ago still gets more interest and comments than any other blog post. I fear that too many women are needing to Google that term. 😦

    Sine, please do get in touch and I’d be more than happy to send you a preview e-copy for potential review on Joburg Expat! andreaweb@expatwomen.com

    ExpatMum – thanks for your positive feedback also!

    Maria – volume 2…? Aaaahhh… if only you knew the hours invested in volume 1… I can’t see a volume 2 on the horizon anytime soon… but thanks for the encouragement! The next book I’m planning is a collection of some of the Success Story and Business Idea interviews on our site – those women (whether they are making money or not), truly inspire me, the way they have successfully reinvented their lives abroad. 🙂

    Thanks Everyone for your support – it means a lot! Andrea x

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