The Expat life has many a perk and these we are renowned and famous for. What many don't realize is that every couple of years you get kicked into a new reality and you are obliged to begin all over again, just when you were getting comfortable.
It is like a game of snakes and ladders only if you land on the snake - i.e. your husband comes home jubilant with a new contract in hand - it feels like you've been sent back all the way to the starting box. BUT over time you will have climbed so many ladders that you'll know how to skip a few steps. THAT's when your Expat experience and network is worth gold.
Expats tend to be more outgoing or simply bolder. We have learnt what we need to get our families settled as fast as possible so we can get back to a normal life. Efficient communication is vital, literally!
Last month I bumped into a lady I meet once in a blue moon at the gym, she was telling me how she had moved to Luxembourg but stills plans her little day trips to Paris (which seem to include pilates classes). Knowing that one of my friends was about to move to Luxembourg, I asked her if she'd mind my friend contacting her for some insider tips, thinking in terms of a telephone call. As an expat it is not unusual to receive calls from a friend of a friend (whom you have never met) who has lived in the country you're about to be deployed to, in order to get some vital, realistic survival info. More often than not that person is in the middle of moving herself and you will never meet, nevertheless you spend a good 30 to 60 minutes on the phone happily sharing all your experiences to ease the imminent arrival.
There are some moments I am just plain proud to be part of the Expat community. I am also a firm believer of what goes around, comes around! Opening my inbox this morning, this mail just made my day:
"Your contact in Luxembourg is a wonderful doll and I am so grateful that you introduced us. I reached out to her before spring break saying I was coming up for a couple days and we arranged to get together. (Later I found out she was leaving the next day for the US for a couple weeks and it would have been easy to say no but she didn't.) She not only picked me up from the train station, she also gave me a tour of the city and pointing not only neighborhoods but also specific streets we should try to find homes on. We went for tea/coffee and just had a wonderful afternoon. She truly is a beautiful person, inside and out. She said she was just paying back what others have done for her when she has moved. It was more than I could have ever imagined and I have you to thank for making the connection."