Expat life in Spain, France, Hong Kong, Australia, Israel, Belgium, New Zealand and the UK
Grief, loneliness, Brexit, motherhood, identity, single parenthood, rootlessness, drinking culture and integration are just some of the issues tackled in a series of powerful stories written by ten women on the challenges of expat life in Spain, France, Hong Kong, Australia, Israel, Belgium, New Zealand and the UK.
In one of the first books of its kind, these women reveal some of the emotional upheavals and struggles that go hand-in-hand with moving away from their native ‘home’, but until now have remained largely untold.
“I’ve been living in Barcelona on a permanent basis since 2006. During this time, via work and social networks, I have met some truly extraordinary people, particularly women. The more I got to know these women, the more fascinated I became by their ‘back stories’, specifically about the challenges they had faced or are facing whilst living away from ‘home’.
The life of an expat is often coveted. We are sometimes viewed as courageous, uprooting ourselves from the security blanket of having one’s extended family nearby to face new adventures and experiences. #LivingTheDream. Expat life can also be terrifying, emotional, confusing and challenging. We are often targeted with a specific type of ‘positivity’ when people tell us how ‘lucky’ we are. So, when we experience anxiety, stress, insomnia, even depression caused by the likes of culture shock, loneliness, rootlessness, social exclusion and bureaucracy, we sometimes feel that we should not complain. These ten female writers reveal some of the emotional upheavals and struggles that go hand-in-hand with moving away from their native ‘home’, but until now have remained largely untold. #LivingTheDream exposes the reality behind the ‘veneer’ of those ‘idyllic’ instagram posts.”
Listen to an excerpt from Carrie’s chapter ‘Grief, Loss & Belonging(s)’
Listen to an excerpt from Adrienne’s story ‘Calling Time on Drinking Culture’
Adrienne Walder spent her formative years in London scaling the career ladder at notorious multi-national advertising agencies during the day and descending into London’s finest drinking establishments by night. After 10 years, she was looking for a quieter life and moved to Hamble, a sailing village on the South Coast, where she enjoyed a slightly slower paced life. After meeting her husband and following their unsuccessful quest to become parents, they swapped the muted streetlights of their sleepy Hampshire village for the omnipresent neon glow of Hong Kong in 2013. These days Adrienne works as an English teacher and is often found out on the waters around Hong Kong, accompanied by an ice cold soda water.
Listen to an excerpt from Annabel’s chapter ‘ Poms in Thongs: An Aussie Culture Shock’
Annabel Cotton is a former teacher and radio journalist from the UK now based in Australia. She moved to Sydney in 1998, where she continued her career working at the national broadcasters ABC and SBS. She and her British husband settled on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and went on to have three children; Josh, Jamie and Ella. After some time at home, she returned to the workforce as a history guide at the site of Australia’s first Quarantine Station before changing direction to work in the library service. She now lives in the seaside suburb of Manly with her husband Dan, three children, dog Luna and cat, Fats.
Listen to an excerpt from Avivit’s Chatper ‘Married Pus Four: A trail of 4 countries’
When she manages to carve out time from being a full-on mum, Avivit Delgoshen is a TV news producer, an amateur photographer, a choir singer, a cake baker and an aspiring gardener. She studied international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has worked for global media organisations in Israel and the UK. Her eclectic musical taste links her heritage in the Middle East with her years living in European capitals. Together with her husband and four kids they are settling down in south London, the latest but not the final stop in a journey to discover the oddities of raising a bicultural family in a multicultural world.
Listen to an excerpt from Deborah’s chapter ‘Exercise Caution in Your Business Affairs’
Deborah Gray is the Managing Director of Canela, an award winning public relations company with offices in Spain and Portugal. Originally from the UK, Deborah founded Canela in Barcelona in 2006 and, in defiance of the global recession, expanded operations to Madrid in 2008 and to Lisbon in 2010. She leads a team of over twenty communications consultants who manage PR campaigns for the European Commission, Dyson, Pokémon, Sony and other household names. In 2019, Canela was awarded the honour of the Best PR Agency in Spain and in June 2020 was ranked as the 4th Best PR Agency to Work for in Europe. She lives in the countryside near Barcelona with her partner and their two Anglo-Franco-Catalan children.
Listen to an excerpt from Elizabeth’s chapter ‘Two-dimensional Dreams Versus 3D reality: Friendships & Loneliness in Rural Italy’
Elizabeth Heath is an American-born writer, editor and mom. She mostly grew up in Florida, where she studied fine art, humanities and later, archaeology. Summer trips to Italy to work on archaeological digs led her to want to make a permanent move. In 2009, she traded traffic jams and strip malls for tractors and outdoor markets when she moved to a tiny hilltown near Orvieto, Italy and married a local son. Their daughter was born in 2011. Today, she writes about travel, life in Italy, health and wellness, all from her bucolic perch up on the hill. She does, however, encounter the occasional traffic jam—of a herd of passing sheep.
Listen to an excerpt from Jane’s chapter ‘Identity: Becoming Me (again)’
Jane Mitchell has lived outside of the UK for almost 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge and experience as a mother, teacher, writer and artist living as a British expat. She lived and worked in Cairo for 8 years before obtaining a PhD from The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on the Role of Women in Egyptian Films. Since 2003 she has been based in Catalonia, Spain. Jane is Associate Director of MumAbroad.com, an English-speaking platform for the international community living in Spain, Italy, France and Germany and is also an artisan quiltmaker with a passion for all things handmade. She lives with her three children in a village on the Maresme coast, just north of Barcelona City.
Listen to an excerpt from Morag’s chapter ‘Restlessness, Rootlessness & Resilience’
Morag Makey is Australian by birth, British by marriage and Kiwi by choice. She has taken her three passports to multiple countries, creating and collecting memories along the way. In 2018 she co-founded IB Pathways, empowering students, teachers and schools in the International Baccalaureate programme. She describes her work as “the perfect intersection of education, wellbeing and global citizenship”, three aspects that have defined her life so far. Morag is always ready for new adventures and prefers the challenge of the unknown to the predictability of the known, but she may have found in Barcelona, a place that gives her both and that she can finally call ‘home’.
Listen to an excerpt from Pippa’s chapter ‘From China to the Southern French Alps:
a Single Mom’s Adoption Story’
Pippa Curtis is a mountaineer and adventurer who previously spent 20 years in London working in sustainable development as Head of Communications and now manages her rental chalet, Snowgums, in the southern French Alps, whilst raising her daughter Becky and doing freelance writing and sub-editing work. A passionate traveller, Pippa is British, French and Australian, has cycle-toured extensively in Europe and Australasia, mountaineered on four continents, and loves horse-riding safaris. Whilst single-parenting she focused on renovating her traditional mountain farmhouse and integrating into French life. Mountains continue to be her spiritual as well as actual home, and wilderness her inspiration.
Listen to an excerpt from ‘Bremain in Spain’: A Brexit Legacy’
Originally from Oxford, Sue Wilson lived in London and Cambridge, working in sales, management & training. She moved to Spain in 2007, initially to teach English as a foreign language. Sue became Chair of Bremain in Spain – a group campaigning against Brexit – shortly after the 2016 referendum. As a pro-EU activist, she has been involved in many rallies and events and has worked closely with politicians and campaigners in Westminster and Brussels. Sue was lead plaintiff in the ‘Wilson versus The Prime Minister’ (Theresa May) legal challenge, over the validity of the Brexit referendum. Sue lives in the Valencian Community with her husband and four cats, and although officially retired, campaigns full-time for the protection of British citizens’ rights across Spain and the EU.
As an expat living in Spain for 14 years, this book resonates in a way that other accounts don't. It speaks to the slices of life, good and bad, that people don't think or talk about enough, when they envision living abroad and it hit home in a very powerful and real way. It's an excellent read, beautifully written, authentic and honest and it's reassuring to hear that we're not alone in how we feel and what we experience living abroad. I highly recommend this book, these incredible women are inspirational and driven and it is a fabulous read. - Sam Mednick
#LivingTheDream Expat Life Stripped Bare is a must-read for every expat and aspiring expat woman. Woven through 10 unvarnished narratives of remarkable women are the bone-shaking, heart breaking, sometime triumphant realities of expat life. We are reminded that #LivingTheDream demands shifts in identity, hardships, breaking points, falling apart and coming together, the loss of dreams and discovery of new paths. These are the raw stories about the journey to find a place when out of place. Each account belongs to the woman who lived it, but you will find pieces of yourself and your own journey if you are an expat woman. The vulnerability, struggle and resilience will leave you inspired and comforted. Buy it and read it... you won't be able to put it down and you'll want to share it far and wide. - Leigh Matthews
Extremely refreshing and original insight into what it's really like to move and live abroad. From the impact of Brexit to losing loved ones, the experience is so different when there's a huge distance between you and where you came from. Many of us dream of making the move - reading these tales gives the good and the bad experiences. The risks, the highs and the lows and what it's really like navigating the every day when there's a language or cultural barrier. Quite addictive, you'll want to plough on through and learn more. Recommend! - Catrin Macdonnell
This is a really engaging study about women responding to variety of challenging situations . The fact that these challenges all stemmed from their expat experiences made for a very different take on life. Expat or not - this is a book that celebrates all types of women - Jane Garrard
I’m sure these stories resonate with women home and abroad. It certainly makes you feel less alone in the unique life challenges we all face - L. Vaughan
A brilliant read ladies! Thoroughly enjoyable especially as an expat myself living in Spain. I couldn't put it down! - Katherine Walkerdine
This is a fresh, honest and overall positive look at what it's like to be an Expat at the moment. Each story is about an individual woman's experience, the hopes, dreams and reality of their time abroad. As well as their positive experiences, there is a real sense of how each one has been affected by events in their personal lives, Brexit and Covid-19. Their resilience through their struggles and their determination to continue in the lives that they have chosen really come across. Highly recommended. - Miss c Imrie
Most of us wonder what it must be like to leave our rainy isle for life in more exotic climates; so this is a fascinating book. These true-life tales reveal what life is like behind the rose-tinted (sun)glasses. Warts and all. Ten women tell their stories of love, loss, struggle and success. You can only admire their openness and honesty. It made me want to meet all of them over a long, sun-soaked lunch somewhere, to hear more! A great lockdown read. - Victoria Smith
I thoroughly enjoyed reading these honest and open insights into the realities of the 'expat' lifestyle. Ten brave women have revealed their real life experiences of life away from their native homes. Each account is told through the unique voice of each woman and the issues of drinking culture, loneliness, grief, setting up a business abroad, following a partners career with children in tow and integrating into the local community are all covered. As someone who lives abroad, I could relate to so many issues raised in the different stories. I wish a book like this had been available when I first moved away from my homeland, as it would have offered so much comfort. I highly recommend reading this particularly if you live overseas or are considering a move abroad. - Nenny M.
As we grow older, we realize that there are so many people who share our pain & journey, but we don't always get to see what their journey has been like. This book reveals the real lives, stories, pain, joy, and hardships of 10 unique women in different countries. As an expat myself, I was nodding and feeling all the feels while reading some of the stories as well as learning how other brave souls have managed to turn their lives around in a foreign environment. But the waves of each story rise & fall differently. If you're not an expat, and think the life is always better on the other side - well, this will give you real insight into the highs and lows of a "lucky" life away from home. The only downside I would say - is that I wish the stories were longer and that I could understand the lives of some of the women in more detail! Highly recommended! - EdenMama
Informative, inspirational, moving and thought-provoking, this is a fascinating insight into the realities of "expat" life and living away from home. A great and varied selection of contributions from a diverse selection of writers - each with their own story to tell. It's not often that one gets to hear about life beyond the hammocks, beach bars and sundowners, so this is a great read for anyone thinking of upping sticks and living abroad. It also strikes many a chord with those of us who have already taken the plunge! - Mr. T. Maidment
This book reads as if you were sitting at a table with these 10 very different women, each telling their own story in a very personal and sometimes intimate way, sometimes so touchingly and openly. As a person living abroad, it is good to read this book and to exchange experiences again and again, even if it is "only on paper". Thank you, Carrie Frais and to all of the other brave women in this book for offering this to us. I highly recommend it - Rinus
What an amazing group of women you found to tell their stories. Fascinating and so diverse too. Great writing too. I loved the honesty and vulnerability, particularly from you and Jane. I’d like to congratulate you on your editing too. A collaborative book stands on the skill of its editor. - Jo Parfitt, Publisher
This is a great read, part advert for the wonders of travel and uprooting yourself from everything that's familiar and part warning about what you might miss. The ten women who write are an interesting cross section who provide thought-provoking stories of how they ended up scattered around the world. The best ones - the ones who make you want to sit down with them and hear more tales - are those who are frank about what they have missed out on, the families and freinds left in another country, the children and grandparents who may only meet up at most once or twice a year: Elizabeth, an American in Umbria is wonderfully honest about how lonely she can feel at times yet thinks her life has "hit the jackpot" with an Italian husband and young daughter. Overall, this book will give would-be travellers itchy feet. I grew up as an "expat" child, living in over 20 countries by the time I was 21 and this book reminds me of the extreme peaks and troughs of discovering a new culture, a new way of living. This book is a heart-warming reminder of the wonders of travel. I admire these women hugely - and envy them too. - Amazon customer
By casting away the assumption that it's not all sunshine when you move overseas, 10 women bring their different perspectives on #livingthedream as a foreigner overseas. Many at 'home' may compare a move to the 2 or 3 weeks spent 'on holiday' and believe that we get all the best bits, and none of the challenges, of life away. I think all would agree that their stories bring you a sense that distance from family, the need to find work, creating new networks and friendships and staying sane high amongst the challenges which we face. And whilst there are challenges, the life in a new country, integration, bringing up second, and sometimes third culture kids and expanding our cultural awareness does in the end make it worth #livingthedream A serial inpat having lived and worked in Australia, Spain, Middle East and Asia - Ali Meehan
Author Sue Wilson on Bremain in Spain – A Brexit Legacy on Talk Radio Europe 24.2.21:
Mia Weinberg interviews Carrie Frais on Radio Kanal Barcelona:
Jane Mitchell, Morag Makey and Deborah Gray chat to Mia Weinberg on Radio Kanal Barcelona:
Carrie Frais interviewed in Marbella’s Essential Magazine: