Expat: Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad is a collection of essays by women about their experiences in living in another country. Some are there to work or go to school, some are starting a new life and some are just looking for excitement. The topics are wide-ranging from experiencing racism to a new take on motherhood to gaining a greater understanding of a culture. Each woman embarks on a journey within herself.
Several focused on food. In A Taste of Home, Tonya Ward Singer writes about wanting to make a dish that reminds her of home, chicken soup. But in China, it’s a bit more complicated than grabbing a can off the supermarket shelf. First you select your chicken from the several squawking in a wire cage….. In A Mediterranean Thanksgiving, Take Two Mandy Dowd finds out that getting the concept of Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings across to the French is not so easy, but it makes a charming story about getting to know each others cultural differences.
One of my favorites is Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackboard by Leza Lowitz. She’s hired to teach English Literature in a Japanese university, but classes don’t go quite the way she planned. The students are respectful and obedient, but getting them to express an opinion goes against everything they’ve been taught up to now. Eventually, they learn to open up and offer insights on how literature can parallel their lives. Also their teacher learns a few things from them. In First the Blanket, Kate Baldus learns that buying a blanket in Bangladesh is not as easy as it sounds. After striking out on her first trip to the markets, a co-worker takes her. Their trip includes a hilarious rickshaw ride, but they get the blanket.
The one I liked the most was Laura Fokkena’s Watching Them Grow Up. As the wife of an Egyptian son, she, her husband and their baby girl have to travel to Egypt after her husband’s father dies. During an extended stay there, she comes to understand the beautiful way the Egyptians watch the children of the family grow up.
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