Hi everyone! We’re back with another guest post about expat life. While Mandy Lee is not technically an expat, I love her thoughts, and her creative solutions for giving her family the expat experience she wants for them. I think you’ll enjoy reading her story, and be inspired by her view of the word.
Growing up in a super small town, I couldn’t wait to see the world! As a child, my world existed within a 2 hour radius and adventure books. And although life was good and beautiful in the country…I just wanted to see the world.
We are Aspiring Expats– a family that travels to learn.
When college-time came, it was a menagerie of friends from all over the world. I started in Nashville, traveled singing with some pretty famous folks, got married, and finished college in California. Soon after we got married, my husband and I sat down to set goals for our future family. We wanted to learn all that life had to offer, so our list looked like this:
- Work abroad and travel the world.
- Fulfill our engagement commitment to adopt and birth children– assuming we can do both.
- Have adventures!
Reality…we are Aspiring Expats.
- We apply for jobs out of the country and it never happens.
- We try to adopt and have concerns, so we foster.
- We get an enormous adventure! See our Story
It reminds me of the Disney movie UP. The old man looking back at his wonderful life with his wife and how they want to go to Paradise Falls, but life just gets in the way. So… You modify.
Every single year we apply for jobs overseas, and… Nothing. Yet. So we save our money and find a way to bend around our goals. We go online and look for the best deals on flights. Then we go to Home Away Vacations for a non-tourist home and location and the best deals. We must stay minimally for a month in order to experience the culture. That means Daddy usually comes for a week or two and we stay the rest. This is our homeschool program. We begin to study the language and culture 6 months to a year in advance. Our rules are simple:
- NO STAYING IN TOURIST LOCATIONS!
- Get involved with the neighbors as much as possible.
- Dress like the locals, live like a local, and…
- Learn, learn, learn!
Thus far, we have been able to learn so much. We shop locally, and we are able to live for 4-6 weeks for less costs than our friends who do the typical tourist travels and stay for a week or two.
So far, we have:
- Gone to school in Costa Rica.
- Seen a culture of farming in every nation we have visited.
- Explored the inside of a real cockpit of a jet.
- Tried foods like yellow rambutan… and done some foraging.
- Found giant and sometimes unusual bugs (like a gargantuan, poisonous caterpillar.)
- Acquired new skills (like surfing.)
- Corrected wrong assumptions… (The Sea of Galilee is a fresh water lake!)
- Viewed amazing man-made feats, like the Panama Canal Zone locks.
Although we still haven’t obtained an expat job, we have achieved our goals in a round-a-bout way. Our children are more accepting of other cultures and definitely globally-minded. We see how God makes each culture unique and wonderful. Each nation has a different feel or spirit to it. Our goal is to grab all “the good stuff” and spread it around!
We have been able to finally adopt after fostering 7 beautiful children and birthing 3 children. So, life is not as planned, but no complaints here- it is different and fantastic!
We love And Here We Are… because it allows us to see all the wonderful things around the world through the eyes of a beautiful family: Mom, photographer, and writer. Plus we make all the great foraging recipes!
We continue to aspire to become expats and actually join a new culture- but we embrace the fact that life is full of twists, and we are thankful for all the unexpected bends and blessings we have been given! May your unexpected pathways be terrific.
Mandy Lee writes at Fostering Nutrition. Her hope is to inspire health for you and your family. Mandy is an NTP, wife and mommy who has birthed, fostered and adopted wonderful children, and wants to help empower you to eat well, live fully and give…because everyone deserves the right to BE HEALTHY and BELONG!
(Ariana here) Mandy, I love how you and your husband are finding creative ways to show your family the world, and give them a broad cultural perspective, even though you haven’t been able to live your “expat dream” yet– so inspiring!