"You are Not Alone, Really" - Coping with the Ups and Downs of Expat Life, by Andrea McKenna Brankin
Summer vacation is upon us and many of us will be packing up and heading out of Singapore for a few weeks (or months?). The expat life surely means that we end up going home at some point and mine is no exception. But I have to be honest, the vibes it brings me are not always copacetic.
I get very nervous about a variety of things, like getting enough overhead space on the plane to whether or not friends and family will be available for visits. Indeed, inserting ourselves into already-settled summer lives is not the easiest of tasks, even after I’ve been an expat for more than 10 years.
But instead of focusing on the potential negatives of packing, traveling, living out of a suitcase for weeks, managing a demanding tween and maintaining relationships at home, I’ve decided to wrap my head around exactly where these summer vibes are bringing me, as well as what other fun places others are going.
For myself, I’ll be heading back to Chicago for our annual stay at a golf resort because, well, my husband doesn’t get in enough golf. That’s a not-so-subtle jibe there. But we have a good pool and usually have a cabana party for my daughter’s July birthday. This year, I’m flying in a bestie who I played rugby with who always makes the time to see me when I’m stateside.
Next up is the obligatory East Coast trip to my hometown of Mystic, Connecticut (USA), where we indulge in the real Mystic Pizza, usually joined by my friends from Stonington High School. A visit to my sister’s rural farmhouse with her cats, dogs and chickens will be balanced out by a train trip to show my daughter, 11, New York City for the first time. We are meant to take her to a popular tween clothing store, Brandy Melville, which carries only one size. I’m interested to see what that’s about!
Rhode Island beaches and seafood is surely on the list, as my OG (original gangster) BFF from kindergarten lives there. They host a lobster fest every year at their place just for us, which is sublime at local prices.
The last two stops are on the West Coast, though not set yet. We have a gaggle of McKenna relatives, including my eldest cousin, whom I call “Chieftain,” whose family has been camped out in Seattle for many years. He’s yet to meet my husband, who amuses him with his finger-pointing in every photo online. That’s the pointer finger, BTW. I’m really hoping to be reunited with my New England Clan there.
A final hopeful plan is to spend a day in San Francisco with a 12-hour layover. As I’m writing all this, I’m feeling better and more excited about these summer vibes with the tribes!
Here’s a list of a few other places some friends are going to this summer:
British expat in Chicago, Sarah, is traveling to the Isle of Man for her Nan’s 100th birthday, as well as to tackle the “way of the gull” coastal path with her husband, friends and dog.
Thea in Singapore is heading home to beautiful Hawaii for family beach and summer activities, such as surfing lessons, traditional canoe surfing, beach volleyball and learning to farm taro.
Natalie, American Expat here married to a Frenchman, is going to be living it up in the South of France. ‘Nuff said there.
Dutch Expat Conny, who grew up in Japan but lives now in Singapore is going back in time to London to see the boy band Take That in Hyde Park. She’ll also spend a month with her daughter in Holland.
Vivian, a South Korean beauty whose husband is a Kiwi, says they try something different every year. This year, they’re giving Lombok, Indonesia a try. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of Bali should be a real treat.
Wherever you’re headed and wherever you land, I hope you’re enjoying your own summer vibes with your hometown tribes or adopted tribes if you’re traveling elsewhere. Happy Summer!