Postcards from a Wander-full Life | Expat Mama in Johannesburg

 

 

For our 10th series of Expat Mama interview stories for this year,I am excited to feature another amazing Expat Mama all the way from Sweden but making wander-full postcards from Geneva, up to her new-found home in South Africa, in the city of Gold, the eGoli, or locally known as Jo’burg–or what the world known as Johannesburg!

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Josefine is a Swede Expat Mama living abroad with her husband Tobias, her dog, London and her 1-year old adorable daughter, Claudine. She blogs about her wanderlust and travel adventures from  Switzerland/France and shares her interests on expat life, food, wine,fashion and all things beautiful. Her expat-life right  can be summed up into these words: Across the world with a baby, husband and a container full of furniture. Her Blog –Postcards from Josefine is an epitome of today’s  modern woman’s world –beautiful, whimsical, and full of zest about exploring new horizons in life as part of embracing motherhood.

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Josefine, posing for Isabell N Wedin in Chamonix 

Aside from enjoying outdoors, Josefine writes on best of both worlds! Her practical tips on Exploring a New City ,enjoying the Italian coffee and Finding those Little Gems and her OOTD’s tips for trendy outfits are worth checking out. Josefine is a natural model and posted for a photoshoot with her childhood friend  Isabell N Wedin, a Malmö (swe) photographer |Harvest Agency. One of her bohemian flair photoshoot is shown in one of the worlds best photography museums – Fotografiska .

 

If you’re a jetsetter as well as have a dog and wanted to bring your dog to Geneva then you might find her tip on travelling with Pets Here.

Josefine’s Background 

I was born in a tiny village in southern Sweden where the forests where dense, the fields endless and the freedom was absolute. I was born as child number three in a line of four siblings. My world revolved around the horse farm where I grew up, school and my friends and the walls of my room was covered with posters of horses, Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys. I vividly remember the smell of fresh hay in the summers, the warmth of a horseback underneath me riding through the snow and gazing up at the stars in winter, hours and hours spent in the stable with my friends. Everything outside of my little village felt extremely far away, even Denmark that was within an hour from us felt very exotic and distant.

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Taking it slow, savoring life’s goodness

It was first when I was 13 years old and my sister moved to London for a year that I realized that there was a world outside of my little bubble. The longing of getting away grew stronger and stronger. At 17 I went to Italy to work in a stable outside of Venice for a couple of weeks, at 24 I did the research for my Bachelor’s essay in Bombay, India. At 25 I started working for as Relocation Consultant in Stockholm, helping families moving to Sweden with everything from housing to bank account, registrations and schools. The same year I met my husband and shortly after we met we started dreaming about moving abroad together. A year into our relationship he was sent to Johannesburg, South Africa for 5 months. I stayed in Stockholm for work but visited him for a month and he proposed. Shortly after we got married and then we moved together to Geneva where he had signed a new job contract for one of the banks. I got pregnant during our time in Geneva and as we lived on the French side of the border, spent a lot of our time in Switzerland and I had my midwife in Sweden it was truly a challenge because of different cultures and recommendations.

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Exploring the Cape of good hope and Cape town with a Toddler!
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Beautiful journey through Motherhood

On wearing the harmony ball and Längtan

A gift from my mother is a beautiful necklace with a pendant harmony ball. The harmony ball has the inscription “Längtan”, Swedish for ‘longing for’ or ‘to long for’ which is very suitable as we really are longing for this baby to arrive.Harmony Ball Pendants worn as necklaces have been used in various cultures for centuries by pregnant women and hence harmony balls are often called pregnancy harmony ball pendants. Pregnant women in Bali and Mexico are known to have traditionally worn these harmony balls when pregnant.
A Harmony Ball typically is made from sterling silver and contains a small bell-like item that emits very subtle but audible chimes with movement, not unlike the sound of wind charms in a very soft breeze.
It is said that from about 16-20 weeks into the pregnancy that the unborn baby will hear the soft chimes sound coming from the harmony ball.

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The privilege of raising a little girl in another culture!

On when Life give you lemons…go for the next adventure!

When Claudine was 3 months my husband called from work and the bank he was working for was cutting down on consultants which meant that he only had one more month of work there. My world totally fell apart. I loved the little French village we lived in and my friends there and I totally didn’t want to move, especially not with a three-month old baby. The next couple of months we mentally moved to six different countries in three different continents and when we finally signed the contract for Johannesburg, South Africa I had already cried for a week just thinking about moving to the other side of the world, far from everyone and everything I knew. Becoming a mother changed me more than I ever could have imagined. What pre-baby would have been an adventure that would have made my heart skip a beat and the blood run faster in my veins now totally scared the crap out of me.

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Baby wearing is the best way to explore with a Baby!

On the reality Bites of an Expat Life

Being an expat and a mother is great! I’m so lucky to be able to spend so much time with my baby girl and our whole life is an adventure! To meet new people, to see new places and to get new perspectives. I’ve grown so much as a person these last couple of years abroad. We’ve also grown  much closer as a family after relocating as you really have to be a team to make it! However, I’m not going to lie – this kind of life has its challenges. Relocating can be stressful, scary and lonely. Every time Claudine learns something new, every time she gets taller, gets a new tooth or says new words I wish my family back home could see her evolving. Next time they’ll see her it’s been 6 months since the last time we met and it sometimes makes me sad that they’ve missed out on so much.

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Postcard from South Africa
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Enjoying the scenic landscapes and the South African sun

On Life in Johannesburg

There’s absolutely pro’s and con’s living as an expat mom in Johannesburg. The biggest con with living here I must say is safety. We live in an extremely safe estate with high walls and to get in you need to swipe your finger. They say living here is safer than the Buckingham Palace and so far I can’t disagree. However, you’re very aware of things going on in this town as you hear new stories everyday about people getting robbed etc. I’m always very aware of safety when I leave the estate. I always put my bag where it’s not visible in the car, never wear jewelry and would never ever take my eyes of my baby when outside of these walls. It’s very different to live here compared to Europe and the inequalities in the society is huge, you have people living in shacks next to luxury estates. We could never go anywhere with public transportation but have to take the car everywhere and you would never walk outside of the estate. I miss just being able to go outside and go for a leisurely stroll, walk around without a plan, maybe stop by at a coffee shop for a take away coffee or a shop that has a sale.

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At Bois Cheri Tea plantation in Mauritius

On Johannesburg for Babies

We managed to sign Claudine up for four different activities a week – swimming twice a week, Bouncing Bunnies (gymnastics for babies) and Music Box (music and dance class). She loves all the activities and she’s having so much fun with the other babies! She’s at a stage right now where she screams of excitement as soon as she see’s another kid, haha! It might sound crazy to put a 15 month old in swim school but considering how much time you spend in the water in this heat it’s really good to teach them early! Claudine is already kicking, going under the surface, climbs out of the pool and last week she took her first swim strokes – need I say this was one proud mama?!

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One fine winter day full of sunshine in Jo’burg!

On breaching the South African Culture

The biggest pro’s are definitely the weather! The sun is always shining and you spend lots of time outdoors. There’s so much activities here for kids and a lot of kiddie friendly restaurants with playgrounds. All expats I know have a helper that takes care of the house and babysits, it’s also a way to give back to the community. The South Africans we’ve had the pleasure to get to know are very much alive and live for the moment. They are very open-hearted, generous and welcoming – the total opposite of people in Sweden and Switzerland. There’s always something new to do or to see – restaurants, markets, lion parks, mountain biking, horseback riding, golf or just enjoying the sunshine and taking a dip in the pool.

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Claudine’s bonding times with Daddy!

On making an impact as an Expat Mama

When we left Europe earlier this year I was on the plane with insomnia so I watched Out of Africa. In that movie Meryl Streep keeps repeating the phrase ”I had a farm in Africa”. This has kind of become my mantra and everytime it feels difficult to be here, everytime the home-sickness lingers over me I think of this phrase. One day I’ll think back on the time we lived in Africa and I know I won’t regret it. We try to enjoy this moment as much as we can as we know it’s not forever. One day we’ll move back to Europe but the experience and the memories will stay with us forever. I will think back on the time when I had exotic birds in my garden, that I once almost hit a wild peacock on the way to swim school, that there are lions just a 10 minute drive from us (well, well, in a fenced in park but still), that because we’re here we can support the locals with job opportunities, that I had a fundraising to support a local organization who helps exposed women and children in the neighbouring township and that I’ve managed to start a life on the other side of the world.

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Follow Josefine to get updates on what is trendy & chic comfy outfits for those who are expecting and always on the go !

A Wanderer who had once a restless nomadic soul finally finds HOME…

I also know that my restless soul has found my place in life, it’s not a geographic spot it’s with my little family.

P.S

All photos and images are owned by Josefine & Postcards from Josefine’s Blog. Should you wish to use it please kindly inform the owner. 

If you wish to get to know more of Josefine and her OOTD & Fashion- Life hacks for Mommy’s out there, you can check out her Instagram and follow her Blog-Postcards from Josefine.

Have you enjoyed this post?  Make sure to check out our other Expat Mamas & Papa stories in The Netherlands, Kuwait, Philippines, Thailand, Berlin , Saudi Arabia , China , Italy  and of course, how a German-Finnish Expat Papa take on how to Raise a Kung Fu Baby in Germany .

We have 10 amazing stories of different Expats mamas & Papa for 2016. I am looking forward to have another series of stories next year so stay tuned!

Make sure to follow Justbluedutch & Pinays in Germany  for more of my  Expat stories  and Hey, if you are an Expat Mama, you might want to be featured in this Blog for our series on Expat Mamas around the World! Drop me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com.

Are you on Twitter?  follow me on my  Twitter  and my Instagram  for more updates on my Expat Life in Bavaria.Thank you for reading friends!

A day in the life of a Dutch Kid

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I want to ride my bicycle , Queen is certainly right!

 

I’ve been reading a lot about the acclaimed ‘Why Dutch kids are the happiest Kids in the World’ as it was sensationally supported by Experts who study  about this subject and made some interesting statistics. I was even more thrilled  when Rina Mae Acosta, a Filipino-American freelance writer and the Blogger behind ‘Findingdutchland‘ , who also happens to be married to a Dutch guy, recently published her book–” The Happiest Kid in the World“, Bringing up children the Dutch way. There’s something about this subject that resonates my interest on Dutch culture and oh well, their crazy ways.

This triggered my curiosity , and made me wonder if it was really the case in a normal, average, Dutch childhood.  Are Dutch kids really happy? What’s the measure of their happiness since I find the subject of Happiness being subjective. I am also raising one Dutch kid, but the thing is, we don’t live in the Netherlands, we live in Germany and she is growing up in a German environment.

Does it mean that my daughter grow up less-happy? or what?

As the old adage say ; ask a local and you’ll get real answers, or better, get to know one!

So one fine morning while we sit in the table for breakfast, I say it’s a fine one since I was able to sip my coffee before the toddler wakes up. I chatted with one former Dutch kid. I’m talking about one particular Dutchie who lives under one roof with me : my Husband , a.k.a BlueDutch.   

Husband’s reply really made sense :

It’s simple. We don’t like complicated things. Everything is simple.So we are happy, I was a contented kid and I had a happy childhood and even now as an Adult, I am living a simple life, but a happy one.

Does doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg or  just act normal, that’s already crazy enough, rings a bell?

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Cleaning the fields from dog poop has never been so much fun!

Less is really more for the Dutch

My husband is the third child of a family of 3 children. He is the only boy and this alone makes him the apple of the eye of the whole family. He was born in a cold December night 2 weeks overdue for his birth. As a true Dutch protegé, he was born in their home, a typical way of giving birth in the Netherlands. His mother, my amazing Mother-in-law is strong, and one proud Mama who is very hands on to her children. He learned to stand in his Baby Playpen box in their living room which is another typically Dutch in raising children. Dutch parents normally put their babies in this box in the early days up to the time he can’t walk yet. In it were toys,and other things for the baby to play on, spacious enough to wiggle and convenient for mothers while doing other chores.

He grew up riding ponies, playing in the sand pit, and getting dirty as most kids do. He began taking swimming lessons at the age of 6, basking in the beach,and watching Top cat after school. A typical dutch kid is baptized into “Dutchness“with two important things : Riding a bike & playing football (or Soccer in America).

As what Holland is famous for, He eats Hagelslag since he is allowed to eat solids. Oh yes, did you know that Hagelslag is chocolate sprinkles in solid form? He still eat Hagelslag up until now, we have boxes of this precious sprinkles courtesy of my generous parents in law. It’s a big panic if we ran out of this ‘staple‘. He had to share this now with my daughter who also devour toast covered in sprinkles.Everyday. He grew up developing a serious fondness with ‘Patat‘ and the magic meat balls (Gehaktballen)  his mother makes. This is normally eaten with boiled potatoes (again!) and some beans and gravy or pepper sauce. I successfully  stole this recipe  to continue the meat balls saga in our family. He is Dutch but he denies the existence loathes  of cheese and eggs. Sometimes I think he is just pretending to be Dutch! He can eat Pannekoek for dinner,enjoys Drop with delight, and drink chocolate milk more than he drinks water.

Just like any typical Dutch kids, he played enormously with his Duplos, wooden blocks, & his beloved Lego. He had a wooden bike which he got when he was 1-year-old and this has been passed on to our daughter along with his wooden plate with his name engraved on it. I find Dutch’s simplicity navigates to their source of worry-free happiness, take for example Dick Bruna’s Ninjtje (or Miffy ). A symbol of a cartoon character so simple and yet so good, without the complicated animation. Celebrating birthdays as a kid is more of a family celebration. It’s enjoyed with simple ‘Taart‘ and sitting in circles  with friends and family. There is no pressure of throwing off a grand party either.

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Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Piets

Dutch kids indeed have an enchanting childhood. Now who wouldn’t be thrilled when Sinterklaas comes on 5th of December. The sight of Kruidnoten, Spekulaas, Marzipan, and the yummy chocolate letters are everywhere. Typical dutch kids are showered with gifts and threats on this day. Sinterklaas is celebrated favorable in the Netherlands than Christmas. The sight of the  Zwarte Piets  (Black Peter’s ) seemed perfectly normal for all Dutch kids where it could be a daunting sight for others.

Growing up, he was also brought up visiting his Oma frequently, (Dutch for Grandmother). Grandparents are a big part of Dutch culture. It’s very typical for dutch kids to spend time & have a healthy connection with their Omas & Opas. The  feeling of security and being well-taken-cared off comes naturally among Dutch kids since it all starts from their family.

Once a year they go on a holiday as a whole family and here you can see that travelling is part of a humble Dutch culture. My husband has 8 thick photo albums filled with vacation photos and stories of his childhood. He climb mountains and earn medals for Wandern , going on a sled in winter, visiting castles,exploring the gorges, or just roasting having barbecue in their backyard during summer.

What I have also learned about my husband’s childhood is  the unique approach on education in the Netherlands. Homework is unusual in Dutch primary schools and students have one afternoon a week off school ( usually on Wednesday)  which means kids have lots of time and space to be … Kids. Spending their childhood without worries.They only have homework in their Topography subject where they learn about cities, rivers & countries.

Dutch children are given lots of autonomy and the freedom to explore, while parents aren’t burdened with the expectation that their child has to be the best in order to succeed. This made me gasp since my childhood is totally different from him. Remembering that in Philippines, kids have huge backpacks filled with books and we always have homework. Even preschoolers! Imagine the early strain on kids having the high expectation to excel and achieve more than what the average kids does.

Based on these, I could sum up that growing up in a Dutch household is pretty awesome. His own story of childhood and growing up ‘doe maar normaal makes him the relaxed, easy-going person He is right now. I presumed that the big factor why Dutch kids are simply happy apart from the significant aspects that the studies have proven, is because their parents are  also happy.  Statistics have shown that Dutch women and Kids tops it all but I can only write about Dutch people who I knew. Maybe the daily  doses of drop, stroopwafels and Bitterballen adds to their vigor and their adrenaline boost is the result of their bodies intertwined with their bicycles. Believe me, they don’t have the time to worry, because their time is already spent discussing about the weather, making their agendas and shopping for orange clothes!

With Dutch, less is simply becoming more.

How can  you describe your childhood in one word? Feel free to share!

Pinay’s journey to Motherhood in the land of Smiles |Expat Mama in Thailand

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Meet the Rochanaroons ; Journey of one Expat-mama in the Land of Smiles.

Do you believe in College campus romances?

I mean it’s the  time when skinny jeans is not yet the fad and girls don’t shape their eyebrows. Not yet. College campus days are days where you began to dream about your future, exploring your own defenses and suddenly you met the love of your life.Like  a modern fairy tale where you actually end up with each other,sharing a journey together, and realizing that you are living out a dream, like  serendipity… An answered prayer.

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Seascape Love at Hua Hin, Thailand

This is the story of Rann, a Pinay Expat in Thailand. Her exciting story being one Expat Mama is our next feature for our Expat Mamas around the World series. This modern fairy tale story and journey to Motherhood is set in the Land of Smiles in Asia, Thailand. Known for its exotic  beautiful beaches and rich culture, It’s no surprise that my  friend from Campus days, Rann, moves her marriage and lives there for almost a decade now  with her husband, Pin, (who is a Thai-Filipino) and their two adorable sons, Elijah (7 ) and Luke (1).Together they search for family- friendly getaways, indulging in kaleidoscope of Buddist temples and shrines, chasing white elephants and eating too much Chia seeds.

Here’s my Interview story with Rann , her own Expat Mama story :

A Pinay’s journey to Motherhood in the land of Smiles

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All wide smiles in the land of Smiles

Rann’s Background

Rann is a lover of books, a Bibliophile all year  round. A certified book shop-hopper as well as fashionable baby-wearer. A Preschool teacher and a super Mom 24/7.

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A Bibliophile’s ultimate dream : Spending a day with books in a cozy place & of course, a warm cup of coffee!

Born & raised in the Philippines, she developed her love for Diversity when she married her campus sweetheart, Pin,  while both studying in the University of the Philippines. They got  married in 2006 and eventually hop on the Expat life & move her marriage to Thailand.  Rann is a coffee drinker and has a habit of ‘Procaffeinating‘, or a.k.a not starting anything unless she had her coffee.

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University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus : The place where it all begun.
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Buddhism as part of everyday life in Thailand.

A glimpse of Thailand from an Expat eyes

While being on a steady dating for years, Rann already had a hindsight that moving to Thailand is no surprise anymore. Either for marriage or Work, Thailand is a great destination for  Filipino Teachers which has very good command in English. It is  a famous travel destination for tourists and a magnet for Expats from all over the world. The Buddhist culture of this country is a prominent identity . At the heart of everything, there are shrines, temples, and monasteries known as ‘wats’. Buddhism is an essential part of the Thai culture.

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Physically & Emotionally integrated in Thai’s culture

On Bangkok as a very hectic capital

Our home is in a province 100 kms away from Bangkok. We love that we are not too close but not too far from the capital city (and the airport!). Bangkok is a totally diverse place mixed in with the religious landmarks and is one of the world’s most hectic capitals. The traffic is crazier than Manila. Bangkok is a strobe-like city, where motorways have 12 lanes, markets have upward of 15,000 stalls, and restaurants are so concentrated, you’ll never be more than 50 metres away from one. Talking about living in a cosmopolitan who never sleeps at night.

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A Pinay’s journey to Motherhood  (Escapades in Nong nooch tropical Garden )

Although we are not in the big city, we have everything we need here. There are places to bring the children to, good schools to go to, hospitals with superb service, it is safe and clean. I do not at all miss the pollution from the big city.

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Floating Market 
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James Bond island – Beautiful coast and Beach culture of Thailand

On having Quiet times and date nights as couple

Being married for almost a decade now is a milestone. Ten years are not just a number, it’s a lot of hard work,  making each day  a spur on our marriage. With Pin’s demanding job in the medical field, I have learned to protect our marriage. As an Expat, I have seen examples of living abroad without their spouses & children. I am grateful that we are together as a family here in Thailand. Having  a preschooler & and an active toddler didn’t hinder us from having Quiet times together and having same ‘Rock foundation’  that keep us close.

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A working Mama who knows how to enjoy – Don’t forget that you are woman too, a friend, and a Sister.

On Thai’s way of greeting others

I’ve learned how to greet with the head bowed over clasped hands (wai), and not to use body language so much as most Thai people keep their heads, shoulders and arms very still.You also wai to say Thank you. Almost same as in my home culture, showing proper respect is a huge aspect of Thai culture.

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Pink and Yellow sheep in the Sheep Farm -A child’s Haven for learning

On being a working Mother of a child with special needs

It becomes my number one priority to be the Teacher for my sons. I believe that it shouldn’t matter how slowly a child learns as long as we, as parents, and first Teacher to them, are encouraging them not to stop. This is not just a chore for me nor comes with a paycheck. What I teach in school came from theoretical study approach but with your own child, it’s totally hands-on,by mother’s instinct, a pure labor of love.

Since I am a preschool teacher by profession, with a degree from the University of the Philippines on Child Development and graduate courses on Early Childhood Education.  I have been teaching pre-kindergarten in an international school for the past 10 years. Prior to that, I was a preschool teacher for three years in the Philippines. I got paid for teaching young kids,shaping them in their early years. But the time I’ve got to squeeze time to be a wife and mother with my sons, it’s priceless.

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Mothers are the first Teachers for their children

I am a mom of two boys, 7 years and 1 year old. My older son (E) is a gifted, loving boy with social and language challenges while the younger boy (L) is showing a strong personality but is equally sweet like his brother. No, I am not planning on having more kids. I have two hands, so I will have two kids. My husband, being in the medical field, is not always home  so I am often on my own with the kids. So 2 is just perfect.

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Family comes first,in everything.

Share something about the current country you are living in and notable aspects of life.

On learning the Thai language

Thailand is a very interesting country. Some might  think there won’t be much of a difference as it’s also a South East Asian country like mine — but there are huge differences. Arriving here 10 years ago, the language barrier was overwhelming for me. How can I ever learn this language when I can’t read it? Learning Tagalog is easy because if you know your ABC, then you can read it. Not with Thai. It is also a tonal language so there are words than can mean 5 different things, depending on the tone you use. As I’ve learned to speak the language, it has become better. It is still a challenge sometimes (like explaining what you’re feeling in the hospital, getting things done in the bank, requesting for information, etc.) but I am able to understand enough  to get by each day. I am still hoping to formally learn the language but that has been on hold since kids started arriving.

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Setting your foot firmly : On Living and Loving Thailand

On why Thai food is loved internationally

The food here is great! Well, I am speaking from an Asian point of view — I love my carbs (they eat rice, too — hooray!!). Authentic Thai food is one of the best. I needed sometime to get used to the smell of some food but overall, food here is the best. I do miss my  Adobo and my Bangus every now and then but it helps that you can basically cook the same Filipino delicacies as most of the ingredients can be found locally. There are plenty of Asian shops where you can get the ingredients.

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On importance of Education and learning comfortably

Growing up in the busy and populated Manila and spending many years in Manila’s business district, I am very happy that we are in a more laid-back city here in Thailand. I am happy that we are not raising the kids in a condo in a high rise building in Bangkok. My kids can run outside, play with neighbors, swim anytime, touch the grass, pick up stones nearby or enjoy the beach every now and then. We have international schools around and since I am teaching in one, my kids have the opportunity to study here for free. We can only be grateful. Sending them in a Thai school is something I will not do. I believe children learn best when they are in an environment they are comfortable in, a place where they feel they belong, a place that do not put too much pressure or expecting too much from them. The Thai system is very traditional. My son, being with special needs, cannot possibly thrive in a Thai school.

On Pregnancy, Maternity Fashion and Giving Birth

When I was pregnant with my first son, we were just new in Thailand. And since we are an hour away from Bangkok,  I didn’t know where to get stuff (for baby and for pregnancy) in this side of Thailand. It helped that I was skinny then. I just got my clothes from the regular ladies’ section but got them  a size bigger. Pregnant Thai women love to wear tent-like dresses. Not all, but most. Even in their first trimester, they are already wearing dresses that can accommodate 3 of my preschoolers. I knew from the start that I will never wear one of those! Six years after, while pregnant with my second son, I knew better. I brought maternity clothes from home and from the US.  For many traditional Thai, they believe that you’re having a healthy pregnancy when you’re big. I was skinny until my 7th month. I remember my husband’s aunt saying “You might have a very small baby, you don’t look pregnant at all.” My son was born at 3.8 kgs and 51 cm long. Not small at all.

They have lovely hospitals here so I had a pleasant birthing experience. You do need to find a good doctor who speaks good  English, not just some English. I was lucky to have my sister in both deliveries to help me with the baby while I was still sore.

On having a Hired help 

Raising the kids away from my country is not easy. I guess it has its advantage as well  — you get to do your thing — but predominantly, it’s a challenge. It is very hard to find help (nanny) that you can trust with your kids and your home in a country where you can’t speak, read or write their language. I’ve been lucky to have a lovely trustworthy lady from the Philippines as well but there’s always that anxious thought  that one day, she will have to leave and move on with her life as well.

On Thais being clannish and living together as a Family

They have certain ways of raising kids here that are very Asian and some are uniquely Thai. For one, the children are so used to being fed even when they’re already 3, 4 or 5! Also, many children grow up with their parents, grandparents and a nanny at home. These children grow up not being independent and self-reliant. They are used to having people do things for themselves. This is somewhat same back home. It is a struggle to make sure even with help around, I want my kids to grow up not feeling entitled and not being able to care for themselves.

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The benefits of growing as a Third Culture Kid

What is your opinion about raising your kid as a third culture kid?  Are you happy that you are raising an Expat Kid?

I am happy that they will grow up being exposed to different cultures and languages. It is my hope that with this, they will grow up respecting these differences. At the same time, it is my hope that they will grow up being aware of their very own culture. It breaks my heart that my older son does not speak my native language (Tagalog) but I have to choose my battle. He didn’t speak until he was 3 so I am just grateful for the fact that he speaks a lot now, although just in English.

My husband being half-Thai, I consider my kids “third culture” but at the same time, not so  “third-culture” kids. At the end of the day, whether third culture or not, I believe the values they need to learn does not change.

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Make an impact in your own child’s life and you’re making impact in the world .

How do you make an impact as an Expat Mama in your country of residence?

To respect the culture they have but be secure of what I am and who I am, learn what I can learn from their culture but at the same time share what I can share from my own culture. I believe that as long as I can make an impact to my own children, then I am making an impact to the society we are in. In raising quality kids, I am contributing for a better generation in the future.

 

Thank you so much RA for sharing your wonderful Expat Mama story with me. Your life is beautiful because you are one beautiful soul inside & out. It is a pleasure to be in your circle.

P.S  All photos are owned and courtesy of Rann. Should you wish to use it, please mention or inform her. You can follow more of her Expat Teaching stints in her Facebook  and her Life as a Super Mom in her Instagram Page.

Did you enjoy this post?

Are you an Expat Mama and would like to share your own Expat Mama story with us? Drop me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow  other Expat Mama Stories  around the World . Follow my Twitter page and my Instagram page for updates on my Expat Life in Bavaria .

 

 

 

 

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Expat-Mama in Kuwait

Today, Sept. 12, the whole Muslim community around the world is celebrating one of the holy festival in Islam, known as ‘Eid al-Adha’( or the Feast of Sacrifice). Eid -al-Adha is a festival that marks the end of the Hajj -an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that lasts three to four days. The Koran recommends all Muslims make the journey    (or Umrah)  at least once in their lifetime. Worshippers typically slaughter an animal like a goat or sheep. Imagine close to 10 million animals are slaughtered in Pakistan on Eid, how about on other countries?

So in time of Eid-al-Adha festivity, for our next Expat Mama around the World series, you will get to know more of surprising facts about motherhood in  Kuwait especially from a Muslim Expat-mama perspective.  Kuwait is a  Muslim country  where there are 2.4 Million Expats  despite that the summer heat could rise up to 50 degrees and where oil is cheaper than water.

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Rechiel’s Story : An Expat Mama  Raising  her third- Culture kids with core values of Islam. (Photo credit: Aysha Aldrini)

 

There are roughly 180,000 Filipinos living and working as an OFW ( Overseas Contract Worker) ,in Kuwait and Rechiel is one of them. She left the Philippines for work  since 2003, so basically, she lived more than a decade in the Middle East, imagine that!  Kuwait has been her 2nd home for a long time now. Surprisingly, she and I happen to go at same school in High School.  (which I only found out later when she told me) She is a dear friend of mine and here she shares her Expat Mama Story :  A Muslim Expat Mama journey to Motherhood in Kuwait.

Rechiel’s Background

Rechiel is a Filipino Expat Mama of 3, and working in Kuwait for almost 13 years now in a Shipping/Logistics Company. Unexpectedly, she found love and eventually got married to her Egyptian husband ,Wasim, who is also an Expat in Kuwait. They have 3 beautiful daughters namely  Cha, Salma & Maryam. She is an active member of the Anchors Toastmaster’s Club in Al Bader Company. She loves  swimming,photography , and Karaoke of course!

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Kuwait sunset from the Arabian Gulf 

On converting to Islam and raising her kids in Islamic faith

Rechiel converted to Muslim faith from the time that she married her Muslim husband. It was not a mandatory requirement, nor a legal prerequisite for marriage of Non-Muslim & Muslim but it is her personal decision to revert from Christianity to Islamic faith. By changing her views on spirituality and faith, she dressed up in modesty as  Muslim women should be, she changed her lifestyle and start to wear Hijab. For her, doing this  shows her total submission to her husband and abiding the teachings of Allah from Qúran.

Here’s my Interview-Story of her as an example of a down-to-earth  Expat-Mama who is raising her children with Filipino, Egyptian and Muslim values in Kuwait.

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Expat Kids  and Expat Mama

 

Tell us About your Background

My name is Rechiel, I’m the from Philippines and came to Kuwait as an OFW ( Overseas Contract Worker) . I got married, and gave birth of my 2 girls in Kuwait. I am literally living for more than a decade in the Middle East now. It’s been a challenge for me to work full-time at the same time being a mother to a teenager, and 2 more girls. It’s like working round-the clock. From the moment I got home, I spend productive time with my kids but cannot spare anything more than an hours’ time. My interest has always been photography but I do not have time on hand to pursue my interest owing to other responsibilities. I do not know when, but one day I definitely will find time to pursue my interest. It is hard being a mother ,that is a fact, but my life is totally rewarding raising them.

Share something about the current country you are living in and notable aspects of life from an Expat Mother point of view.

On Culture Shock and Arabic language

Kuwait is one of the most prominent countries of the GCC and like all other middle eastern countries has a lot of expats from all parts of the world working and living with their families. Culturally , I found Kuwait to have much Asian influences. There are lots of Filipino/Asian stores so when it comes to food, I felt like I am in the Philippines. In my work, there are also plenty of Filipino colleagues, so basically, I didn’t have much hard time adjusting. Believe it or not, I understand Arabic , but up to this time, I know I still need to make great effort to learn it. When you have kids and needs help with their Arabic homework, you just feel motivated to learn. My kids go to  International school where different nationalities so there is always a great culture mix-up. At home, we speak English  and Arabic so my children are all bilingual.

On the other hand, my husband being from the Mediterranean region (Egyptian) ,He, too feels very much comfortable to be living in Kuwait. But nowadays he too got confused with the living status here.We have plans to move to Alexandria but still the plans are not that concrete. Being an Islamic country Kuwait has a typical living conditions for women outside their homes. We are Muslims, so  socializing is restricted when it comes to interacting with other groups of men and women.

On leisure activities for family and Kids in Kuwait

Kuwait is a desert country, with a hot climate.There are not much greenery like in the Philippines or in Egypt. I got used to the living conditions here even when I was still single but as a family ,we make it a point to enjoy the outdoors when it is not too hot. I am thankful that at least we have the beach for us to have picnics & for the kids to play in the sand or swim. As parents, visiting the Aqua parks, amusement parks, public parks, cinemas, shopping malls, museums, science centers and all such institutions are my favorite spots in Kuwait  since both me & my kids can enjoy.

On Arab culture criticism for being Lax at Parenting

I grew up in the Philippines where courtesy & politeness is being taught at a young age. We say “Po & Opo”and respecting the elders is a vital trait. We even have GMRC ( Good Manners & Right Conduct ) subject included in the curriculum. Here in Kuwait,one unusual culture that I don’t like is when an Arab mother tolerate their kids to disrespect them in front of others. Kids are yelling at them if they don’t give something that they wanted. This is very prevalent in malls & restaurants. The teenagers are such a bully . It disturbs me at the same time challenging for me to see that my kids are exposed to multi cultural diversity and how to keep them on the right track.

How is it being pregnant, giving birth and raising your child away from your home country. Or relocating with your kids to another country? What are the adjustments, struggles & rewards you’ve made?

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Salma, her second daughter on her 1st Birthday -Little Filipino-Egyptian Princess

On Pregnancy, Child Birth and Post-Partum Care

For me, It was nothing unusual being pregnant and giving birth to kids in Kuwait as the country has a well-equipped hospitals and gives utmost importance to health care. It is much cheaper and affordable to gave birth here compared to the Philippines. The hospital that I went to was efficient and took care of me during my Caesarean operation up to my post- partum care. I could imagine that if I gave birth in Philippines then this type of service is very expensive. Pregnancy in Kuwait is also different since Kuwait has extensive Prenatal care and taking care of a newborn comes easy for me with the help of my husband and close friends. My work  even allowed me to have paid Maternity leave. Vaccination of newborns and toddlers are also within reach, very accessible.

On giving birth alone in the Public Hospital

If you gave birth in a public hospital in Kuwait, you can’t see your husband or others , not right before you gave birth. I feel very blessed to have a very supportive and able husband who arranged everything for me and make it easy for me during the time I was giving birth up to the time I am recovering. It is a normal convenience to have a “Kadama”( maid) in Kuwait so I felt lucky to have such extra help.Even without my immediate families from the Philippines, I did not have a hard time.

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Maryam, Rechiel’s youngest child (Raising a Third Culture Kid in Kuwait )

 

On expensive cost of Visa& Residency papers and Tuition fees

Although many things quite cheap in Kuwait, the high cost of living as an Expat family could make a toll on Expats here in Kuwait. The bureaucracy about paper works for a newborn to get residency and visa is quite complicated. It’s a good thing that my husband is well-versed on Arabic and  in the in& outs  being a  Mandoup , ( A liason officer and official representative of a company to transact business & paperworks in the ministries in Kuwait ) so it goes quite easy. For a non-arabic speaker & Expats, this is a big problem and takes time. Aside from the visa fee 100kd ( approx. 300 Euros/ 330 $USD) for 1 year residency  plus another 50kd ( 170 $ USD/ 150 Euros ) for Health Insurance, it is costly for an average family with 3 kids that you need to renew every year. Adding up the expenditures are the visa fees for parents, expensive tuition fees, flat rental and utilities. I knew many Expat families chose to let their kids study in Philippines or in their home country instead of expensive schools in Kuwait. Yes, gas is cheap & affordable in Kuwait but maintenance of a car is also costly.This is the reality of the cost of living as an Expat.

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Joining Walk for a cause and Socio-activities in Kuwait with friends .

On having Fewer friends and Mommy-practicality

When you’re an Expat,  got married and have kids– your lifestyle turns 360 degrees change. You have fewer friends, and limited time to socialize because your priorities changed. I knew many friends in Kuwait but being an Expat Mama, my days are filled with family, work & little time for myself. I guess, this is the consequence. I can’t even have the latest fashion & cosmetics out in the market, not because I can’t afford it, but I become practical and go beyond the material value.

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An Expat mama journey to Motherhood, from Philippines, to Kuwait to Egypt to United Arab Emirates.

What is your say about raising your kid as a third culture kid?

I am raising Filipino-Egyptian kids in a Kuwaiti environment. My kids love Adobo at the same time eat Kubz everyday, adores Kebab,Biryani, and mostly Egyptian dishes. They can speak both Tagalog, English and Arabic. Raising a Third-Culture Kid is both challenging and fascinating because for example, in school they are exposed to different cultures and social media is a big influence too. At their young age, I try my best to teach them important core values we have at home so they remain open-minded & flexible.

How do you make an impact as an Expat Mama in your country of residence?

I’m thankful that my work have given me the chance & exposure to contribute my views. I feel honored when I got the chance to have a Speech about the role of Women as mothers in the society. It is a great privilege that a Filipino like me could have a chance to make an impact in my work, and being a  Muslim now gives me the respect from the community we belong to.When an Arab person approaches me and makes comment about how I am raising such adorable kids, it is more than money can buy. A true happiness any mother wants to have.

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Being an Expat-Mama is a privilege. It gives me the chance to raise my child in a competitive world to prepare them in their  future. It’s not always a glamorous life, but it sure does the best life I want. Wherever we are, either in Kuwait, Philippines or in Alexandria, home is where me & my family stands close to each other, and that’s what matters most.

 

Thank you Rechiel for this wonderful story of your life as an Expat Mama. It is a pleasure being your friend and this post is for you and your family and  Eid Mubarak !

 

 

Did you enjoy this post?  Follow my Expat -Mama stories in my Twitter and Instagram.

Are you an Expat Mama? Do you want to be featured in this series? Feel free to send me an email at justbluedutch@gmail.com .

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Expat-Mama in The Netherlands

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The Dutch Life : Where canals are never-ending and Amsterdam is a city that never sleeps. 

For our first feature on my new Blog section —Expat Mama around the World, Get to know one amazing Expat Mama from The Netherlands, Ann, the Blogger behind the Grubbs ‘n Critters  who shares her Expat Mama story about living in the land of beautiful canals, Van Gogh, delicious cheese, wind mills & clogs.

Ann currently lives in The Netherlands with his Dutch husband 2 kids and 2 cats. She’s a Baker, Innovator,  Homemade cooking enthusiast, a Globetrotter, and a serious coffee addict.

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The Grubbsncritters Family (Photo credit -Grubbsncritters)

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How does she manage to raise her kids in the cycling capital of the world?  Here’s my Interview- story  with her – “An Expat Mama journey to Motherhood in a foreign country.”

Tell us about your background .

I hail from a tiny island, with no capital city attached to its name as the entire city is actually a country called Singapore.  My parents are both Singaporean and still living in Singapore; my father of Javanese descent and my mother of Japanese –somewhat Portuguese lineage. Technically, that makes me a (Singaporean) mutt.

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The Big Move of the Grubbsncritters Family 

My career has been pretty much rooted in the advertising industry for 18 years now and after all these years, I still find it hard to explain what I really do! As a context, the industry I’m in deals with planning, negotiating and buying advertising space across all media. That was how I started out at the very bottom in the agency world. And there are so, so, so much more!

All these years, I have been lucky enough to not only work with global advertisers and partners across markets in my course of work, but also getting the opportunity to be transferred to another office in a different country with more than the occasional travels for business.11 years ago, that opportunity brought me to Bangkok, Thailand.

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The Land of water mills or also known as Windmills

On Juggling work and Family times

I have since been a part-time SAHM after our move here. I still work supporting my Thai office as a consultant and I work remotely from home on a 3-day week schedule on Central European Time. That also means I have to do the occasional con-calls at 3 a.m or 5 a.m on my local time! For now, that’s only temporary and I’m excited on what lies ahead.

What are your Biggest Passions?

My biggest passions are cooking and baking. I just love being in the kitchen experimenting with ingredients and whipping up magic.  I find them to be therapeutic as no matter how tired I am especially when I am stressed out, my whole family would end up having a feast!

About a year ago, I collaborated with a blogger, Gen author of Eat, Play, Clove on a Monthly Mystery Munchies Project from South Africa.  It features every first Friday of the month where we both take turns to challenge each other on agreed theme or ingredients and then post up our creation for the month. We have now featured over 25 different recipes between the both of us and I must say that it has been one of the most amazing project with a fellow blogger ever!Check out one of my heavenly recipe for Fabulous Friday Flavour Here.

I also love to read, travel and watching movies but sadly, those were b.c (before kids) indulgence and I have yet to find time for them.These days, you’ll find me blogging away and I do get annoyed if I couldn’t find the time to blog!

How is it to live in the The Netherlands?

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Typically Dutch Kids-Spud & Squirt enjoying the Tulips season  in the Netherlands

We’ve only been living in the Netherlands for 3+ months but really, the Netherlands is not a stranger to me at all.In the last 8 years, going back to the Netherlands for a vacation is an annual pilgrimage for at least 3 weeks at any one time. Our visit will always include family time with my husband’s side of the family and his bunch of childhood friends, who are by now, also my friends.

On Dutch Culture 

Family time and doing things together as a family comes first above anything else. A big part of my culture revolves around food – that’s huge from where I came from and we always make an occasion with food out of nothing! It’s also a blessing that my husband, his family and most of his friends are also enthusiastic foodies so we have a good blend of food culture going on whenever we get together.

On Dutch Bureaucracy and Formalities

In the last 3 months, I have been exposed to the complicated Dutch system of trying to get registered as a resident, getting insured, getting a mobile phone number in which I needed to produce a local bank statement for, trying to get a subsidy for getting the kids into the childcare to which we are entitled to, and recently the complex tax system – each of those probably need a post on its own!

On Dutch Early Education and Childcare

I have to say though that we have been lucky with school and childcare. Because we live in a little hole in the suburb, there has not been any waiting required. The situation would probably be different had we live in Amsterdam. The Dutch also has one of the highest quality education in the world that does not cost too much money and very much catered to the pace of the children.

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Essentially, that been our primary reason for leaving Thailand where education system is crappy and was becoming expensive. In Singapore’s rat-race, education while affordable is extremely competitive and academic. Much of the education is rote learning and something that I am not too fond of.

On Dutch brutality for being straightforward & Directness

The concept of “losing face” that is prevalent in the Asian society and a culture I’m very familiar with is pretty much non-existent here. The Dutch is known for their straight in your face blunt honesty. What you see is what you get. No one cares about “face”. It is what it is and that works for me just fine.

On First Name Basis

If there’s one thing I find a little strange with the culture is that everyone calls everyone by name. A 4-year-old child would be calling the mother of the next door neighbor by the first name. Nephew and nieces would also address their uncles and aunties by name. It was something I had to get used to as back in Singapore, we would always address those who are older with “Uncle” or “Auntie” or Sister/Brother. Calling anyone by their first name especially when you are much, much younger is considered rude!

On learning the Dutch Language

I’m still struggling with the Dutch language and I must say that given the area where we live where Dutch is the language the community is most comfortable with, not being able to speak it fluently has been quite debilitating. It’s definitely something I have to work on; along with getting a bloody damn driving license!

On scenic landscapes and beauty of nature 

I absolutely love the greenery, peace and quiet here.And do you know what else is great? The tulip season of course! It’s really the best time of the year to be visiting the Netherlands. Also, don’t forget to look up at the sky! You’ll be amazed with what you can see!

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Orange skies–as Holland’s national color is Orange.

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How is it being pregnant, giving birth and raising your child away from your home country. Or relocating with your kids to another country? What are the adjustments you’ve made?

 Pregnancy & Postpartum Care

Both my kids were born in Bangkok. From pregnancy to the birth itself and postpartum, we were pretty much on our own. My parents had to work and could only visit a few weeks after the birth of both of our kids and my in-laws visited us much later. In a way, we did not mind it very much as we wanted our space to figure things out on our own for the first few weeks after the birth.Fortunately, getting help in Thailand was relatively easy and we got ourselves a nanny in no time. Plus, the hospital services for birthing was nothing but excellent. I wrote a piece about my experience at The Bum.

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Being a parent definitely required us to make some adjustments to our lifestyles. For the first few years, we no longer slept beyond 9 p.m. and we could no longer sleep in till late afternoon.  And once I started going back to work after my maternity, I found it hard to juggle and get the work-life balance I needed. Harder for me as I was a workaholic and I was travelling lots for work!

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But somehow, we managed to work things out in the end. With the move from Bangkok to the Netherlands. I guess I just went with the flow and tweak things as they go along. I’ve learnt that not having any expectations is the best solution to keep your sanity.

What is your say about raising your kid as a third culture kid?

Now that we are settling in my husband’s birth country, I’m not sure the term third culture kids would apply to them!Still, having spent the earlier part of their formative years outside of their parents’ culture, I guess by birth they’ve got third culture ingrained in their DNA. Besides, I reckon it would only be a matter of time before we get itchy butt again to move to another country – perhaps in another 10 years.

Much can be said on the benefits of raising a third culture kid. I see it as raising not only a child, but a citizen of the world who fully embraces cultural diversity and respecting the differences across cultures. The exposure and experiences they have had would help them to not only expand, but open up their minds, learn the art of adaptability as they intuitively learn to be more sensitive to their surroundings.

They are already brought up in a multi-cultural family and we have tons of fun creating our very own family culture, traditions and customs altogether and then mix them up as they deem fit without even thinking about it. Not many (non-third culture) kids would have that kind of exposure!

Wherever they are in the world and whichever part of the world they may end up in, they would be rooted to the family values instilled in them and they’ll take it with them wherever they go.

How do you make an impact as an Expat Mama in The Netherlands?

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I used to join mommy clubs and playgroups when I was living in Bangkok. It really helps to get to know other expat moms in the community. One of my favorite meet-ups was the Baby Wearing Club. That was pretty awesome!I have yet to start on anything Mommy-based in the Netherlands! It’s something I need to work on.

Thank you so much Ann for sharing your wonderful share about being an Expat Mama. If you want to know more about Ann and her passionate cooking, check her sumptous Grubbecipes and her fabulous  Critterstories.

Photos used in this post is courtesy of Ann of Grubbsncritters and is of personal property and may subject to copyright. Should you wish to use it, please mention her.

Are you an Expat Mama? Your story can be featured here too. Just drop me an email @ justbluedutch@gmail.com and follow our Expat Mama around the world stories in my Twitter Page Here .

 

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Expat -Mamas around the World

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Becoming a parent let alone becoming a mother doesn’t happen with a blink of an eye. But once you’ve become One, you can’t turn your back. But how does one do it when she’s a first time Mom on a different ground? or  as an immigrant in another side of the globe? or working under contract then becoming pregnant in a place of different language from her mother tongue,or  in a world  totally different world from where she grew up with?

These are the reality bites of the ‘so-called fantasy life of an Expat ‘, the stuff that mothers doesn’t tell you easily over a cup of tea, the untold stories of Expat Mama..and Papas too!

 Are you an Expat Mama?

An Expat  { shortened for Expatriate} Mama is someone who is temporarily or permanently residing in a foreign country other than that of their citizenship or nationality.

Being an Expat Mama myself  ( An Asian by birth that lived temporarily in the Middle East and now settled  in Germany ) makes this new section of my Blog special for me. Subjects about motherhood & raising tiny humans becomes a next to my kin, like a second nature. Just like most of you that I have known here,  motherhood dawned upon me 2 years ago,  and I am still learning so much from it , a complete work in progress. I still sweat out during feeding times & putting my child into bed. Potty training? Yes, it’s challenging. I am totally hopeful to pass through the amazing yet busy  toddler years.

As an Expat, my tongue eventually picked-up a second language  while I was in Kuwait, and now I’m  learning Deutsch. Being an Expat can be intimidating & frustrating, that is why  learning the local language is the focal point of being a successful Expat, whether it be for work, or just to survive the hustle & bustle of being a parent every single day in a new culture.

I have my own story to tell  about being an Expat mama myself  in Middle East where I gave birth to my daughter & raise the 1st year of her life there.  Right now, in another culture,we are slowly integrating. Everyday  I face ups and downs of being a parent, It’s challenging, and drains me physically. I didn’t know how would I ever made it without my ever-supportive husband, who is likewise, an Expat-Papa. I became a mother in a totally different culture than my own and now Raising my child as a Third Culture Kid, a little Dutch-Filipino girl born in Kuwait but growing up in Germany, which helps me to appreciate even so much more the amazing beauty of being a parent.

Oh Yes, I hear you, including all the dirty messes and chaos with it. I have never been so tired and sleep-deprived in my whole life until I began raising a tiny human. Believe me, it is one hell of a ride everyday. Can you relate?

So here’s a new addition to my Blog— E x p a t  M a m a s   A r o u n d    t h e  W o r l d. My own personal gallery  of interview stories of different Expat Mothers. They don’t boast their titles , they are just special humans in superhero bodies. They could be the normal  stereotype Mama you see in the grocery shop, in the park chasing their toddlers, commuting from work, always rushing & working their ass off  in the office, while they  turned into Super Moms in the kitchen whipping up dinners to feed their children while doing the laundry and still having time for herself. Super- Mom right?!

Eventually finding themselves strong, driven and passionate home maker, and as a woman of substance.

Does this sound like you?

If so, Do you want to be featured in this Blog?

If you are an Expat Mama and you want your special Expat story to be featured in here, please drop me an email @ justbluedutch@gmail.com , Expat Papas are welcome too! Send few photos of you and your Expat motherhood/fatherhood moments or a link to your Instagram feed if you have.  If you are an  Expat Lifestyle Blogger like me then I would love to connect with you through the link of your website. I would gladly welcome you to our gallery and love to hear your story.

Get to know our first featured Expat Mama, Ann of Grubbsncritters with her amazing story about parenting in the cycle capital of the world, The Netherlands. If you’re interested, you can read her story Here.

Are you on Twitter?

Follow me on my Twitter page Here .

If you enjoy this post, you might want to check out the Parenthood in  The Philippines and why raising My Daughter is a TCK ( Third Culture Kid )   is a great experience.

 

 

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Filipino Parenthood

In my previous post 10 Surprising Things about Parenthood in Kuwait, I wrote about fascinating things that caught me by surprise as an Expat parent living in Kuwait. I found so many differences in child rearing in Arab countries as well as in Netherlands compared to how I was raised in the Philippines. It’s not the same  when you are a parent in your home country with your own native culture than becoming an Expat parent in another country with totally contrasting cultural  & child upbringing values. I become a parent and gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait so I don’t have a personal experience how to rear a child in Ph, but these things are based on how I saw my nieces, nephews, and how I viewed childcare during  my childhood. So much changes since then.

So here I want to share with you my humble views about Parenthood in the Philippines since this has become an interesting subject for me when I became a parent. Being born & raised there , my observations were from my personal experiences and the way I see the Filipino way of parenting against Global Parenthood. On the other hand, I am not putting into generalization of everything since parenting is pure hands-on & personal.

It differs from one person to another . You as the parent knows what is best for your child.

  1. On Philippines as a Child-Friendly country

Philippines in general have the  impression of a child-Friendly country. If you google about it, you will see faces of smiling faces of children, wacky as it may seem but children are important part of the society. It is a typical sight that children are seen in every occasion, in almost every social activities and being regarded with respect and protection. You can see Filipina mothers with their young babies out in the night shopping, in the church, in the wet markets buying fish,playing in the rice fields, brought to workplaces, parties or just tagged along doing errands. There is no such thing as off-limits zone for Children.

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Recently ,the Philippines has achieved much in complying to the principles of UNCRC  or (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ) over the past 25 years. But in the next quarter century,they strive for the whole nation to have more caring community where children do not experience discrimination, but the warmth of a community so willing to embrace and protect them.

2.On Embracing the trend in Young Parenthood  & High Birth Rate 

Philippines stands high at #59 ranking for Birth Rate  with 24.27 Births /1,000 population and Filipina women have a High Fertility rate of 2.6 (#67) , Compared to Netherlands which is 1.7 child per woman (#152)  or with Germany which has 1.4 (#186)  only. This really surprised me. Numbers really shows you the fine line between facts and just pure hypes. Numbers don’t lie.

To view the whole article for Fertility Rate per country as per 2015 stats, click Here.

It is  common to see Filipino women to have children at a very young age. Teenage pregnancy have become an accepted norm , It is a taboo subject that causes raised eyebrows and yet mainly because there is not enough education about Sex, Birth control & use of contraceptives. It’s depressing to see young women getting pregnant and becoming mothers at the age of 15-19.

What do you know when you are 19!

I became a mother myself when I gave birth to my daughter at the age of 37. Yeah, too late maybe.

Although the Catholic church is very involved in this issue it shows that its unsuccessful. This trend has a direct impact on the quality of parenthood for Filipinos. Young Filipina mothers faced difficulties in raising a child due to lack of maturity and knowledge about having a child. There is a big change in one’s moral  and character once you’ve got responsibilities  that come too early for you to handle. Oftentimes,it is the child who suffers.

3. On Growing up in Big Families

Filipinos are very  clanish.They tend to live closer to their relatives. I don’t know how this started but I grew up seeing this type of living arrangement. Filipinos have an average of 3-5 children and having a big family is commonly seen as status. Children are raised up not only by their parents but with the whole clan .They grow up being taken care of by their Grandparents, Aunties ,or Uncles and up to their distant cousins. It’s no wonder that the stress of Cleaving and Independency upon growing up is not regarded as strongly as in the US or in Europe. At an early stage of rearing a child, Filipino parents exposed their child knowing that they always have someone to depend on or will take care of them if both of the parents are unavailable. This is maybe  the reason why most Filipinos live together with their parents even when they already have their own families. In a way this is an advantage when you’re a working Mom, you can always count on Grandma to look after the kids if you don’t have a maid. I observed that this is totally non-existent in Europe or in US where Independency  upon reaching  18/21 of age  is a norm. Maybe there is, but it’s not as common as in Ph. In Philippines, It has been an  accepted weakness to ask for help , to rely on immediate support & help from other members of the family.

 

Filipino-Children
A photo of Filipino children gamely poses in front of the camera.

This manner of  raising a child have become an integral support system for  Filipino parents. On its positive side, Mothers get the help that she need in child care right away , almost behind her doorstep. It’s very normal that babies are used to seeing their  siblings and relatives ,  therefore Separation Anxiety is easily overcome  as early as toddler’s stage. They don’t have a difficult time adjusting to the surroundings of a Nanny,in a Daycare or Nursery school. Having a hired help ( maid or Nanny ) to take care of the children is not that prevalent although its a personal choice, but this can be seen now mostly on middle-class & well-off families.

4.Filipino parents are totally Hands-on and Attached in raising a child

What i found so common in Filipino parenting is that they are totally hands-on and attached (physically & literally ) to their child. I have observed that Filipina mothers are known to be good homemakers and caring for their child. Maybe this is the reason why many Filipinas who worked abroad as a Nanny  have a distinct reputation of being excellent in raising kids.

Extended Breastfeeding, Babywearing, & Co-Sleeping are among the child rearing values that is so typical for Filipinos. Although many people have raised their different opinions about Co-Sleeping, it has become a trademark of Filipino families. A baby sleeps in the same room with the parents and most of the time, sleeps on the same bed too. I wonder many times how Filipino couples handles the private and intimate moments with a baby in the same room. This way of living  sometimes happens  because of lack of space in the house (separate room for baby ), for convenience reasons, or they just love to be close physically with their child. As for me, my daughter sleeps alone  in her room from the time we brought her home from the hospital. This is a personal choice that we have made.

Filipino parents love to carry their child in their arms. The use of strollers is mainly on long stays outside, out-of-town trips or travelling out of the country. One reason  because Philippines has a poor public transport system and its a hassle for parents to carry along a stroller during commute. There’s no such thing as bus or train that is stroller friendly. Besides of its high cost, this has become a dispensable luxury to most average families. For practical reasons, Filipinos are known to be open-minded about accepting second-hand or giveaway hand down items. It’s normal to reuse cribs or baby walkers that has been previously used by child of  relatives or friends.High chairs or swings are not as in demand as it is here or in Europe.  You can see Filipino parents carrying their child everywhere outside, walking in the street, attending events, or even in crowded places. The early habits such as Eating with utensils & Potty training are taught on early stages of child development.

5.Highlights on Child’s Baptism &  Big Birthday Party Celebrations

Philippines is a Catholic country and one imperative is for a child to be Baptized into Catholic church if both parents are Catholic. This occasion is celebrated with big party (more like a feast ) with roasted pig (Lechon ) and inviting almost all their relatives & friends . Everyone is involved in this family celebration. The child has 5 sets  at least of  Godparents ( or Ninongs & Ninangs ) .  Birthday parties are big thing and it  become a trend in Philippines to throw big parties for their child . Mainly because they have relatives & immediate families living close by to share it.

6.Early exposure to Poverty, Death and natural Disasters

Parenthood in the Philippines involves exposing your child to Poverty, Death & calamities. I remember as a child the memories of the  strong typhoon that badly hit our region and that our house was wrecked . Later we got used to it that natural disasters has become a part of our childhood. We celebrated Christmas with half of our roof is not yet repaired. Raising a child with their eyes open to see life’s difficulties can be challenging for Filipino parents. Children are brought to funerals and participate in the grieving times for a loss of a loved-ones. Nothing is disclosed from them.

POVERTY
Busaw family leaving in the center island under the Metro Rail Transit along North Edsa in Brgy. Pag-asa in Quezon City taking a lunch break event if it is danger zone and air pollution cause of smoke vehicles. {photo credit to /boy santos}

Filipino parents instilled these thoughts on their child on early stages of life and explaining to them that life can be painful, hard, and at the same time offering strong moral support for their children. Because of this, Filipino children eventually learns the values of hard work.

Do you have any opinion about how a child being raised in your own country? How does this post made you feel?

Would you ever raise a child in Philippines? if given a chance?

I hope I brought you some awareness of how parenthood in the Philippines is greatly connected to its culture . If you like this post, please feel free to read on further on my articles about the Surprising things about Parenthood that I saw in Kuwait and raising the early months of my daughter there and raising her as a TCK (Third Culture Kid ).