It’s one thing to travel abroadto stay in charming hotels and deliberate over whether to visit this museum or relax at that café, even to head off the beaten track for a glimpse of “real” lifeand another thing altogether to move to another country. Expat chronicles the experiences of twenty-two ordinary women living extraordinary lives in outposts as far flung as Borneo, Ukraine, India, Greece, Brazil, China and the Czech Republic.
In vivid detail, these writers share how the realities of life abroad match up to the expat fantasy. One woman negotiates the rough courtesies of Serbia, finding lives limned by harshness and an insurmountable spirit. Another is tutored on English manners by an eclectic bunch from Liverpool: “The cardinal sin in America is to be insincere, whereas the cardinal sin in England is to be boring.” For some, their new home prompts them to reconnect or confront lost parts of themselves: One woman rediscovers her Judaismin Japan; another writer’s Western outlook is challenged by Javanese mysticism. Many share their own naïve blunders and private confessions: a Thanksgiving dinner that doesn’t translate in Paris, a sudden yearning for bad Hollywood films. And all discover that what it means to be “American” is redefined, again and again.
Expat taps into the bewilderment, the joys and surprises of life overseas, where the challenges often take unexpected forms and the obstacles overcome are all the more triumphant. Featuring an astonishing range of perspectives, destinations and circumstances, this collection offers a beautiful portrait of expatriate life.