Living in a foreign country is probably what keeps me (reasonably) grounded. In France I used to take some things for granted, such as the freshness of food and free schools. I had to learn (the hard way) that such things don’t necessarily exist everywhere. As a result, I am more grateful for what I have, and for some weird reasons I ended up being happier over here, in London. But I am far from being the only one to have had such experiences.
Meet Sonia, a (very fit and even more gorgeous) mum of 3 boys. Sonia lives in California (lucky her!).
When her teenage son started going off the track, she didn’t know what to do. Would she send him away to try to go and sort himself out? Would she try to deal with the issue herself? Would she become depressed? Would she seek a family therapist?
Faced with such a situation, Sonia devised her very own innovative plan: she moved all the family to Belize for a year. Yes, Belize in the Caribbean…
Her move surprised everybody, but somehow worked. Having a different pace of life and having to deal with the unexpected made the whole family more close-knit, and also more grateful of the small things of life -you know, the stuff we often take for granted, such as medical care or food in your local supermarket. They eventually came back to California and thrived.
Sonia wrote a novel of her experiences, Freeways to Flip Flops ( click here for the US Amazon link and here for the UK one).
But there is more. This is the moment you have all been waiting for: Sonia agreed to be interviewed about her book and, as much as I didn’t want you to hear my strong French accent and my lack of media skills, I ignored my natural shyness (I am an Engineer after all, you see) and did it. Here is the result:
Sonia’s novel is about the difficulties of holding a family together, trying to accommodate everybody’s needs. How do you make it work? What do you do when things don’t work out as expected? It is also a book about expat communities abroad and how your fellow countrymen behave when they have settled abroad.
I enjoyed Sonia’s story, because she tells things in an honest, understated way. She explained, for instance, how to try to find the same food than at home, and how what works on the paper might be a bit more difficult to implement. Sonia’s book needs to be read slowly, chapter by chapter, to be fully appreciated. Her story is about resilience, and thinking outside the box to make it work. I highly recommend it.
Sonia’s story resonated with mine. Maybe all expats have something in common: they need to go out of their comfort zone and make the best out of it. If you have the opportunity to live abroad, grab it!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London