• Tanya Arler

Ask an Expert Expat - as seen in the Bamboo Telegraph

Updated: Dec 2, 2020


I have recently been asked to start a new column in the Bamboo Telegraph, a periodical issued by the AWA in Singapore which is where I call home right now.


The AWA is a great association that supports and organises activities for expat women. I've said it before and I'll say it again, meeting other expats and building your support network is probably the quickest and most effective way of making your new country feel like home. That's why organisations like the AWA are invaluable to the new and seasoned expat spouse. If you don't live in Singapore, reach out to any organisation that supports people who have embarked on this crazy life... it can really make all the difference.


Anyhoo!


My column, Ask an Expert Expat, is designed to answer real-life questions from readers. Each issue I will address 2-3 questions that have been submitted in confidence. I will try to address the issues that are most common and give straight-forward answers and advice.


Here is the introduction that was issued last month:


We are pleased to launch a new column, Ask an Expert Expat, by Tanya Arler. Being an expat spouse comes with a unique set of circumstances which extend far beyond the practical aspects of settling into a new country. The unexpected personal journey we go through in this surreal experience often causes turmoil. As a coach and seasoned expat herself, Tanya is here to address some of your dilemmas.

Hi, I'm Tanya.

Welcome to Ask an Expert Expat. I'm here to offer insight and advice on questions pertaining to the personal challenges you face as an expat spouse. To get the ball rolling I thought I would share my story with you.

I have a bit of a mixed history as my father was American and my mother is Belgian. Although I was born and schooled in the US, I spent 10-12 weeks each summer in a small town in Flanders with my grandparents and Belgian friends, none of whom spoke English. Strictly speaking I was not an expat child, but I was certainly a Third Culture Kid.

At 19 I moved to Belgium, and since have lived in Italy, Japan, Sweden, Belgium (3 times), and Singapore (twice).

What I cherish about expat living is that life is never dull. The friendships forged and memories made are truly beyond my wildest dreams, but the constant need to adapt and change is relentless.

What I've learned is that you never get used to living in limbo, rebuilding your identity is always a challenge, the emotional wringer doesn't get easier, and there's nothing worse than seeing your child struggle.

I've also learned that expat friendships are some of the most profound friendships you can have, and that expat children are bold and tolerant, offering a much needed voice in this world.

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to believe that "expats have it all," but life is life. Moving to a foreign culture doesn’t change that, it just offers a different set of ups and downs.

15 years ago I became a coach and started focusing on expat spouses. It's been a joy to work with such brave women and I found that often the smallest insights or shift in perspective can make all the difference.

I hope to shed light on some of your dilemmas to help you navigate life as an expat spouse more easily. I would be honored if you entrusted me with your quandaries and shared situations you struggle with. Your questions remain confidential and will be handled with the respect they require. My goal is to offer support by addressing the real-life issues of expat spouses so that you can make the most of this fantastic experience.

To submit questions, please email us.

If you want to see the article as published, here is the link. From there, you're able to access the entire magazine, maybe there will be other articles that interest you!


Tanya Arler is the author of the book UNPACK - a guide to life as an expat spouse and founder of A Happy Expat. A HAPPY EXPAT offers expat spouses practical tools, mindset coaching, and advice on how to navigate the staggering change they are going through, all the while remaining the rock their family so desperately needs.

So they too can become...

A HAPPY EXPAT​​


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