When a Fellow Expat Mother Reviews Your Book. . .

Ute Limacher-Riebold has a profile that makes one’s eyes pop, glaze over, wink twice, then close with reflection and a bit of – oh, I don’t know – Global Mom reverence. I’ve quietly followed her blog for a while, then recently dared to drum up an offline connection.  Ever since, I have been greatly enriched by our cross-cultural interaction. One of those times where I am indeed grateful for the power of social media.

expatsincebirth

Let me introduce Ute before you click over to her blog, where she has (voluntarily, without my request or prompting!) written a thoughtful and thorough review of my recently published book.

firenzemoms4moms

firenzemoms4moms

Born in Switzerland, she spent her childhood in northern Italy, attended university in Switzerland (completing a PhD in French medieval literature), worked there in the Department of Romance Studies, scooted down to Florence for professional reasons (and had a baby son there), scooted back up to the Netherlands (where her twin daughters were born), and now maintains a rich treasure of a blog, Expatsincebirth.

scienceillustrated.com

scienceillustrated.com

Yes, as you guessed, Ute is a polyglot.  She masters German, Italian, English and French, and in turn considers herself a comfortable coalescence of all of these cultures.  No doubt her Dutch is nearly as impeccable by now, and she, her husband and her children (all multilingual, as well) are flavored by the Dutch language and culture, too.  Her life experiences offer a strong model for the kind of nomadic, borderless living that is becoming more and more common.

mondial.infos

mondial.infos

I’ll be returning in future posts to Ute and similar writers and mothers. Their global outlook and multicultural life experiences will surely inspire a holistic view of how to navigate this fascinatingly diverse and ever-shrinking world.

**

Do you know families like this, who move between countries, cultures and languages?

Are you one? Tell us about it.

What do you imagine the costs are for such fluidity?

The benefits?

If you happen to live a more localized life, what things would be hardest to sacrifice to have such global experiences?

And what about localized living would you not mind giving up?

9 thoughts on “When a Fellow Expat Mother Reviews Your Book. . .

  1. I love ex-pat blogs–I have been an ex-pat living in various cities in western Europe my whole married life (raising 3 children currently outside Zurich). Though I do not blog, my list of bookmarked Favorites is long–I think I have more than 25 from Switzerland alone. Glad to find yours via Ute and add it to my list. Nice to have one without ads!

    • Sitisanskrit:

      Happy to meet you here. Isn’t it funny? I never considered myself either an expat or a blogger until, oh, a year ago, when someone called me that. I suppose I slid into those categories pretty easily 🙂 Like you, maybe, I define myself more in terms of being a citizen of the world. And alongside blogging, I’m a professional writer, so this place has been a terrific arena to practice compressing ideas and getting immediate response.

      And of course it’s been a delight to connect with people like Ute and you! Thanks for coming through and leaving a word. Appreciate it. Grrrrrrrüezi mitenand!

  2. I am so delighted to find you here! I found you through the mormonwomen interview and was thrilled. When visiting cousins in the Munich ward, I got to sit in on a few of your gospel doctrine and RS lessons. Loved them!!! Reminded me of my favorite BYU classes. Having lived in Stuttgart for almost five years now and being hit recently with a severe case of homesickness for that sense of community you spoke of, it was like balm to my soul to read your interview. I am so sorry for your family’s loss and really appreciate your ability to share your experiences and research. Learning how to support those that grieve has been of particular interest to me in the past couple years. I’m interested to hear more about the IB program as our Int’l school is undergoing that right now. Might you share a good reading list? My children are at a dual language approach campus which has been very interesting.

    • Tracie: Great to have you sweep in here! Thank you for taking time for this. And I’m warmed to think that this is the sort of discussion you ache for. Tiffany, who is also an expat mother and is following my blog, has noted that her strongest sense of community was precisely within her church (LDS) community abroad, and that that sense of dire interdependency was painful to lose when repatriating. So for her : stronger ties in her “exile” than at “home.” (Whatever “home” comes to mean.)

      While I feel that keen lack of continuous, deeply-rooted relationships that are part of localized life, I’ve also experienced the same thing as Tiffany, and need to write about it in an upcoming post. (I do mention it everywhere in my book, since the tight involvement in my church community marked every place we have lived.)

      And about IB: Next post! I have mixed and strong feelings, and have done a fair amount of research over the years to pull in expert assessments. It will be a hot, controversial post, I’m sure! Yes, Tracie, here’s a starter reading list from both the US and the UK:

      http://www.greatschools.org/school-choice/international-baccalaureate/6950-what-is-ib-international-baccalaureate.gs

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/03/education/03baccalaureate.html?pagewanted=all

      http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=24626

      http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/International_Baccalaureate (note the section on “Criticisms”)

      Maybe this helps somewhat. . .? And of course, the value of the IB program has to do with where your student plans to go to college. Be certain you know if your target college even gives full credit for IB courses which are, according to all the research I’ve found, much more difficult that AP or Honors courses, (which always earn college credit).

      Lots to think about.

      Thanks again!

  3. So great to hear about both of your blogs! I’m a Canadian based in Amsterdam and I write the blog “Mishmash Learning: Adventures in Formal and Informal Learning in Europe”. I chronicle our adventures in navigating the Dutch education system and comparing/contrasting it with those in North America and discovering Amsterdam and Europe as “informal learning playgrounds”. Please visit at http://mishmashlearning.blogspot.nl

    • Deborah: This looks interesting. I’ll gladly stop by. Without knowing much, I’d imagine that the Dutch educational system lies somewhere between the German and Norwegian, halfway between Cartesian rigor and lumberjack relax. Am I right? 🙂

      Thanks for stopping in!

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