Living with the kindness of strangers

I have lived in five countries in the last ten years. I am a trailing spouse, a woman who has left all she knows behind, picked up her children and followed her husband to his new job location. I am not bitter but when the Darling Husband is away and you are in a country where you neither speak the language or can use google translate, because the writing is in Arabic and your laptop does not have the keys for that and no one has fixed the internet anyway – the kindness of strangers has got me out of many a tricky situation.

We have lived in Vienna, Dubai, Zurich, Stuttgart and currently reside in Prague, which is fabulous, especially as I love beer! The flip side is that I am now an empty nester, the little darlings have fledged and left me. The impact on my life has been huge, I now join societies I never thought I would, most start with the phrase ‘International Women ….’

Helen Noll

Helen Noll

Last week we had 15 for dinner and there were 12 nationalities, including a Ukrainian and a Russian! By getting folks around a table, offering food and drink, it is amazing what you can find out about any culture. This is my therapy, planning, cooking and sharing food with strangers.

My blog will share my experiences, finding friends, taking the advise and relying on the kindness strangers. All in the quest to cope with life as a trailing spouse.

First of all I would like to define a trailing spouse. Typically a woman there a few men and it must be just as tricky for them as for us, if not a little more so. Your spouse comes home and tells you that the job is now in a place, with a move where a passport is involved. How this makes your life change is not to be underestimated and as more of us find ourselves global citizens, it is effecting families or couples more and more. It is a tough adventure, I have to admit my Darling husband’s company do offer some support with moving, a relocation officer, not always as helpful as they might be, some are on the back-hander and will actively encourage you in some areas and discourage others, not with your families best interests at heart. More the amount of commission coming their way.

Once all the difficult stuff is done, you found the school and luckily they have a place for your little darlings, you can start looking for a home in the vicinity. Then ship out!

When we left the UK, we had a big garden party to say ‘Bon Voyage’ to our family and friends. It involved faking our garden into something arabic – tents with carpets, tagines, candles in lanterns, to try and create our ‘new’ environment – Dubai. Our darling daughter No.1 was beyond upset to be leaving at 16 and starting school in a foreign country, the younger one was less traumatised but I was leaving darling son, who was 18 and at college – I was beyond sad. Years later, they have all abandoned me, the youngest choosing boarding school as she was utterly fed up with a new school and new friendships every two years.

So here I sit, in Prague, a trailing spouse, no kids – a few years experience at ‘trailing’ behind me. Time to get out and enjoy the adventure!

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