ExpatMumma welcomes Carolyn Clarke to WIYKF. Carolyn is a working RepatMumma and currently lives in Stonehaven, Scotland where she is a partner at high profile firm. She is about to move down to London, her hometown after 2 years in Scotland. I met Carolyn and her family whilst living in Mongolia, Roger her husband is on leave from his job and is a stay at home dad. She is an amazing woman who is on the Board of Trustees for Care International UK , has a superb ability to pull communities together and connect people, has just completed the London Marathon and is great fun to have a cheeky Gin and Tonic with. Carolyn is one of the most honest women I have ever met and has a sensibility and humility to her like no one else. It is a privilege to talk to her about repatriating.
Where were you born and where are you currently living? Born in England and living in Scotland
What other places have you lived? Longer term only in Mongolia and then Scotland
Why did you return “home” and how long have you been back? Returned back to the UK nearly 2 years ago but moved up to Scotland (questionable as to whether this is really “home”!)
What are the main differences living in your home country compared to life as an expat? On one hand everything is much easier – shops stock what you need, banks and other service providers are rational etc. On the other hand you don’t have the same support network in terms of other people in the same position, and you don’t get the extra level of help with basic living including access to nannies, private schooling paid by employers etc
How have these changes affected you? It can be a lonely experience returning, especially if you are returning to your home country but not home location so you don’t have access to the friends and support network you had before you left. On the other hand I think so long as you return with your relationship intact you develop a much closer family bond as you have been through an extreme experience together and had to rely on each other. You have amazing life experiences as a family that define you.
What was the easiest thing settling back in your home country ?
Familiarity – things pretty much work in the way you expect them to
What was the hardest thing settling in? Everyone around you has not been away and experienced all the things you have – you feel far more isolated on your return than you do when you are away even though things are more familiar.
What was your favourite part of being an expatmumma?
Being around lots of other families from lots of other backgrounds and cultures, the diversity of ways of doing things, the comradary, the fact that people are far more accepting of you and you don’t have to justify yourself, the experiences you can give your children etc – its hard trying to recreate this when you are back, but we have a determination to continue to travel and to give the kids those experiences
What languages do you speak?
English only – regretfully
How many children do you have and who are they? Amy and George
What do you love the most about your children? Their individuality and their growing personalities. Amy is thoughtful, a day dreamer, creative, a tom-boy and yet girlie in equal measure and trying to figure things out all the time. George is affectionate, fearless and likes to make people laugh.
What school do your children go to and what other schools have they attended? International school, Scottish local school and about to start at a proper English prep school (which I hope is good for them and doesn’t make them into clones!)
What is your job? If you are lucky enough to be a lady of leisure then what are your hobbies? Auditor (which sounds terribly boring) but Roger is the stay at home dad – about to become a working man again as an investigator which sounds more interesting than my job. We like camping, picnics, travel, skiing, running (me), good pubs, restaurants, wine and champagne…
How do you live your life differently now you have the hindsight of your expat experience? Can you give examples of where you changed habits of “home” to fit your new belief system about living life and family? We are far more aware of doing things as a family – road trips, travel, camping etc – and focus on spending time with friends is important so our kids get diverse experiences. Friends become your family and are far more important. We try to keep traditions that we have gained from the places we have lived in (although I am not wanting them to gain a like long love of deep fried mars bars particularly!)
Tell us your thoughts about life in Mongolia versus life in the UK ? Anyone going to live and work in a developing country needs to be prepared for the unexpected, all of the time – logic gets thrown out of the window and you have to just respond to the most pressing demands of the day. It’s exciting as no two days are the same and you never know what is coming next, and the adrenalin keeps you going. Coming back to a developed country requires a real effort to slow down and accept that things have to follow accepts norms and rules of behaviour – and sometimes this is frustrating as it means unnecessary levels of bureaucracy in a completely different way. It can be very slow and very tiring at times but you do appreciate that there are reasons for it!
Describe a usual day? No such thing at present – we juggle children, home, work and everything else whilst keeping the children in a routine as much as possible. Walking and getting out doors is important. Weekends are for family meals and family times. But date nights out are also important.
What is the best thing about living in this place? Where we are now -the sea, a healthy lifestyle, close to the country, walking to school, to the shops, to the beach etc. Where we are headed to next – who knows? But closer to family and long term friends which will be good
Where would your ultimate expat posting be and why? I have no idea as it would be somewhere unexpected and fabulous just like Mongolia was – but these days good schools are also important – bit of a catch 22
What is it you simply KHAN’t Face anymore living back in this country? Lack of adventure – need to be around people who are inspirational. But fortunately we have them amongst our oldest friends and around the world
muchos gracias amiga!!!! xoxoxoxox