Georgia- Ghana

 

The Hedricks

WIIYKF for ExpatMumma welcomes Australian Expat, Georgia Hedrick. Georgia has been living OS for many years now with her Naval husband and their children. Georgia grew up travelling and I met her in Melbourne over 20 years ago. I feel pretty lucky to  have the opportunity to hear her expat story. The best bit is our First expatmumma interview was with Nancy. Georgia is helping Nancy with her relocation to Ghana in a  few months time. What a great thing the expat network is!!  So here is Georgia’s story.

Where were you born and where are you currently living
Born in Melbourne, Australia. Currently living in Accra, Ghana.

What brought you to this place?
Hubs works at US Embassy here and we’re here for a 2 year tour

What other places have you lived?
You really want to know? I’ll just stick with as an adult, otherwise it’ll be getting long! Melbourne, Sydney, London,
in the US – San Diego CA, Seattle WA, Newport RI, Monterey CA,
Naples, Italy; Stuttgart, Germany; Accra, Ghana
Most postings are are 3 years.

What languages do you speak?
People say I speak English well (!) but I can also speak Italian fluently and conversational German. My current record in Twii (Ghana’s local language) are a whopping 2 words (hello & thank you!)
How many children do you have and who are they?
I’ve got 2 rugrats that are global nomads. Oliver is 8 and Audrey is 7. Neither have ever lived in the US or Australia but have passports for both!

Germany
Germany

What do you love the most about your expat children?
Kiddos are super adaptable and open minded. They appreciate diversity and have learned to make friends very easily.
What shits you the most about your children? sorry inappropriate question!
Don’t get me started here!
As for my darling angels…..The daily homework & bedtime battles, their amazing ability for selective listening and the fact that they’ve traveled so much that they’re almost blasé about every amazing place they visit now…maybe they’ll appreciate it later 😉

What was your occupation before being an expat, while being an expat and what do you do now?
Before being an expatmumma, I was a Business Development & Operations Manager for a large multi services company in Australia. I’ve been lucky to have been a lady of leisure for several years while the kids were young. Now, I’m a fitness instructor and Personal Trainer.I completed my PT through – ACE (American Council on Exercise) and I did my Group Exercise Certification through AFAA (Aerobics & Fitness Association of America).

Audrey and Oliver with local kids in Ghana
Audrey and Oliver with local kids in Ghana

What was the easiest thing settling into a new country?

The support network in the expat community is great, especially if research is done before getting there, providing a foundation from which to jump off. I’m a naturally adventurous person who has moved for my whole life, so I adapt to new places & make new friends pretty quickly. It’s like my job when we get to a new place – recruit friends and figure the place out!

Audrey with  a Maasai Child
Audrey with a Maasai Child

What was the hardest thing settling into a new country?
Having to start over again and again and again! While making friends and settling in is the easiest thing, it’s also the hardest! Every time we move, it’s like “here we go again.” Getting to know how places work, where to go out, where to shop, where to eat, where to send the kids to school, where to live etc, etc – it gets old quickly!
WHAT is the most challenging thing about being an expatmumma?
Now that the kids are getting older, this moving thing is getting tougher on them, so therefore it’s tough convincing them that this is our life. We’re getting to the point now, of settling down for their benefit, as it’s not just about us anymore.

What is the BEST thing about being an Expatmumma!
Best thing about being an Expat Mumma? I love traveling, meeting new people, living in different places, trying new things, having new experiences so I kind of feel I was born to do this!
Tell us about some unique cultural attributes at one of your postings?
Cultural attributes/interesting experience – our current place is certainly the most culturally diverse place we’ve lived so I’m keeping a blog which can answer this question best! www.thewayitsghanabe.net

Audrey and Oliver with local kids in Ghana
Audrey and Oliver with local kids in Ghana

What is the most interesting experience you have had as an expat?
I was making a run to the local grocery store, crawling through one of the busiest roundabouts in Accra, when a guy (driving the only BMW in Ghana) cut into me, resulting in the inevitable car contact. Within 30 seconds, both cars were surrounded by literally dozens of street vendors, passersby and even a homeless local who came to see what the fuss was about, all of whom offering their own version of events. It was mayhem and I was fuming! One small exchange went something like this:
Sunglass Vendor: “It was definitely his fault. Would you like to buy some sunglasses?”
Me: “Are you kidding? No.”
Sunglass Vendor: “It was definitely your fault.”
These types of exchanges went on for an hour until our Embassy Security Officer turned up and a few “whisper, whisper, whispers” later, implored me to give the BMW driver 50 Cedi ($16USD) and this would all be forgotten. The principled side of me was livid at “admitting” fault but the logical, exhausted side of me conceded. And that was that.
Red diplomatic license plates = Rich, white person. Will pay
The icing on the cake was one final exchange between us. The other driver, shook my hand, then said “It was nice to meet you. Can you get me a Visa for the United States please?” Oh, Ghana!

Describe a usual day?
Usual day. Hmmm, since it’s so crazy hot here 365 days a year, I get up at 445am and lead a workout class at 5am before the humidity destroys us. Get kids up and get them off to school at 7am. Play tennis or some other workout. I’ve been studying for the past 6 months, so I need to squeeze that in when my motivation allows! There’s always some social event happening here, so depending on how social I’m feeling that day, I might do a lunch, coffee, local field trip….

Oh and shopping. How can I forget grocery shopping! We need to hit between 3-5 stores just to get everything we need , so there’s also considerable time in the car, sitting in Accra’s awful traffic, grocery store hopping. When kids get home, usual homework, after school activities, dinner routine (always with a wine glass in one hand)

Georgia and Dan in Germany
Georgia and Dan in Germany

What is the best thing about living in this place?
Best thing – way more so than Europe, Ghana is so outside my comfort zone so the everyday challenges keep me on my toes and the time here is FLYING by!
Where would your ultimate expat posting be and why?
Ultimate posting – Quite honestly, I’d move back to Italy in a heartbeat – I think I may have been Italian in my past life. It’s where I feel most at home – the culture, the people, the language….I’m drooling right now!
What do your “home” visits look like?
Usually I try to get back to Australia every 2 years – the last time I went back in 2013 it was 4 times in one year. Right now, I am on an “Australia” break!
We go to the US ever summer.
Will likely settle in California, hopefully sooner rather than later…

What is the best advice you have been given or you would give to another expat  facing challenges in a new country?
Advice – be proactive getting involved in the expat network – the community help/guidance/support is invaluable and that can be the difference between a great posting and a miserable one.

On the Serengeti Plain
On the Serengeti Plain

What is it you simply KHAN’t Face about living in this country?
Potholes ( sic)
thanks a million Georgia
xoxoxo

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