You Take Yourself With You (And Other Things About Living Overseas)

Airport Check-in

Readers, I’m posting at A Life Overseas today about what does and doesn’t happen when you get on that plane to go overseas.

Here is a preview of a longer version where you can then head over to A Life Overseas to read the rest. 

I’ll never forget the day the call came from the American University in Cairo. It was a Sunday morning and my husband had left for church with our three children. With three kids under four years old, we had our hands full. I had worked the night shift as a nurse and arrived back to the house in time to eat breakfast, hug them, and send them on their way.

I then began the difficult task of getting to sleep. We were in a period of great uncertainty. My husband’s job as an English Teacher had ended at Jacksonville University and the job that we thought we would be going to in Saudi Arabia had fallen through.  My faith was at a low, my body exhausted.

As I lay on my bed, half-asleep, half-awake in the warmth of that August morning, the phone rang. It was an administrator from the American University in Cairo. I don’t remember much about that phone call but the final words she said to me were these: “Tell your husband that his future at the American University in Cairo looks very promising”

Sleep would not come that day. I could hardly wait for my husband to get home. We had dreamed of going to Cairo while dating and the dream had only become stronger. The year in Jacksonville had been difficult – a time of healing, waiting, repentance. And now we were watching miracles unfold to get us to the Middle East.

Two weeks after that phone call we were in Cairo with our youth, our passion, and our three little ones.

And that’s when it got hard. Because there are some important things that we didn’t realize when we were on one side of the pond – the side where churches applauded us and raised prayers on our behalf; the side where Christian fellowship was easy to find and when I was tired I could open up a box of macaroni and cheese for dinner.

Here are some of the things I learned as I moved forward in my new life, creating a home and longing to serve. Read the rest

6 thoughts on “You Take Yourself With You (And Other Things About Living Overseas)

  1. Wow. This is a great reminder for me as I leave for Jordan in a week that even as a TCK there are still some challenges in going to a new place. I have heard people say that your problems and insecurities are magnified overseas, and maybe this thinking is arrogant or ignorant, but I’ve always thought that as a TCK there will be less of that. Can you as an expert TCK and expat, confirm or deny my thinking?


    1. This is such an interesting comment. In fact, as I wrote that piece I was thinking about the TCK piece. I feel like when I write from the expat perspective, I put aside some of the TCK feelings so that in itself is an interesting self-observation. Maybe it’s part of the chameleon piece? So from a TCK perspective, the minute I get on plane and head to a country where I am in the minority, I am more at home. I get off the plane and there is sense of familiarity and comfortability. I breathe in deep and cannot wait to become a part of my surroundings, no matter how short or long. Even when it’s for a short time, I’l try not to stay in a hotel but in a neighborhood. So that bit is hard to explain to an expat. Because that isn’t the case with most. They have a far clearer conception of home than I do. This particular piece I was thinking back to a specific time and what I went through at the time. We had 3 moves in 3 years and 2 pregnancies in that time. I was in an insecure time of my life, and that didn’t go away on the plane. I’d love to talk more about this though – because I really do turn off my TCK self to relate more in that context. I got into an online conversation with some expats recently and felt as frustrated with the conversation as I sometimes do with complete non travelers and I realized that even with those who’ve lived overseas I have a different perspective. I remember you saying you were going to Jordan – have a great time! How long will you be there? Also if you want to do a guest post while there – just say the word! Also have you seen this article? I was remembering our conversation a bit ago and couldn’t remember if I had sent it to you.


      1. I’ll be exploring what it is like to go to a new place as a TCK in a few days, so I’ll let you know what I find. But I cannot imagine the difficulty of three moves in three years with infants. I’m sure I would not be concentrating on how I addressed the new place as a TCK, and instead I would be merely trying to survive. But I think one of the reasons that I enjoy flying (and maybe this is a universal TCK trait) is because I think there is a chance, however slight, that whatever is at the other end of the runway/tarmac might possibly be home. And that keeps me hopeful in the nervously short and excruciatingly long layovers, even though in the back of my mind I know that home isn’t really going to come until God brings me safely to his heavenly dwelling.
        I’ll be in Jordan for a semester studying Arabic and seeing if the Middle East would be somewhere God might want me to be long-term. It would be an honour to do a guest post on your wonderful blog!

        Thank you for the article on men in the Orthodox Church. I sent it on to my dad and he really likes it as well. It iterated a few of my own sentiments that I found difficult to put into words. I think, if God presents the opportunity to me, I might like to become Orthodox, though at this point in my life, I can imagine myself becoming Orthodox, and almost looking down on Protestants for not being Orthodox enough, or fall into the prideful thinking that I have finally found the only true way to Jesus. So I think for now, it is enough that I can admire Orthodoxy, and be filled with wonder and awe of the glory of God every time I step inside one of their churches, but I think the Lord will have to change my prideful heart before I can in a good conscience become Orthodox.


  2. Reading this a few days after you posted it, but wanting to comment because I so appreciate your honesty. Our first move overseas led to a marriage crisis for us as well, although ultimately I believe our marriage was strengthened (His mercy and grace, nothing to do with us). I highlighted these two sentences from your article: “Travel is a bit like a mirror that shows your real character, and it’s not always pretty. Travel is exotic only in retrospect, rarely in real-time.” So very, very true and something I have experienced over and over again.


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