Personal experiences, thoughts and opinions through travel recounts by expat wives.
Families make up international communities that form global diasporas. There are lots of untold stories of families who relocate to other countries; with the shocks, thrills and adventures they experience being enough content for block buster movies!
Well, Pearl Kasujja-Van De Velde and Julie Epenu-Robert have simplified things by giving readers an opportunity to share in their experiences as seasoned travelers who travel not for career prospects or leisure – but pack up their entire lives to move to new countries because of their other halves’ work. Pearl and Julie combined their experiences to come out with this fun, yet real recounts in “From Journey to Words: Wobbly Tales of Expat Lives.”
Travel, Adventure and the Domestic Setting – A Good Read
From Belgium, Bangladesh, China, Comoros Islands, and France to Guinea, Lebanon, Madagascar, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and many more, ‘expat wives’ Pearl and Julie have seen it all.
While their husbands are at work, and children in school making new friends, you would think they would be home learning new languages, completing another degree or managing their side gigs; however, there’s so much more.
The book – “From Journey to Words: Wobbly Tales of Expat Lives” is filled with real life experiences of years of relocation from one city to another, one country to the other, and across continents.
For over two decades, Pearl and Julie have moved with their families to over 10 countries, cities and schools – a situation that has constantly pushed them out of their comfort zones.
The book’s style of writing is friendly, inviting and relatable as they recount their experiences of trying new cuisine, housekeeper issues, medical stories while living abroad, welcoming children, changing schools, and the art of keeping friends they make; while adapting to norms and habits in each country as they discover new and unusual cultures and how they navigate through them.
How did they deal with external crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic and internal ones like ‘missing a child and finding her in the neighborhood a few moments later.
Their experiences as disoriented strangers, coping with their transient surroundings, paying ten times the amount for fast foods, house hunting adventures, starting and quitting part-time jobs, ‘black hair’ struggles, and many more have all come together to make these journeys priceless, and indeed a unique adventure – as chronicled beautifully in the book.
Unknowing that initially an expatriate’s existence can be mentally, emotionally and physically challenging, disruptive, shocking and downright exhausting, the co-authors have had their fair share of tears, insecurities and doubts about a lot of things including taking part in decision making involving their families.
They have built social interaction and networks over the years, but one of their struggles have been the constant feeling of not belonging, and they explain how to navigate that seamlessly.
In all things however, Pearl and Julie are “extremely appreciative of the incredible beauty and wonder they have seen in the world; relishing every good and bad moment, with every challenge making them appreciate their own resilience.
Foreword of the book is by another phenomenal diaspora hero, Paddy Siyanga-Knudsen, who shares her experiences since leaving Zambia over a decade ago to join her husband on a new work adventure – commencing their expatriate journey. Paddy met Pearl later on in China, who also introduced Julie to her online.
At the end of the book, Pearl and Julie’s experiences give them the boldness to redefine ‘home’, other than what the regular dictionary definition tells us.
“From Journey to Words: Wobbly Tales of Expat Lives” makes an informative, fun and exciting read – definitely a must have on your reading list this holiday season.
Pearl Kasujja-Van De Velde and Julie Epenu-Robert
Pearl and Julie met in Uganda about 25 years ago.
Pearl grew up in a small, quiet town of Entebbe, Uganda; where she spent a carefree life before her nomadic expat existence after she got married to her ‘wandering Belgian man’. She now lives all over the world with her husband and two girls for whom home is Uganda and Belgium.
When she’s not writing, she enjoys travelling, yoga, tennis, music and chicken wings.
Julie was also born and raised in Uganda; but has since called seven countries her ‘home’ for the past 16 years.
She is currently an islander living in the Comoros Islands with her husband and their four “children” (two humans and two furry creatures). When she isn’t writing or reading, she is honing her craft and growing her small handmade business, travelling, playing tennis, taking nature walks or having a good laugh!
Get your copy of “From Journey to Words: Wobbly Tales of Expat Lives” HERE.
Book Review by: Theresa R. Fianko (Founder & Manging Editor, Diaspora Digital News)
Image Attribution: Pearl Kasujja-Van De Velde and Julie Epenu-Robert/ Gareth Southwell
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