There are a few things I really can’t stand. Waiting, for example. Never liked it. Vacuum cleaning. Is there something in this world that is more boring than vacuum cleaning? I don’t think so. But aside of all this minor annoyances, there is another thing that really gets to me: prejudices about being the wife or girlfriend of a so called “expat”.
First of all, we (Mr. Belgium and me) don’t even like the word expat. It gives a sort of false status to someone. We see ourselves as people who work and live abroad. Sometimes I juse the word expat though, because I don’t have any patience and saying “people who work and live abroad” instead of expat in every conversation that I have, doesn’t save me time. So yes, I use the word, and I can’t stand myself for using it. Guess I have some more irritations up my sleeve.
The thing about being a woman and not getting the job yourself but tagging along, is that nobody takes you seriously. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard the sentence: “since you sit on your ass all day, can you do *blablabla* for me?” And it makes me so angry. I feel like a completely useless person at that moment, and it’s not even true! Yes, at night I like to watch some tv or read a book, but that’s no different than what I did in Belgium or The Netherlands.
Personally, I have my own business. I’m a freelance writer, just as I was in Europe. And as a freelance writer you never know what the next month brings you. Will it be busy and bring me lots of cash money flow, or will it be more quiet? I don’t get why that is something weird if you live abroad and not if you live in your own country. I have busy days. I have days that are not so busy. Just like the rest of you.
And yes, there are women out there who don’t have a job. But there a lot of things you don’t think about. First of all, we don’t get working visas. As the person just tagging along, they don’t want us. I was lucky enough to work my way around this fact, but a lot of woman (and man for that matter) aren’t. Second, take a look around you. How many women do you know that are stay-at-home moms? Maybe you’re mother was even one. Or your grandmother. A friend, perhaps. Are these women any different from the women who take care of their families abroad? I think not. And third, do you ever consider that maybe it was the woman’s own choice to take care of the household instead of being in an office all day and not be able to spend time with her children except for the weekends? In my eyes, that is feminism. That as a woman, you can make up your own mind about working or not.
So in conclusion, I would like to ask all of you to sometimes just keep your mouth shut. It is not easy to give up everything and leave everything behind, because the one you love has a major career chance in another country. You get a lot in return, yes, but being far from home is a feeling that no great jungle trip or beach day can replace. Us “expatwomen” stand by our man. Sometimes we work. Sometimes we don’t. But remember this: It is not your place to judge either of us. We are perfectly capable of making our own decisions. Hell, we chose to chase the unknown…