5.13.2008

The Expat Arc

Moving is never easy. No matter how near or far you go. But add on needing a passport, visa, and a USDA health certificate so your dog can board an international flight, and well, that's enough to send even the sanest of people over the edge.

It has now been four months since we found out we were going to Chennai, India for our next 3 year tour. Exciting? Yes. Scary? Perhaps. Overwhelming? Absolutely!

The great thing about finding out where you're moving several months in advance is having the opportunity to do your research. Thanks to the internet I'm able to order travel books, read up on history and the country, and meet "virtual friends" in the blogging world. One of these new friends I've met is Danielle Barkhouse (Danie), an experienced Canadian expat who moved to Chennai last year.

Danie recently published a book called, The Expat Arc. It's a must-read for expats, anyone in the process of moving, ALL tourists planning a trip to India, and just about everyone else too. The Expat Arc is Danie's journal of her move from Illinois to India. I enjoyed it so much I couldn't put it down, and finished it in one night. She details everything from selling a house in the States, to shipping her dog, traveling alone with her son while her husband is already there, her first impressions, and her highs and lows throughout her first year.

While most companies help you with the physical transition of moving your stuff from Point A to Point B, they don't necessarily help you with the mental transition of moving and expatriation (adapting to the host country / culture). Danie poignantly writes about her culture shock, something that isn't widely discussed out loud, and how she slowly moved through the phases of it. She lets you into her personal window to view what it's like to live in a 3rd World Country. She gives you the tour of India through her eyes.

"Danielle's First Post From Chennai" "WoW."

"Our first day in India was fascinating and overwhelming. We woke up early and stared out the window for hours. I'm not kidding, we couldn't tear ourselves away. Inside the gate of the hotel is a lush tropical paradise...palm trees, colorful plants, interesting birds, good food and eager staff."

"On the other side of the gate is a world that I doubt I could describe. Just when I think I've seen the most fascinating and peculiar thing ever, I see something even more fascinating. Am I using the word 'fascinating' too much? Like I said, I don't believe I have the words yet."

I have a few. Eloquent, Heartfelt, Laugh-Out-Loud Funny. Danie's ability to articulate a good story lends you to visualize her in the situation every step of the way. She has the grand fortune of living on a property that is frequented by snakes, she's had several mishaps with her household help, and she's even had a run in with a large, hairy arachnid (see page 63 of her book for the nail biting horror.)

The Expat Arc is one book you don't want to miss. For my family and friends, it will help answer many of the questions you're already asking me about moving to India. For friends out in cyberspace, it's a fun read about expat life, travel, and understanding yourself. And for all of you planning your trips out to visit us in the next year, bring along your copy as you can meet the author, and she'll sign it for you! Don't delay, go to Amazon.com today to get your copy.

If you have any questions / comments / thoughts for Danielle, she'll be occasionally stopping by my blog to answer them. Just go to the comment section and jot down your thoughts there!

7 comments:

Nap Warden said...

I wish I knew about this book a year ago...my step daughter is spending her senior year in school in India...She finishes school in three weeks. It has been the experience of a lifetime:)

Simple Answer said...

Your timing in posting this was perfect. We found out today we are definitely heading to Jordan, so I ordered the book. I also really appreciate the foreign service links you have. We're not foreign service, but they do have a lot of good information.

I'm enjoying your postings!

Danie said...

Jill, thank you for the review! It's true that no matter where you're from or where you move to, there are still those steps of culture shock to wade through.

Nap Warden, I'm sure your daughter has plenty of stories of her own!

Simple Answer, best of luck in Jordan. I've always wanted to go to Petra...it's on my list! I hope you'll enjoy The Expat Arc!

Katia said...

Jill, thanks for visiting my blog. I promised Danie a review of her book as well, and still haven't had the time to do it. Danie, sorry, trying to juggle too many things at once, as usual.

Jill, each person's experience abroad is different and vastly influenced by the place one comes from and all previous experiences, among other things. But I really believe that India is as incredible as the tourism board advertises it. :) I know I've loved my time here - almost four years now. It's just a matter of learning to deal with a few frustrations - but don't we experience frustrations everywhere? - developing a healthy sense of humor, and having a positive attitude. Good luck in Chennai !

Lise said...

Jill, as Danie's sister I am glad that her writings will help you as you adjust to life in India. I am very proud of her. Having visited her for two weeks (which is a smidge of time on the grand scale of things) there is oh-so-much to see and experience. Soak it in, and I envy you for the time you will get to spend with my sister! - Lisette

Danie said...

I paid my sister to say that ;)

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