What's your bubble?
Putting my kids into an International School was a drama for me. You might ask why I was upset; This is a leading International School in Europe and they are lucky enough to attend. It is simple, I felt I was going into what I had always called ‘the bubble.’ I was entering a territory I did not want to enter, an area I had vowed not to enter. I am guilty of saying in the past, ”Oh you have your kids in a private school; you aren't living the experience.” Now when someone asks me, “What it is like living in the expat bubble?” I have a simple answer, “I miss being connected to my neighborhood.”
While watching the homeless in San Fransisco a thought hit me, something I’ve always known, but just hating admitting, I was always in a bubble. We all live in bubbles; the homeless bubble, the Mormon bubble, the Southern California bubble, the hipster bubble, the teenage bubble etc. We live in bubbles thinking ours is the superior bubble or wishing to be in a different one. I have found I grow when I let my bubble burst. Every move I’ve made this happens. I look back at the place I’ve lived and see what I could never see before, what I did not want to see.
I never felt comfortable in a single bubble and so the way my life has turned out should not surprise me. In High School, I floated from group to group slotting in with student council members, cheerleaders, football heroes and the geeks feeling comfortable everywhere. Why then did I feel so shocked last year when people told me I no longer belonged to ‘my nationality bubble.’ I should have known this as well.
I was asked recently the typical question “Where are you from?” and a friend laughed loudly and answered for me, “It depends on who you ask!”
He knows me well enough to know the nomad that I have become, fitting in all over the place and sadly not truly fitting in anywhere; it happens to many expats.
—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife