Yesterday, we stepped into our temporary apartment. As our home is rapidly being shrunk into a single container we are now spending the nights at the same serviced apartments building we stayed when we just arrived in Singapore, 4 years ago. Stepping into the apartment feels like closing a circle and is therefore pulling the four of us into deep contemplation on the changes we have all gone through in this country.
Over dinner we have shared our views of the growth we made – each one comparing himself today to his self who sat in almost the same apartment four years ago. The kids talked about the benefit of the language they acquired, their new understanding of the complexity of their identity, the maturity that came with those four years. Their father added his grown passion with life in Asia, and I was talking of my own growth and the deep transformations I have made through these years. Later, at night, as I placed the book I was reading on the bedside table its headline kept rolling in my head. And as I was drifting into sleep the realization of one more highly significant transformation we have made became clear. In the last four years we have completed our transition from Expats to Roamers.
The “Roaming” book is the new star on my (now packed) book shelf. In it, CM Patha is redefining our way of life, and with confident hand marks a line between the old ‘rich company dragged’ Expat definition and the new ‘vibrant self-motivated’ Roamer. A stormy debate in the Internet over the question why white Europeans are considered Expats while their darker skinned counterparts are considered immigrants is supporting the relevancy of this book. Patha is describing and I am reflecting on our past relocations as opposed to the current.
I see ourselves being comfortably handled through our past processes – contacted early by a cautious HR representative. Being sent to a welcome visit, comfortably accommodated in a 5-star hotel, seated in a top notch airline with comfortable connections (given a day hotel when the connection exceeded a convenient time frame). I remember not having to handle any part of the packing of our house – not knowing or even caring about the identity of the shipping company. Being nurtured and caressed to a satisfying solution when the shipment arrived with some damages.
This time, from its very beginning the relocation is done ‘the Roaming way’. Choosing the current job was a move initiated and fully orchestrated by my life partner. Once it happened, we were the ones fully in charge of all that it took to follow to our new location. A lump sum was given as a relocation bonus, but no HR phone-call was made. We were in charge of our needs. The packers are still at full power and it is my shoulder I am patting for the good choice I made in taking this specific company. Our serviced apartment may be smaller, but it’s built to our requirement. The choice of the airlines may be a more cautious one – now that we are in charge of the funds allocation, and yet we both feel we are the real captains of our life ship.
Reading through CM Patha’s book I don’t get a clear cut definition of a Roamer. And yet our new way of independently, purposefully, self-led and self-orchestrated relocation is reflected in each one of its pages. How has the last 4 years changed us? Yes, I believe through it we have grown into a real ‘family on the roam’.
By Dr Taly Goren, a long time traveler between nations and continents,
relocation specialist, parents groups facilitator, mother of two adolescent TCKs,
and the wife of a Hi-Tech Expat frequent flyer.