20 Apr Walking Away from the American Dream
As a freelance writer, wife and mother of three young children, Lauren came from a typical suburban life in the United States. Big home, two cars in the garage, corporate executive husband and a fun little side hustle for herself restyling antique furniture. What a life, right?
So why in the world would she and her husband decide to walk away from what many perceive to be the “American dream”? In 2017 shortly after their third child had been born, Lauren and Tony found themselves very content in life, no complaints.
And frankly, that scared them! Was this it for the next 30 years? They felt themselves wanting more……
Lauren believed that contentment leads to complacency and felt life was too short to be stuck in the same place doing the same things…year after year.
When the opportunity came to move abroad for her husband Tony’s career, it was the change they had been searching for. Exciting adventures, new challenges!
And despite the fact that neither Lauren or her husband had ever been to Barcelona, they agreed to start their new life there.
At first, when she imagined what her life as an expat would look like, it included sipping frothy cappuccinos in swanky cafes, listening to the melodies of sidewalk performers and soaking in the Mediterranean sun.
And while living in Barcelona has certainly afforded many tranquila days (which is a popular phrase in Spain meaning “very chill”), everyday life is not quite that simple. Going from American suburbia with a sizeable kitchen, backyard for the kids to play, two cars and endless one-stop shopping Lauren quickly realized the conveniences she took for granted in the U.S.
The family lives in city centre Barcelona in a fifth-floor apartment. While spacious, bright and with gorgeous original Spanish character, it lacks some of the basic comforts they’re used to.
So, urban city life – not the language, culture or food – was the biggest transition for her family of five. Noisy streets, public transportation and a lack of outdoor space for the kids. As a single 20 something? It was Lauren’s dream to live in a big city. But with a growing family? It was a whole different game! It really forced her and her husband to get creative as parents and has challenged them in new ways, to adapt to a smaller living space. Luckily her three children have adjusted amazingly to their new environment.
Lauren also knows some minimal daily frustrations (like not having a clothes dryer or dish washer) have been entirely worth it! After all, what would the alternative have been? To stay in the U.S. and dream about what living abroad would have been like. She knew her and Tony would always regret playing it safe.
In two and a half short years, their eyes have been opened wide and truly inspired by the Spanish way of life. From two-hour siestas, bare-all beaches, breakfast cervezas, human castell towers, and children’s bedtime at 11PM, living in Barcelona has meant a crash course in culture shock.
Aside from some of the strange Catalan traditions, such as the caga tio or pooping Christmas log, the most notable thing Lauren has taken from living in Spain is the laid-back attitude. Coming from the Northeast of the U.S., people tend to be aggressive and pushy, always in a rush to go…nowhere really.
But the vibe in Barcelona is so chill, it can sometimes feel like you’re on vacation. Long line at the grocery store? No one’s yelling and screaming. Toddler having a meltdown at the park? Catalan parents are totally unphased. Lauren found this surprising…and refreshing! It also made her realize some of the stress triggers from back home that no one seemed to mind in Spain.
And while Lauren admits being a fast-paced person is in her blood, she also feels that slowing down is never a bad thing. She observed that Europeans live a more simple and humble life. They seem to have a better grasp on what is truly important in life – travel, culture, family and tradition.
Sure, she has a fair share of wealthy friends in Barcelona with beautiful penthouse apartments and fancy cars. But material things and social status don’t appear to be a huge priority. No one is competing with the other person or comparing possessions. Which leaves more time (and money) for traveling – which in Europe, it like second nature!
And wow, have Lauren and her family done some traveling while living as expats! Christmas in Belgium, their 10-year wedding anniversary in Prague, summer vacation in Bellagio, Italy, Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, winter in Vienna, Austria, Autumn in Rome, and birthday celebration in London. Truly a dream come true for Lauren and Tony to share the world with their three kids.
Because these experiences and so many more were all too incredible to keep to herself, Lauren was quickly inspired to take her passion and experience in writing and start blogging. Studying Journalism and Media Relations in college, Lauren had always wanted to make writing a full-time career. And although jobs in Event Marketing, Public Relations and Corporate Communications all allowed her to write, it wasn’t until starting a blog that Lauren really felt her calling as a writer.
As the creator and blogger for The Expat Chronicle, she writes about everything from expat life in Spain and family travel tips to raising children abroad. From the hectic to the hilarious, she shares her family’s experiences not only to educate and entertain readers, but also to inspire anyone thinking of making a move abroad.
She wants people to know that, yes, there will be challenges to overcome and plenty of frustrations along the way. But the journey of leaving home and venturing into the unknown is one that will change your life forever. She aims to capture that theme in her writing.
“I started a blog because a new friend in Barcelona pushed me to! I was an expat wife, living abroad with no real identity or purpose. I wanted more out of my experience here than to just…exist each day! That’s where blogging became the perfect way to capture our family memories abroad, share our experiences with others and revive my purpose as a writer.”
If she hadn’t embarked on this expat journey, Lauren would never have entertained the idea of starting a blog. But moving abroad gave her a sense of empowerment and belief. If she could relocate her entire family with three young children across the world and thrive in a foreign city, what else was she capable of?
And the greatest reward of documenting her experiences on The Expat Chronicle has been receiving notes from inspired readers. Couples that were nervous about moving overseas until hearing her family’s story. Or an expat wife who was terrified to find her place in a new foreign city until learning about Lauren’s own struggles as a trailing spouse.
The ability to fuse together Lauren’s passion for writing with one of the greatest experiences of her life, living abroad as an expat, is something she feels lucky to do. She looks forward to continue sharing the ups, downs and everything in between with women, parents, nomads, students and travel lovers everywhere.