Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad featuring Lu En Aparté

Welcome to my guest post series which gives expats, nomads and immigrants a space to share their stories of life abroad and offers us a glimpse into their experiences.

The series launched with my own post, the story of how I ended up in Mexico all those years ago.  You can read it here:  Stories from Life Abroad - guest post series launch 

Each month there will be a new post by a different contributor.  They may or may not be bloggers, they could be from any country, living anywhere in the world as expats, immigrants or nomads.  The idea is to tell as wide a variety of stories and experiences of living abroad as possible, from many different viewpoints.

This series will keep running for as long as I continue to get contributions for it, so if you would like to take part, email me at mummyandthemexicans@gmail.com and I will be happy to send you the details.

Have a look at the previous guest post in this series from Andrea from Mother Tongue Notes.

This month's guest post - the last of 2018 - is from Lucie Genier-Lin, a French mum of two currently living in Mexico who writes about cooking and recipes, eco-friendly projects and green beauty on her blog, Lu En Aparté.  Reading her post here reminds me of how very different the experience of living in Mexico City is compared with a provincial Mexican city like the ones I've lived in since arriving in this country.  It's really interesting to read her perspective on Mexican life and culture.

Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series Featuring Lu En Aparté

I don’t like how, today, the word expat carries a set of assumptions like privilege, education, and class over the word immigrant. I don’t like how these two words have been instrumentalised to divide the population. As borders are fading away, a business expat is no different from a migrant worker to my opinion. They both chose to live in a foreign country for work, out of necessity or by choice. I know there is the notion of time involved but I often came across social media posts from people who have settled in a host country on the long term calling themselves expats but those coming from developing countries to their home country, immigrants.

Hi, my name is Lucie and I am French. I have been living in Mexico City for four years with my husband and our two daughters. Mexico is not the first foreign country where our family has lived in and hopefully not the last.

How’s life in Mexico City?

We came to Mexico for my husband’s job. Life in Mexico City is very pleasant; I really enjoy the mild climate. There is no cold winter – though I desperately miss it on Christmas Eve, no hot summer either. December is my favourite month of the year. With the holidays and New Year’s approaching, people leave the city and traffic becomes smoother. I feel like the city belongs to us. I really enjoy that break.

What I particularly like about Mexican society is how they value family. Family members are very close. Adults are committed to their aging parents and it’s not rare to see a grand parent attending a school event or a daughter taking care of her sick mum by having her home and providing in-house care. We often see big table booked at restaurants for family meal. I am full of admiration. I wish we could value family the same way in Europe. This is probably the Chinese side of me speaking.

Mexican solidarity

We were here when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the country. I was actually in my apartment that is on the 27th floor of a high-rise building. I was working on my MBA dissertation, so focused that I did not hear the drill. I realised something was wrong when I saw my terrified cat running like crazy to hide itself into his cat tree. I went straight to stay near one of the columns in our living room
and stayed there for what seemed like an eternity. I was so scared for my children and my husband who texted me just before to tell me he was about to hit the highway. Then I couldn’t reach him for an hour. I literally panicked and wondered what the hell I was doing here. Luckily, WhatsApp worked fine and we received reassuring news from some mothers who were at school.

Then something magical happened amidst the chaos. The fortunate ones but not only came to help the less fortunate ones. I remember I cleared our closets to send clothes and medicine to our school that collected donations and I also ordered necessities on Amazon to send to the Red Cross. Never have I felt that proud of living in Mexico. I could feel that huge wave of solidarity, it still gives me chill.

This gave me the taste of helping others. I am giving English classes at a girl orphanage, once a week. It’s my way to give back to the community. I have always been concerned by education. I believe education is key to a successful society, especially girls’ education. It feels so good to be somehow useful and I am so proud of the girls. Some of them are so receptive and eager to learn.

The Mexicans and I

I think I am – or used to be - very social. But it feels like I have developed a kind of social anxiety. Never in my life have I ever felt that ill fitted in a society. I simply don’t know how to behave anymore. For instance, people would greet me warmly, hugging me like we’ve known each other for years. Then, they’d turn their head and I would be definitely out of their sight.

I may be too straightforward to Mexican people; this certainly did not help me gain their favour. But my true nature is that if someone does something wrong, I’d speak out. Let’s just call a spade a spade! I’d point out at the disrespectful drivers, at the inconsiderate people who don’t bother to show up at a meeting without apologising. It’s probably too direct. I am now too afraid to offend anyone. This is the main reason why I decided not to draw up our life in Mexico City on my blog.

Luckily, I have a few really nice Mexican friends. I am not going to lie; they are well-educated people. The lack of education here drives me banana – I am not saying every Mexican is not educated, nor do I say the rest of the world is. I know for a fact that most Mexicans are genuinely nice and polite. For instance, a young man saw me walking by someone who seemed obviously intoxicated and he stopped to make sure I passed safely with my children. I am still holding on that to cheer me up from time to time. But honestly, do you have to stop your car in the middle of a round about to take a picture? Do you have to toss your trash out of your car window? Do you have to stop your car just behind mine while I want to leave my parking spot? The truth is there is no sense of accountability here. Nobody is responsible for anything.

♬♩ Should I stay or should I go?♪♫

Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series Featuring Lu En Aparté - Image Shows A Man With His Two Daughters In Front Of A Colonial Mexican Church

Mexico has never been in my radar. To tell the truth, I never learned Spanish at school, as I didn’t envision myself living in a Spanish speaking country. I learned English of course, then German and Italian. How ironical that I ended up here, right?

With a little distance, I am being funny but at that time not being able to communicate in Spanish was a real struggle. I never felt that frustrated. I used to take things as they came because I was speaking the language of my host country. That did not work here. I should have better prepared myself and should have learned some basic Spanish to help me navigate around the city. I didn’t speak any Spanish as I landed here and I just started a blended MBA that was very time-consuming. Time wise, I could not afford to learn Spanish. For someone as independent as me, it was really hard. Simple tasks became real pains. Mums’ group chats were the worst, every message was sent in Spanish. Most of the time, I felt so discouraged as I stared at 20 or 70 messages all in Spanish. Here if you don’t speak Spanish, you are offside.

Traffic congestion

What I dislike the most in Mexico City is the traffic. Traffic in Mexico City is bad, really bad. And it affects my everyday life. I came to the conclusion that it’s better to skip some events like evening out, birthday parties rather than spending four hours commute for just two hours of socialising. It’s sad but it’s a wise choice for my sanity. I believe that the time drivers spend stuck in traffic could be tremendously reduced if only there are actual traffic regulations.

This is the main reason why I have no long term plan here. I can’t fool myself and pretend I am enjoying every bits of my stay here, as I can’t move around the city without being stressed about running late for the end of school day. It’s quite vicious. I feel isolated, trapped in my big apartment. Luckily, our neighbourhood developed really nicely with a big family park that hosts great restaurants. I am getting my urban life back.

So nomad then?

Yes! Above all, I consider myself as a global citizen. I was born in China but I grew up in Paris, France. My father left China when I was still a baby with the objective of offering us a better future. He lived as an undocumented worker the first few years until his application to become a legal resident got accepted. I then left China in 1992 with my mother and brother to reunite with my father.

Technically, France was the very first foreign country in which I have lived. But I consider France to be my home country. Even though I was born in China, I feel closer to the French culture. I went to school in France; I speak better French than Chinese. So I genuinely applied to become a French citizen. Unfortunately, I had to waive my Chinese citizenship. But with no regrets as holding a French passport makes travel so much easier. However, I can’t and I don’t want to disavow the Chinese part of myself. I cultivate it mostly through food.

I also lived in Germany as an Erasmus student for a year and we were in China before relocating to Mexico. As you can see I also have itchy feet. I have actually developed a taste for travel since I was a child.

Food as a lifeline

Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series Featuring Lu En Aparté - A Pan With Vegetables, Meat And Noodles And Chopsticks

What I miss the most about home is that I had an office job. I loved being financially independent. I have always been proud of being able to spoil my loved ones. Having had both experiences as a working mum and now a stay-at-home mum, I can tell you something; neither is easy. Because I bear that guilt of not contributing to our household expenses, I always try to do more and more. Much more than what I was doing while working full-time. It is my way to justify my time at home. Stay-at-home mums are not well seen in France and I know that I messed up my career in the face of most French companies. So in order not to overthink and worry more than necessary, I dug my head into what passionates me the most; FOOD!

It’s cliché but I love good quality food. For me, there is not a good day if you haven’t eaten a good meal or something that pleases your eyes and your taste buds. Whenever I am asked how I liked this or that place, I will always answer by saying, “oh the food was amazing” or “it was ok but the food was not to my liking”.

If I had the choice of where I’d like to settle in, I’d go for an Asian country. Nothing like a good heart-warming Pho soup whether it’s chilly or warm outside or dumplings to soothe some cravings. Dumplings are so versatile, you can wrap anything you have on hands, season it et voila! They are so addictive; an explosion of flavours in just one bite. Unpretentiously, I decided to share what I have learned throughout my travels and exploration of the Asian cuisine with anyone interested in knowing better the true flavours of Asia that does not consist in just adding soy sauce!

If you have read until now, you surely think I am being ungrateful. I am aware that I sound like that. But trust me, I am not. I am grateful that my children get the chance to grow up in different countries. I am grateful that they speak different languages. I am grateful they are exposed to diversity and discover rich cultures. Though I feel isolated, I am grateful I met incredible few people here. I know I’ll miss the delicious avocados we eat daily, the vibe around Dia de los Muertos celebrations, the sunny winter.

Find Lucie at Lu En Aparté , on Instagram as  cook_with_lu and on Facebook as  Cook with Lu.

In 2019 I will be continuing this series so keep a look out for the next fantastic guest post or subscribe to my monthly newsletter to make sure you don't miss it!

Expat, Nomad, Immigrant: Stories From Life Abroad A Guest Post Series Featuring Lu En Aparté - Image Shows Antique Globe Turned To Mexico

Photo credit: Antique globe turned to Mexico by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash

Mission Mindfulness

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Shank You Very Much


  1. Sounds like you are a real globe trotter#satsesh@_karendennis

  2. This is a great series! I will definitely be reading! #KCACOLS

  3. Wow - what a varied and exciting life you have lead so far Lu!I loved reading about your experiences in Mexico; it sounds so different to life here in the UK. Although I can empathise with city traffic having lived in or near a few big cities (London, Stuttgart, Sydney) over the years! Good luck with whatever your future holds - wherever that might be! #KCACOLS

  4. It's lovely to read about how people end up in places they never expected and the adventures they get up to. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

  5. #thesatsesh As much as i think many people need a clear culture, I feel like so many of us are global citizens these days and thats got to be a good thing,

  6. I get a real sense of loneliness and unhappiness from you but you sound like a nomad and hopefully you'll find that fulfilment soon. Kudos to you for doing it at all. #kcacols

  7. This was a very interesting read for me. I am originally from Peru but I live in London for the past 13 years so I understand what it is to leave in a Latin country. Peru is very similar to Peru but as well has a lot of differences. Very closed friends to us that were living in London moved recently to Mexico. I even visited them in Mexico last January. They are happy there but they still can't get used to everything. The pollution is very high and affect them. The kidnapping is high too so they need to be very careful and of course the earthquakes are something that they have also experienced a lot. But the people, the food, the weather and the amazing beaches they have around is what it make it very especial to live there. It looks like you are used to travelling a lot and get use to new cultures. Hope you manage to learn Spanish. I was of the impression a lot of people speak English in Mexico, same than in Peru so it is a shame you cannot communicate as much. I wish you all the best. Thanks for sharing your story with us at #kcacols x

  8. I started on COPD Herbal treatment from Ultimate Life Clinic, the treatment worked incredibly for my lungs condition. I used the herbal treatment for almost 4 months, it reversed my COPD. My severe shortness of breath, dry cough, chest tightness gradually disappeared. Reach Ultimate Life Clinic via their website www.ultimatelifeclinic.com . I can breath much better and It feels comfortable!