Double vision in by jennyyingdi

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									                                           ExpatS
                                           WorldWidE




                                                            Double
                                                           vision in
                                           Mexico
                                                                        Jill Lengré & Andrea Martns




                                                                                                                                     Jill Lengré & Andrea Martns
                                           Jill Lengré and Andrea Martins, founders of ExpatWomen.com,
                                           share their thoughts on what it is like to live in one of the most popu-
                                           lated cities in the world.
                                                                                                      When and why did you move to mexico?
                                                                                                      Whose idea was it?
                                                                                                      Jill: I moved to Mexico City from Paris in
                                                                                                      January 2003 with my now ex-husband. He
                                                                                                      was transferred here by his pharmaceutical
                                                                                                      company to open up a subsidiary firm.
                                                                                                      Andrea: I arrived a few weeks after Jill. We
                                                                                                      came to Mexico because my husband was
                                                                                                      cross-posted from Indonesia to Mexico, with
                                                                                                      the Australian Embassy.

                                                                                                      What are the attractions of living in
                                                                                                      mexico city?
                                                                                                      Jill: I live in Polanco, which is an inner-
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                                                                                                      city area full of great facilities. I love

               8   January/February 2008
being so close to everything that I need       we arrived. Consequently, whilst I was                                       Andrea: The city boasts some delicious
– I only have to walk ten minutes in any       quick to find expatriate friends who spoke                                   culinary treats. In the cosmopolitan neigh-
direction to get to my children’s school,      English, it took me more than a year to                                      bourhoods of Polanco, Condesa and
to visit the supermarket, to go to the cin-    feel confident enough to speak the local                                     Roma you will typically find the trendiest
ema, enjoy the sports club, shop, or dine      language with native Spanish speakers.                                       restaurants, bars and shopping malls.
at some of Mexico City’s best restaur-                                                                                      Family entertainment in Mexico City
ants. Even though it is a very large city, I   is there a large expatriate community in                                     includes some great sports clubs, activity
do not get a sense of that on a day-to-        mexico?                                                                      centres, theme parks (both large and
day basis.                                     Jill: Mexico has a huge expatriate popu-                                     small) and the city zoo which is in the
Andrea: I love the vibrancy … the col-         lation, the largest community being                                          midst of a huge public park full of lush
ours … the European flavour of the city,       Americans, which makes sense given that                                      green lawns, a pretty castle, a small lake
which is the result of its Spanish history.    the two countries share a common bor-                                        with paddle boats and the wonderful
Then there’s the variety of places to visit    der. Other countries with large expatriate                                   Papalote Museum for children.
– Mexico is home to so many beautiful          populations here include Guatemala,
sites. You can check out ancient ruins,        Spain, Canada, Colombia, Argentina,                                          how do you fill your days?
pyramids, churches, cutting-edge mod-          Chile, Peru, El Salvador, Brazil, France                                     Jill: In addition to working with Andrea on
ern architecture, small towns with cob-        and Germany.                                                                 ExpatWomen.com, I also act as a consult-
ble-stoned streets and multi-coloured          Andrea: There are also many enclaves of                                      ant for computer companies on various
old buildings, beautiful coastlines, crys-     retired expatriates (mostly Americans) in                                    marketing projects.
         Jill Lengré & Andrea Martns




                                                   Jill Lengré & Andrea Martns




                                                                                              Jill Lengré & Andrea Martns




                                                                                                                                                                    Jill Lengré & Andrea Martns
tal blue waters, dolphins, butterflies, for-   Puerto Vallarta, Lake Chapala and San                                        Andrea: During the first few years, we
ests, mountains – the attractions are          Miguel de Allende. In the city itself,                                       both focused on learning the language,
endless.                                       Polanco has many expatriates from the                                        raising our children and participating in
                                               French and Japanese communities.                                             local expatriate groups, which is typical
What were your biggest hurdles during          Nearby, in the neighbourhoods of Lomas,                                      of most foreign trailing spouses living
the first year in your new home?               Interlomas, and Santa Fe, you will find                                      in Mexico City. Then, early in 2006, Jill
Jill: I was pregnant with my second baby       more American expatriates.                                                   and I started working together to create a
when I arrived, so the altitude took some                                                                                   networking and resource website for
time to adjust to – Mexico City is 2,240       tell us a bit about mexico from the point                                    expatriate women all over the world. We
metres above sea level. Many people            of view of a foreigner/expat                                                 wanted to help women in the same situ-
back home do not know this and tend to         Jill: Mexico has so much to offer in terms                                   ation as us, who move around to live in dif-
associate the city with golden beaches.        of culture – this is the land of the Olmecs,                                 ferent locations. We wanted to help them
I also had to learn Spanish. Luckily,          Mayans and Aztecs. Just outside of the                                       find the best expat resources and to stay
I already spoke French when I arrived, so      city you will find the Teotihuacán pyra-                                     positively motivated while living abroad.
I could understand quite a lot, although it    mids while inside the city there is the
still took some time to become proficient.     Templo Mayor. The country also has some                                      At the beginning of 2007, we launched
Andrea: The language definitely proved         of the most famous beaches in the world                                      the global website which now has more
to be a problem. Trying to juggle the          (Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San                                           than 4,500 pages and attracts nearly
demands of a new baby, I found it difficult    Lucas, etc). There is certainly plenty to                                    20,000 unique users around the world
to follow intensive Spanish classes when       visit on vacation!                                                           every month.

                                                                                                                                                                                            9     >
                                                               ExpatS
                                                               WorldWidE


What services and support groups are                           clean the house and take care of the chil-                               expatriate friends. Now that we have been
available for foreigners/expatriates?                          dren is just part of the culture. I have been                            here for five years, most of his friends are
Jill: There are many groups in Mexico                          very lucky and have a wonderful maid.                                    Mexican, because he knows that they are
City and elsewhere across the country                          Andrea: There are plenty of childcare                                    not going to move away like his expat
where there are large expatriate commu-                        centres in Mexico City. When I was in Polanco,                           friends tend to.
nities. We list a lot of these on the Mexico                   I took my children to a childcare centre that                            Andrea: My children have been raised in
pages of our website.                                          was just three blocks from my house, but to                              Mexico from the age of one and two
Andrea: In Mexico City, two of the most                        walk to it I would pass three other childcare                            months, so they know no different. They
popular organisations are the (English-                        centres in that short distance!                                          speak Spanish and have lots of friends in
speaking) Newcomers Club and the                                                                                                        Mexico – both expatriate and Mexican.
(French-speaking) Mexico Accueil. These                        how have your children coped with the
groups provide great networking events,                        move?                                                                    how did moving affect your
plus resource guides for newcomers to                          Jill: My son has adapted very well. We                                   relationships?
the city.                                                      sent him to the French school so it was                                  Jill: Unfortunately, moving did affect my
                                                               very easy for him to continue to communi-                                relationship, and I recently got divorced
has finding childcare been a problem?                          cate with his teachers and learn Spanish                                 as a result. My advice would be that mov-
Jill: No. The wonderful thing about Mexico                     during the holidays. He is now trilingual                                ing is not a good idea if your relationship
is that childcare and/or maid services are                     (and probably was six months after arriv-                                is already not secure. The pressures of
very affordable. In fact, when you look for                    ing here!). He has made friends very eas-                                moving can affect even the strongest of
an apartment or a house you will notice that                   ily – for me that has proved to be an                                    couples. The most common reason for
they all include a maid’s room and bath-                       interesting phenomenon. At the beginning                                 break-up seems to be infidelity – whereby
room. Having someone living in to help you                     (first and second year), he had more                                     one partner (usually the working partner)
         Jill Lengré & Andrea Martns




                                                                                                                Jill Lengré & Andrea Martns




                                                                                                                                                                                   Jill Lengré & Andrea Martns
                                                                   Jill Lengré & Andrea Martns




                                                                                                                                        succumbs to local cultural influences and
 What are your top five tips for people moving to Mexico?                                                                               cheats on their spouse.
                                                                                                                                        Andrea: My marriage is still alive and well,
 1. Prepare for your move: learn all you can so that you can settle in as quickly as                                                    but Jill is right – many expat working part-
    possible.                                                                                                                           ners (perhaps intoxicated by the status
 2. Learn the language: take classes before you arrive and/or enrol in intensive classes on                                             and attention they receive in their new
    arrival.                                                                                                                            location) ‘stray’ when they are abroad.
 3. Start building new support networks straight away: you can’t manage it all alone and,                                               Admittedly, I witnessed this more in
    as is true of any new location, you will need someone to call if you have an emergency                                              Indonesia than in Mexico – but I am sure it
                                                                                                                                        happens everywhere. If your relationship
    at 3am.
                                                                                                                                        is rocky, going abroad may not help it.
 4. Plan trips within Mexico: try to avoid simply going home whenever you take a
    vacation. The more you see that paints a great picture of your new country, the better.
                                                                                                                                              If you would like to comment on our
 5. Relax: do not try to control everything. You are learning about a new way of living
                                                                                                                                              contributions from expats abroad or
    (probably with some degree of culture shock) so be kind to yourself and allow enough
                                                                                                                                              share your experiences, please write to:
    time to adjust to Mexico – your new ‘home’.
                                                                                                                                              editorial@awaymagazine.be


10                                     January/February 2008

								
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