“Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.”
Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
I’m a freelance writer who’s made the expatriate leap of faith twice; first as a lifestyle choice, and now as the “trailing spouse” of a civil engineer. Currently in Canada with my husband and children, I’ve crossed geographical, cultural & religious borders in a life that reads like an Amazon bestseller. I give a candid account of the journey here on my award-winning blog, sharing experiences as diverse as censorship in Islam, mental health taboos and cross-cultural relationships.
A perennial misfit, I’m no stranger to the road less travelled but I’ve gained priceless insights along the way. Early experiences sparked a fascination for travel and psychology that still drives me today. I first emigrated aged eight and went on to overcome an abusive upbringing and a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Marriage into a different culture gave me a taste of both the riches of other traditions and the bitter poison of racism. I always wrote as a way of understanding my experiences, and what began as a creative outlet for my most recent expat adventures grew to encompass other areas of interest. When I started getting published I realised my career had found me.
I now write for mainstream print publications and online media on a variety of topics; among them, travel/expat life, mental health, parenting and cultural differences. I’ve penned articles for UK newspapers, high-end glossies and various travel & expat websites. My series “Breaking the Code of Silence” – about stigma and mental illness – led me to participate in a research study for CAMH (Canada’s leading mental health research facility and one of the world’s largest) documenting the use of mindfulness in depression relapse prevention and helping refine an online programme to increase treatment accessibility.
In-between running around after three small kids, I also write a column for Expat Focus, an established online expat resource. You can find more details on my LinkedIn profile or follow me on Twitter @AishaAshraf1.