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Jen, Santo Domingo

Who are you?

I’m Jen, a storytelling island mom-wife who writes for Drinking the Whole Bottle. I’ve been published on the Huffington Post, Matador Network, and Elephant Journal and am also a contributor for Wanderlust and Lipstick and Women Who Live on Rocks. I also have a habit of rescuing street animals.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

In December 2010, my then-boyfriend and I made the decision to teach abroad. We had talked about it before but finally made the decision to do it.A month later, in January, we discovered that we might be pregnant. In February, that was confirmed. In July we were married and in August we were moving to the Dominican Republic; awaiting our first child who was born in October.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Ummm…. did you read the above answer. Moving abroad as a seriously pregnant woman was a challenge that trumped everything, though looking back, having that challenge to focus on at the time made the actual move less scary. My life in every way was changing and the change from single and childless to married with baby was way scarier than any move abroad.

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Are there many other expats in your area?

We are fortunate to work at an international school that has a built-in community for us and our kids. Sometimes people complain that having other expats around takes away from the foreign experience, but I feel like the experience is what you decide to make it. I feel completely blessed to be surrounded by these people while still forming relationships with local Dominicans.

What do you like about life where you are?

I love the choices that living here provides us. We have been able to afford living on just my husband’s salary since we moved here. We have two kids, two dogs, a nanny, and a maid that comes once a week. We go away for a few weekends and travel to the States to see our families for Christmas and the summer. I love that every day is full of options and that life is slower here, more simple. We have the time to focus on the things and people we love instead of running around counting the hours we have left in a day, worrying about all the things we didn’t get done.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

The only thing that I find really hard about expat life is being away from my family and friends – not all of them – but most. 😉 Besides that, there isn’t really anything I can’t get over.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

Dominican Republic is very laid back about everything. Red lights are a suggestion, car seats are not mandatory, waiting in lines are … what’s a line? lt is a far cry from the rule following culture of the States. Some days I love it. Some days I hate it.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

My advice to someone thinking about living abroad is to not think about it so much and just do it. The worst that could happen is you don’t like it and leave. Advice I would give to someone living abroad would be to give it time. Everyone has a tough time adapting. My parents are Cuban and the cultures are very similar. I also knew the language when I moved here. I still had a hard time adjusting. You have placed yourself out of your comfort zone and it will take a while to feel like you’re in a groove but it will happen.

What are your plans for the future?

Husband and I have lots of plans. Maybe we’ll go to Cuba next? We’d like to stay somewhere Spanish speaking for a little while longer. If that doesn’t work out maybe we’ll go somewhere in Western Europe. Asia at some point might be cool. Costa Rica would be pretty awesome. So would Germany. The truth is, we don’t know. Well, we do know that we’re not going back to the States, at least, no time soon. As far as what’s next for us… for now, we love where we are and the lifestyle it provides our family, so we’re staying put.

You can keep up to date with Jen's adventures on her blog, Drinking The Whole Bottle.

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