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Kimberly Loth Hurst, Cairo

Who are you?

My name is Kimberly Loth Hurst. I write young adult books.I’m a former teacher. I’m married with two awesome teenagers.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

We moved overseas four years ago. My husband I were both educators and met another teacher who taught at an international school in India. We never knew it was possible or profitable to do so. The very next fall we put in our applications and moved to Egypt the fall after that. We’ve always loved traveling and we wanted to give our kids the opportunity to see the world.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Well, we moved to Egypt when it was still in the midst of its revolution. Our family and friends were very against the move. Ultimately we had to decide for our family if it was the best move.

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It was hard to know what to bring and what we would miss. So many people gave us advice but until you’ve done it, you don’t know what you and your family will miss.

Are there many other expats in your area?

We lived in Maadi while in Cairo and there were so many other expats. Now we live in Shekou in China and it is very similar. It helps to live in areas where there are other expats because then you don’t feel as alone.

What do you like about life where you are?

Egypt—As a family, we LOVED Egypt so much. It was busy and alive all the time. It just had such a great energy about it.

China—We live super close to Hong Kong and it’s easy to get there. The public transportation is fantastic and it’s easy to get around. As teachers it’s amazing because the kids are so respectful.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

So this will be fore both places. It’s hard when you don’t know the language. It’s hard to communicate and be understood. Sometimes I miss American food (okay, a lot of times).

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

Haha. So many. We do dumb things all the time because we don’t know any better.

Egypt—People in Egypt are so warm and friendly. They want to hug, kiss, and hold hands. That was really hard for my kids to get used to.

China—The idea of personal space is a very American thing. In China, they want to be around others all the time. Sometimes we’ll go into an empty restaurant and when others come in, they’ll sit at the table right next to us. I was talking to a Chinese friend once and was telling her about my home in America (30 acres and a mile from the nearest neighbor) and her comment to me was, “Isn’t that scary?” To me, this is one of the strangest things I’ve had to deal with.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

Um. So we are the pickiest eaters on the planet. We did not like Egyptian food at all. But they had the best French fries we’ve ever had.

Chinese food is not the same as you get in the states and we aren’t crazy about the stuff you get in China. We’ve traveled to Beijing and Xian and the food was much better there.

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

Just go. Don’t think about it. You can’t plan for anything really because your experience will be different from anyone else who has done it. But seriously, just go. The world is an amazing wonderful place.

What are your plans for the future?

You know, we don’t know at the moment. We’re just taking it one day at a time. We have one more year until my son graduates high school and who knows after that. We’d love to get to Europe, but really, we’ll go wherever our path takes us.

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