The Expat Woman

Celebrating Different Cultures and Heritages

“It is the birthplace of reggae, ska, dancehall, and dub music.”

“We are one of the nations that celebrate name days in parallel to birthdays or even instead of them.”

This month is Immigrant Heritage Month and to celebrate, I put together this blog post to celebrate and share the experiences and reflections of some of the expat women members of The Expat Woman who have lived in countries across different continents. They talk about their unique perspective on how their cultural heritage has shaped their identity and enriched their lives as expats.

From the vibrant rhythms of Jamaica to the rich textiles of India, the lush landscapes of Poland, and beyond, it’s an interesting read.

Jamaica - Lorna Blake

“While I have lived in five countries on three different continents and have citizenship in more than one country, whenever I’m asked the question, ‘Where are you from?’, I always reply proudly, ‘Jamaica.’

It is the land of my birth and the place where I was taught strong principles that set me up to soar in life. While this little island is just a dot on the map, it is a force to be reckoned with around the world. It is the birthplace of reggae, ska, dancehall, and dub music. It has produced many famous musicians, including the incredible reggae music legend Bob Marley. Jamaica, an island nation of less than 3 million people, regularly dominates the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints at the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, and World Championships.

Jamaica also gave birth to the religion of Rastafarianism, which combines biblical principles, spirituality, a pan-African consciousness, and health-consciousness. This movement has gained traction globally. Want evidence of how it’s showing up today? Check out the very trendy ‘locs hairstyles’ worn by men and women from all over the globe. One of Jamaica’s mottos is ‘Wi likkle but wi tallawah.’ It means we may be small, but we are a mighty force to be reckoned with. We are strong.”

A Life of Many Cultures - Samantha Frearson-Tubi

“Many people presume that I was born and bred in the UK due to my British boarding school accent. I wasn’t born in the UK or grew up there, but I do sound very British, which is where the confusion lies. Being a Third Culture Kid and having lived in 17 countries and counting, I can share many unique things about many of the countries I have lived in. Many of my fond memories relate to the foods I have encountered, such as the mouth-watering pain au chocolat and succulent mangoes in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, the beef noodle soup in Hong Kong, the abundant arrays of plantain dishes in the DRC, the freshest uni sushi (sea urchin) in Tokyo, the delicious Tubettini con le Cozze in southern Italy, the apple-tasting hookah pipe in Egypt, and the oliebollen in the Netherlands.”

India - Ramani Manasa Muktevi

“When I think of India, it’s the flavors and colors that first come to mind.

Flavors because Indian cuisine is so diverse, and each dish packs in multiple flavors. The world knows Indian food as butter chicken and naan, but fun fact: my family and my husband’s family, as well as many families in India, don’t eat naan or butter chicken. I don’t think my grandmother has eaten naan to date, and she’s 82 and very much Indian.

Colors because each state in India has its unique textiles and embroidery. From the vibrant Kanjeevaram silks of Tamil Nadu to the elegant Pochampally of Telangana, and from the Bandhini prints of Rajasthan to the Phulkari from Punjab and many more, I’m in awe of the elaborate designs and the unique color combinations. Cherry on the cake, India managed to land on the Moon and has firmly etched its place in the world of space science. And I know this is just the beginning for my country. Always a proud Indian!”

Poland - Izabela Jastrzebowska

“I’ve had the pleasure of living in several countries, including Poland, Denmark, and the United States. Each place presented unique opportunities and challenges, which I always tried to turn into positive experiences.

I was raised in the ‘Country of 1000 Lakes’ in Poland. This region is located in a natural, lush green environment with deep forests and lakes full of fish. Eagles, storks, cranes, and herons live close to people, and my family has been guarding lakes for four generations. This remarkable region influenced my sensitivity, intuition, and sense of belonging with nature. These abilities supported me while living in metropolitan areas like Warsaw, Copenhagen, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Poles are amazing cooks. One of our favorite dishes is zander with lemon sauce and raisins. We specialize in making desserts from rich, delicious yeast dough stuffed with various kinds of fruits, especially blueberries and strawberries. Part of our identity is being Slavic at heart. This means that we have big hearts and enjoy interacting with other people. We love to feast and celebrate every possible occasion. We are one of the nations that celebrate name days in parallel to birthdays or even instead of them. Poland has a beautiful history and tradition of immigration, with many stories of cross-border help given by Poles to other countries like the USA, Ukraine, and Lithuania.

I currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area. What I like best about it is the diversity of nations, traditions, and cuisines infused into our daily life.”

And talking about culture and heritage, sharing this blog post and video I did where you get a peek into the 7 common cultural questions I get asked in the US because I am Indian.

Is there one unique thing about your country or what you love about your country of origin or the country you currently are an expat in? Do share in the comments.

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Nyna is the Founder and CEO of The Expat Woman, a global platform focused on connecting, supporting and empowering women who have moved abroad or plan to relocate. She is also a LinkedIn coach, consultant, trainer and speaker. LinkedIn played a huge role in my professional journey abroad, helping me build a network of powerful expat women and allies.

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