Our story so far...

21 Sept 2015

A few weeks back, I shared my story over on My Expat family's Instagram account (#thepiripirionmyexpatfamily). If you have just recently started reading my blog or if you are just curious, here is a quick picture-based recap of our family story so far.

Hello everyone! I am Annabelle. I will be showing you our expat family life this week. For those who don't know me I decided to give up academic life to follow my husband around Europe and spend more time with my children. I have spent most of my adult life as an expat. And I love it. 
Our family is a little like the United Nations of Europe: the other half is Portuguese, our eldest (5) was born in England, our youngest (16 months) was born in Germany and my passport says I am French. Can't wait to tell you and show you more.

Our current 'home' is Karlsruhe, Germany: 10 minutes from the border with France, between Strasbourg and Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Basel. We have been here for 4 years. The city is celebrating its 300 years this summer which is really young for Europe. It is not amazingly pretty but it is a great place to live with many green spaces, cycle lanes heaven, amazing playgrounds, and more. It is also one of the warmest cities in Germany.

Being part of the expat community means you also discover customs that are neither yours nor the country you live in's. I am lucky enough to have made wonderful friends here in the English-speaking community and so enjoyed a lovely baby shower this morning (not mine).

Before moving to Germany, we lived in Newcastle, UK. Close to the border with Scotland, we called this little corner of the world home for 14 years. The other half and I met there as students, our daughter was born there and we really loved it. We still feel a little corner of our hearts are there.

I was a researcher in language acquisition before we moved to Germany. I worked on projects looking at how children learn two languages simultaneously or a second language in the classroom. I gave it all up when we decided to move knowing full well I may never go back to that life. Do I miss it? Not really. I can never have this time with my young children again but the challenging job I can have again later (even if it won't be the same).

There is a great bike culture here. Everyone goes everywhere by bike: night out, food shopping, school,... We got a cargo bike last year and we absolutely love it. Best invention ever to carry to kids, shopping, packets, anything really.

Home, as in the place I spent my childhood in, is a tiny village in Normandy, France. The quintessential French rural life at its best: a bakery across the street, nobody locks any doors,... When you are a teenager, you don't see this side of things though as your parents have to drive you everywhere, no public transport, and very few entertainment facilities. Yet as a mum of two, I can see the appeal again.

LJ, 5, aspiring quadrilingual. She started as a trilingual but added German when we moved to Germany. She is a little introvert and most of her language learning has to be done on her terms. We do what comes naturally. We do not force anything. We are a multilingual family. I speak French to her, her Dad speaks Portuguese (when he is not travelling - so it is her weakest languages). She speaks German outside of home (kindergarten). My husband and I speak English together. She is amazing if I may say so. 

Home to my husband is Lisbon, Portugal. He would certainly not describe it as home anymore. he has very few ties left there apart from family members and a love of the city. I visited for the first time with him and fell in love with the city too. We try and visit regularly but feel so torn each time we go between family commitments and enjoying a 'holiday'

Food is a big part of our family. We love to cook and eat, of course but we also use food as a way to introduce cultures to our children. From spicy chorizo to a good old Langos (pictured), they don't have to love it (and yes, they are fussy like anybody else) but they have tried a fair amount.

We live in Germany but France is 10 minutes away. We love border living: you get the best of two countries, can hop over to buy a baguette or visit new places. And there are no border checks, you don't even realize you are in a different country. So convenient. // Pictured here is Strasbourg's cathedral celebrating its 1000 years.

I have a love/hate relationship with airports. Love it because we love travelling even with two little ones. But hate it because the husband also travels a lot on business and is often gone 2 weeks a month anywhere in the world. It is tough to be an expat mum without support and to have extended periods of lone parenting. But it also means sometimes we can get to travel with him. Not this week though.

Annabelle signing off from my week over on My Expat family. Thanks for having me. It has been a hot weekend spent around water to cool off as Germany does not know A/C. Next weekend we are off on a not so little road trip to Spain and Portugal.


  1. Great idea to do a blog post round up of your #myexpatfamily Instagram roundup.!!

  2. Wow, what a cool story! I'm amazed by your daughter's 4 languages, and as a native English speaker I'm amazed at your level of English for it being your second language. Thanks for all the inspiration!

  3. Interesting! Following you now:)


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