Thursday, 27 January 2011

Meet the expats: UniqueNique

UniqueNique is one of those people that exudes compassion, even if you've only met her online. She's always close by with a word of encouragement or a little joke to cheer up the day.  

Monique is our resident glass artist. If it contains silica, you can put it in a kiln and want to get something pretty out - she's your girl. She generally makes jewelry but also dabble in other crafts - like her pretty dragonfly and butterfly stained glass ornaments.

Her jewelry style range from - girly and sweet, bold and interesting to intricate and delicate - all beautiful.

She was kind enough to answer some questions for me.

Why did you move?
We came, we saw and maybe conquered, the ultimate move from one continent to another (or at least our little part of it) because my husband was transferred here.

He had a choice of Switzerland or Tucson Arizona – at the end of the day we decided Tucson as he had visited the US often and loved it here. The funny thing was that although I have travelled a lot the US was one of the places I hadn’t yet visited, but I am always up for an adventure.

Everyone we knew in South Africa said wonderful at least you won’t have to learn a new language, they speak English there as well. After being here a week I wrote back to my friends and family and said “about learning a new language, that is exactly what I am doing, I am not sure that they speak English here.” The poor salespeople I had to deal with when I first got here had no idea what I was asking for most of the time.

To this day my children correct me when I don’t speak American English, which they, of course, speak perfectly.

Biggest challenge being an expat?
My greatest challenge as an expat has been dealing with not having my family within driving distance and knowing that they are not getting the chance to see what amazing people my children are growing into. I in turn miss out on seeing theirs.

This also seems to encompass the problem of not really feeling at home in your adopted country but yet when you go “home” you don’t feel like you belong there either, you are continually caught between two worlds, like having a foot in each country but no place to put your butt. It is hard to be in a strange country without any kind of support group beyond your husband and children, but it does have a tendency to make or break your family unit.

Biggest joy being an expat?
My greatest joy is the fact that not having a work permit when I first got here gave me permission to allow my creative side a chance, something that I had been putting on the back burner for many years while growing a business in South Africa.

Finally! I could create without being sneaky or feeling guilty about wasting time. I could allow my brain the opportunity to play and experiment – now that my monster is out I never want to have to put it back in its box. This has also brought some amazing new friends into my life they have offered unending support and understanding of the trials of living an expat life and also the common trials of living life in general. This has been a lifesaver for me in more ways than one as with our recent move to Florida we are once again in the midst of trying to find our feet.

The thing about being an expat is that you learn to adapt and be flexible and definitely to think on your feet. There is something new every day and without the challenges you could never truly enjoy the rewards.

Are you an expat, going-to-be-expat or once-were-an-expat and sell on Etsy? Come and join our little group.  We understand what it's like to buy supplies and get funny looks from sales people.

Next week I'm featuring another world traveller and she also makes jewellery.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)


  1. Great interview!
    I love your description for us Expats, "having a foot in each country but no place to put your butt..." Perfect!
    Artophile : )

  2. Hey Monique,

    Glad to know more about you! You are so sweet my dear.

    Keep doing the great work!


  3. So nice to read this and find out more about the expats. Still loving your work. Thanks Jacqueline and Monique! :D

  4. Thanks so much Jacqueline - so strange to see myself on a blog - thank you for the write up it is appreciated. Love my expat friends :~D

  5. Monique comes through as such a genuine and warm person.

    I certainly can relate to your views on many counts!

  6. This is a lovely interview and a great post. Monique is really unique in the way she cheers us all up, I love her sense of humour and would be very lost if she wasn't around in our Expat corner. Nique, your replies touched my heart. Go girl!

  7. Wonderful articule! Good to know you better!

  8. This is such a delightful article, and how lovely to get to know you better Monique!

    I love that the monster is loose from the box!!

    Thank you so much to Jacqueline for compiling this too.