An Interview with Lauren Rose: Expat, Trailing Spouse, Mental Health & Wellness Speaker
Her Expat life had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Rose, a fellow expat, trailing spouse and mental health & wellness speaker, to find out what expat life has been like for her.
1. Where are you from (yes may be complicated but what's your nationality?) and how did you
begin your expat lifestyle? As a student, entrepreneur, trailing spouse, professional, retiree, etc?
And tell us about that journey.
I am an American— born in New York, raised in Florida, and moved to San Francisco shortly after
graduating from the University of Florida. My expat life began as a trailing spouse in 2018 when my
husband returned from a business trip in Australia and asked if I was interested in moving to Singapore.
My response, “Yes! Where is Singapore?!”
2. Is living the expat lifestyle or international life something you grew up in? When you began
living as an expat did people in your immediate support you ? Scared for you? Against your
From a young age, I found the idea of living abroad appealing, I just had no idea how I would make it
happen for myself. By the time we moved abroad, I had already been living 3,000 miles away from my
family in San Francisco, so there wasn’t much resistance to relocating to Singapore since it wouldn’t
really change our relationship all that much— we’d still be a plane ride away and using FaceTime to stay in touch. When I told my sister that I was moving to Singapore, she cried because she was genuinely afraid that I was going to get arrested for breaking a law that I didn’t know existed. For the first year, every time I spoke to my family, they asked me to come home. It hurt to hear them say that, but I know it came from a place of love. Eventually they stopped asking.
3. What cities/countries have you lived as an expat? What were the pros, such as finding
community, housing, neighbourhood, social life, schools, work, engaging in hobbies? What were
the cons or challenges: securing a visa, integrating into a new culture, language barriers, finding
housing, making friends, feeling at home, building a support network?
Pros: living expenses are relatively low, many expats to meet.
Cons: difficult to get work on a dependent visa, it’s either sweltering hot or raining all year round, transient with expats moving and leaving often.
Pros: strong and welcoming expat community, clean, safe, culture, food.
Cons: language and culture, local people were generally not interested in building friendships (the
exception were those who had lived abroad themselves).
Pros: easy to get work on a dependent visa, language and culture are more familiar.
Cons: dirty, less safe, public transportation is less reliable and more expensive.
4. Do you think it's much easier to live as an expat woman now than the previous generation of
women from your family?
My friend’s mother lived in Hong Kong in the early 90’s and I frequently reflect on how much easier I have it than she did. I regularly take moments to appreciate the internet, because without it, I would have had to rely on “snail mail” or pay phones to communicate with my friends and family back home. Now I can just pick up my hand-sized computer from the comfort of my couch, tap the screen and see my mother’s face in a matter of seconds… from around the world! It never ceases to amaze me and this was especially true during the pandemic when everyone had to shift online to communicate, to have groceries and household supplies delivered.
5. How were you able to maintain well-being, happiness, and professional goals as an expat
As a mental health professional, I am fortunate to be well practiced with a wide variety of strategies in my mental health toolkit. Though it wasn’t easy at first, (and then compounded by the pandemic) I made it a routine of regularly exercising, practicing mindfulness, and creating artwork— I still keep track on a calendar so that if I am feeling low, I can look back and see when was the last time that I practiced these strategies. I also make it a point to keep in touch with my friends and family back home and around the world: scheduling phone calls, zoom dates, sending snail mail and emails, using social media to actually be social rather than mindlessly scrolling. Professionally, as a trailing spouse, I had the flexibility to work part time as a mental health and wellness speaker for companies in APJ and to spend more time pursuing and developing my artwork.
6. How was your life different from the local women and families?