A battle with being an Expat

Fact: when you’re chasing everything you’ve ever wanted, at some point, you’re going to have to leave home and the people and things you love dearly. (I copied this statement)

Adam and I don’t normally write blogs about our “feelings” especially when we are missing things. We try to focus on the positive when we are away because we don’t want our family back home to read our blogs and then feel sad. We want them to see the good, exciting and amazing things that living as expats brings to our lives.

The thing is that we are human, we have families, and we too do get a little “homesick.” I don’t think it is homesick in the sense that we miss everything about America and can’t live without it. It isn’t the empty hole in our life that we are dying to go back to. It isn’t that feeling when you go away to college or move away for the first time where you feel like your world just isn’t the same because things are new. (thats actually the part we love about living away)

I tend to really miss my Family the most (and Tijuana Flats…just a side note.), especially when things are happening at home that I can’t really be apart of when living so far away…both for support and celebration.

This next week will be probably the most challenging for me living over here.

Next Thursday my Mom is having a big surgery. I have written about her condition before. Basically:

  • my mother is the strongest woman I know
  • she has been fighting a rare form of cancer since 1998. Chromophobic Renal Cell Carcinoma
  • she has had surgery twice
  • she is a patient at NIH in Maryland but due to the rareness of it, there is no study, so they treat and monitor, try new drugs and monitor the results
  • she has been on chemo every week for the last 3 years I think (at this point, I try not to count how long it has been.)
  • her cancer comes and goes, it is slow growing which is good because it allows different medicines to work
  • this year they found new tumors on her colon and now she is dealing with a new nasty stupid cancer
  • she has done radiation and chemo intensively for the last 2 months (i’m hoping that this radiation and chemo possibly, finally killed all of the other cancer too)
  • This Thursday she is having surgery, and I can’t be there.
  • The doctor is removing parts of her bowel which contain most of the lymph glands which are affected by the cancer, hemicolectomy.
  • She has to have a ileostomy (you can look it up online if you’d like)
  • Then she has to have another surgery in 1-2 months to reconnect everything.

She’s scared, I’m scared. She’s nervous, I’m nervous.

We talk everyday. She is my best friend, and I’m 7,600 miles away. 

I do my best to listen and be there for her. I mail trinkets and cards. I text (thank god for Kakao*)

She is so supportive of me (and Adam) and our decision to move abroad. She reads every blog and listens to my stories. She is the kind of Mom I hope to be for my children when the day comes.

I only hope that she feels the same way about me and knows how much I love her and she means to me.

I know the next two months with her recovery and surgery again will be painstakingly boring for her. I know she will be frustrated and I am sure she will go through a ton of emotions. I just hope she will talk with me about them and know that every second of every day I am thinking about her.

I keep telling her that next year, once she is all healed, she must come here to South Korea and experience all the great things that I have told her about this country for the last few years. I am so excited to share it with her and hope that it gives her a goal and something to look forward to.

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you,
till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer,
never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
-Harriet Beecher Stowe

I tell her to think positively and encourage her as best as I can. She is a fighter and I know will take this on as she has in the past. I hope more than anything that this will be the final treatments for all of her cancers and she can finally go into remission and be done with this stupid disease that won’t seem to leave her alone. 

I am so grateful for all of her friends back home to check in on her, help with meals and with the dogs and my Dad. He is having an emotional battle of his own. Having to be the support all these years is also quite difficult. He too is scared and wants to be the best husband he can be. He just sometimes isn’t sure what to do, (this is pretty much how we all feel). I am happy the rest of our family is so close and supportive back in Florida.

I am happy that my Mom is the woman she is and is fighting this head on.

**I love you**


  1. Not sure how the mechanics of “like” work, but I must say that our daughter knows just what to say and how to say it. This next week (anticipating the surgery) is going to be tough, but, again, Marla is a survivor. She has Avon, the grandkids, and our son to keep her motivated. I’m there for her and feel like my “hands are tied” so I do the most I can to be supportive. Again, her parents are TOP NOTCH in my book and they bring a smile to her face as well. Taking her to breakfast, lunch or dinner is a highlight of our day. And….dammit, we will get to S. Korea when this whole thing is over and she regains her strength. Not sure if everyone knows how much I love that woman….. In 35 years I’ve never loved her more than I do right now. Our children and grandchildren (not to forget her parents) are there for us and keep us on our toes. Thank God for a supportive family and friends. Nicole and Adam, you are constantly in our thoughts. I don’t talk too much on the phone because of my hearing impairment, but please know: I want only the best for my family. I want you to know that you are here in spirit. Although we don’t talk much on the phone, hopefully these words will suffice to let you know how much I love you and Adam.


  2. I really hope your mum’s surgery goes well and that she copes effectively. She sounds like a terrific woman and is lucky to have you as a daughter 🙂


  3. Nicole, Howie,
    Your posts are inspirational. Please keep me and all of us in the Marla fan club posted on her progress. Some of us date back to the late 60’s in our long standing friendships and I can’t tell you how meaningful that is to me. Keep posting and send our love to Marla. Love, Liz (Shapiro Murphy)


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