Mindful Expat Episode 40: Divided By a Common Language: The Role of Language in Cultural Adaptation (With Guest: Claire Handscombe)

Today’s Mindful Expat Guest is Claire Handscombe!

Claire is a freelance writer, blogger, and fellow-podcaster (host of The Brit Lit Podcast) living in Washington, DC. Born in London to a British father and French mother, Claire then spent much of her early adolescence in Belgium before returning to the UK at the age of 12. She later returned to Belgium as a young adult, before moving to DC to do her MFA in Creative Writing at American University. From 2005-2012, Claire taught English, French, and Spanish to adults of all levels in both London and Brussels. In 2011, she published a book called Conquering Babel: A Practical Guide to Learning a Language.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

• Claire’s experiences of moving abroad to countries where she spoke the language, but where subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle!) language differences still impacted her cultural adaptation.

• We discuss the interplay of language and culture, including some metalinguistic cultural differences that can lead to misunderstandings.

• Claire’s experiences of the differences in academic cultures between the UK and the US.

• A discussion of why it’s important to learn at least the basics of the language where you’re living and some of the ways doing so can positively impact your life.

Resources mentioned in today’s episode:

• Claire recommended Passion Planner as a helpful resource that she uses to think about her goals for the future and break them down into manageable steps.

• Claire also mentioned the website Wordery, an online bookshop offering original editions of books from around the world — with free delivery to anywhere in the world!

• Claire’s personal essay, “How to Be British,” (which we mentioned toward the end of our conversation and which is great!) can be found here.

• To learn more about Claire’s book, Conquering Babel: A Practical Guide to Learning a Language, visit this page of her website (or the associated blog, here).

More about Claire and how to follow up with her:

To learn more about Claire and read some of her essays, be sure to check out her website, www.clairehandscombe.com.

To learn more about Claire’s podcast, The Brit Lit Podcast, where she discusses the latest news in the world fo British books and publishing, you can visit the Brit Lit Blog or visit the podcast’s Facebook page

To check out Claire’s upcoming book, Unscripted, check out its Unbound page, where it is available for pre-order.

If you’re intrigued by Claire’s admitted obsession with the TV show, The West Wing, you can check out an anthology she edited on this subject called Walk With Us: How the West Wing Changed Our Lives.

You can also find Claire on Twitter, and you can connect with her through this page of her website.

Stay in Touch!

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And, finally, if you’d like to get in touch and leave me a voice message with a question or comment that may be played in a future episode, you can do so here!

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