An American Expat’s Advice for a COVID Thanksgiving

As an expat, I haven’t been with my extended family at Thanksgiving in almost 10 years. I get it. It’s hard. On this holiday, which is so much about togetherness, being far away is so tough. But flying home 8 hours for a long weekend that isn’t a holiday where I am currently living … just won’t work. The kids are in school, we are working, flights are expensive, and travel is unpredictable. So, we don’t come home for Thanksgiving. And, it’s not easy. It isn’t a holiday here, so we have…

I was supposed to fly that day: September 11

I had plane tickets for that day. Technically, I still have them, as they weren’t used. It was supposed to be my first real business trip — Salt Lake City for a conference.

I came into work early on September 11. I had some things to finish up at the office before my afternoon flight, and I still had to go home to pack before heading out to Dulles. I got in around 7:30.

The phone rang just before 9:00, barely catching me before I left. It was my husband.


VIPKid: How To Increase Your Bookings

Welcome to VIPKid, new teachers!

Many new VIPKid teachers struggle with getting regular bookings (or sometimes ANY bookings) in the beginning. I get it. TOTALLY. I signed my VIPKid contract in December of 2017, didn’t have my first booking until March 2018 … and didn’t teach an actual student until May! Eek!

But don’t let that freak you out! First of all, my experience with getting started at VIPKid seems to be extremely unusual. Plus, I did just about everything wrong that it is possible to do wrong during my first few months. Now…

Austria’s Second Wave

I haven’t shared updates on the situation with Coronavirus in Austria much lately. That’s because it’s not as much fun to share bad news as it is to share good news. Also, because lamenting our situation here feels insensitive in the face of the terrifying numbers coming from the US. But, I feel like if I can help share my perspective on things here, maybe I can explain a bit about why I’ve been so concerned these past few weeks.

There were 82 new cases of Coronavirus in Austria yesterday. 134 the day before. 169 the day…


I think that so far I’ve been holding the mourning and the loss at bay. Or maybe the fear has held it off. Or maybe it’s been all of the practical logistics that come from suddenly having our lives upended in a terrifying way. But it’s starting to leak in. I feel like I’ve been cracked open, and now it’s all rushing in. I feel it constantly, now. I feel the size of the loss, the gaping hole left in so many lives. I hug my kids and think of the families that have lost a parent, or a…

It’s Only Fractions

I’m writing this to remind myself (and maybe a little to remind some of you): it’s only elementary/middle school and there’s no reason to be stressed out about ANY of it.

See, right now, I *know* that. But some time between 11 am and 2 pm every weekday, I sort of forget. I look at the clock, and realize we’re 5 minutes late for a Google Meet, or there’s no way we’re going to get the fractions assignment AND the reading journal done before 3:00, and I let it get to me. I get stressed, or impatient…

My heart is breaking for America. I’m standing in my kitchen boiling eggs to dye with my kids, and I’m crying. My heart is broken open. I’m crying for the thousands of people who will die from this illness, and for the thousands more who will die because there were not enough resources available. I’m crying for the lives that would have been saved if the scientists had been listened to earlier. I’m crying for Maryland, where my family lives, which will run out of ICU beds before this crisis peaks. …

Life in Lockdown

I am an American, but I have lived in Austria for almost 9 years. I am a mom of two boys, ages 9 and 11. We live just outside of Vienna. My husband commutes into Vienna for work, and I take the kids in to school in Vienna every day. Or, that’s what we used to do. We’ve been in “lockdown” since last Monday.

We found out about the new restrictions last Sunday. The order for schools to close came late the previous week, as well as almost all shops being closed. But on Sunday, it was…

Emily Calle

American mom, living in Austria since 2011. Freelance editor and writer (currently working for UNODC), teacher for VIPKid.

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