Support for Expats: ‘I Am A Triangle’, Are you?

Today, I feel a little low. I feel the need to know the outcome of this journey that I have started. But that isn’t possible. I don’t know where I am going to end up, or what life will bring in this new strange land. I have been in California for 10 months now. I am still getting used to our new way of life. My family is not here, and I want my best friend in the same time zone so I can gripe to her about my woes. The internet makes connections more convenient than ever and boundaries and borders are broken down by Skype, WhatsApp, and email. But friends and family don’t always understand what I am talking about. All they see is a wonderful opportunity for new experiences; I should be happy all the time, right? Not quite. So, I turn to the I Am A Triangle (IAAT) group to find my support.

The IAAT community, has in many ways, been an instant surrogate family for me. Naomi, who founded this group 4 years ago, has gone from strength to strength giving support to and helping those who have moved countries and homes. IAAT connects me with people who are expats, and those who have repatriated back to their own country. Spreading like wildfire over the globe via Facebook, I Am A Triangle has more than 15,000 people in the main group, and 90 sub-groups, which are location specific. On 8 August a new website, and app were launched to better support this amazing community.

What does ‘I Am A Triangle’ mean?

It goes something like this: ‘Someone from Circle Country goes to live in Square Society.  They begin to lose some of their Circle Country characteristics and take on some aspects of Square Society.  They can never become a complete Square, but they are no longer perfect Circles, instead, they become Triangles.’ You can read the full story here.

Expat Support: The Story of a Triangle

Image courtesy: IAAT

Here in the Bay Area, you can connect with the Northern Californian Sub-group, where you’ll find others to gripe to, find out more about the local customs, and get practical advice about your local surroundings.

The rules are simple: don’t be rude or you’ll be kicked out. And if it isn’t for you, just select to leave the group. It’s that easy. You can join here.

While IAAT began on Facebook, the new community is now hosted on ‘Mighty Networks’. You can access the group via a desktop or mobile app. Within the main group, you can find your location specific subgroup, as well as additional groups based on topics of interest to you, such a raising a TCK (Third Culture Kid), travel, working, food, culture and more. By introducing Triangle members to each other, through city location and topic based sub-communities, the support and networking opportunities grow in amazing ways.

I followed the group feed a while before engaging, but it wasn’t long before I felt at home here. I noted with curiosity the topics that people were writing about: privilege of a white person in India, recommendation for finding a dentist or an accountant, how to deal with relocation personnel, loneliness as a Triangle, advice for schooling TCK (third culture kids) in the different school systems, photo contests of various subjects and funny anecdotes such as having the IAAT logo put on a latte in Singapore. There is a wide range of subjects people bring up in their posts and you feel close to these people, people whom you haven’t met (and will probably never meet) because they talk about things that maybe only you thought you understood in your current life experience, things that you thought to yourself, things you were afraid to articulate out loud, and then wondered if you should be thinking that at all in the first place (I do that a lot!). You get validation at those times when the isolation and loneliness of moving can get to you and you think you are going mad. You can get as involved as you want or maybe you just want to browse. Comments are optional but I encourage you to take the time to read through the posts and comments and get to know the group. They provide so much more than just another faceless online community.



Image Courtesy: IAAT

Check out the brand new IAAT website here,  which just launched on 8th August. An auspicious day if there ever was one from a Chinese point of view! Naomi and the IAAT team have thought of everything: from relocation advice to help on cultural adjustments, international living and loss, and grief when you are so far away from ‘home’. Naomi has listened and given us, her audience, what we want. Can we work? How do we find a job? Will we volunteer? Where do we shop? How do we communicate with the locals? How do we find friends? What’s the best way to…? The answers are on the website or at least, the start of the roadmap to the answers we hope to find for ourselves. And what’s so unique is that they actually relate to your geographical area so you can find that grocery store or that item that you are looking for! The resources on the IAAT website are carefully cultivated from years of expatriation and repatriation experiences and come from a place of love and a desire to help you settle into your new location or repatriate ‘home’ with the least possible pain and suffering.

Expat Support: Where will you go next?

If you think that you are alone, think again. Don’t be afraid to reach out. I am a Triangle could be the place where you find your support network.

Life in the Bay is joining forces with I am a Triangle. We will be hosting our first local joint event in September. You can find more details here on our Life in the Bay Community Group.

About Fern Lee

Fern Lee is a writer and lawyer. Born in Singapore, she lived in London for 16 years before recently moving to California. She's learned a lot of 'do's and don'ts' along her expat journey, and is not afraid to jump in with both feet when moving to a new place. She enjoys writing about the different cultures and people she encounters throughout her global adventures.

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One thought on “Support for Expats: ‘I Am A Triangle’, Are you?

  • Naomi Hattaway

    Fern, what a lovely homage to the IAAT community! Thank you for your words and for sharing the community with the Life in the Bay family / readers! Looking forward to seeing the photos from the September gathering!