Expat Interview: The Adventures of a Seasoned Expat, Cori Parks | ExpatWoman.com

Expat Interview: The Adventures of a Seasoned Expat, Cori Parks

Follow expat Cori on her journey of meeting her husband, moving around the globe and finding her escape in fitness!

Posted on

25 July 2018

Last updated on 2 August 2018
Expat Interview: The Adventures of a Seasoned Expat, Cori Parks

Cori Parks is a seasoned expat who had her first taste of the expat life back in 1990 and has ever since been a nomad who is travelling the world. Over the years, Cori has stayed in 8 different countries and is an inspiration for other expat women. Find out her opinion of raising third culture kids, moving internationally with your pets and starting your own business all while playing house, maintaining your marriage and juggling homework and the challenges (and adventures) of being an expat.

About yourself:

EW: Tell me about yourself and your family (if applicable):
CP: My name is Cori Parks and I’m from San Diego, California. In 1983 I was an AFS exchange student to Mt. Eliza, Victoria, Australia, then proceeded to get my degree in Teaching English as a Second Language in Canada. The travel bug bit me and I’ve since been a global nomad. I served in the US Peace Corps from 1990 - 1993 in Namibia, where I met and married my husband, who is from Seattle, WA. We relocated back to Washington DC for a short time before jumping from the Peace Corps to UNICEF. His career has brought us to Kenya, Madagascar, Egypt, Cambodia, Thailand and now we reside in the Philippines - for how long? Who knows. Our first expat post together in Nairobi found me knee deep in step aerobics heaven and I set my ESL degree aside to pursue the international fitness career that I’ve enjoyed for 20 years now.


EW: Why did you move?
CP: UNICEF posts us where Chuck, my husband's, admin skills are needed.

EW: What do you wish you’d known before you moved?
CP: I wish I had known early on that “goodbyes” are not so permanent - I’ve had some difficult separations from great friends and clients only to cross paths again… Which has been great!

SEE ALSO: The Real Expat: Chasing Your Dreams to Find Your True Purpose

EW: What were your challenges during the relocation and adjusting to life in a new country?
CP: Pets have always been our biggest challenge. Chuck and I both had Peace Corps resilience so the usual frustrations, we keep in stride… With our pets though, we feel a special protection for them and worry about stressing them when we kennel them… So far, so good though!

Expat Interview: The Adventures of a Seasoned Expat, Cori Parks

Adjusting to and living in a new country:

EW: What have you been most surprised about?
CP: Both of our kids were dream kids to raise across our various postings. It surprised me that they took every move in stride.
What I was surprised by most was the Triathlon community in Cambodia - they sucked me in, pushed me to new athletic levels in my mid-40’s… I would never have thought that I could do a half ironman, (Malaysia) but I did it and I’m so happy about having that in my history.

EW: How did you become involved in the fitness community?
CP: haha - this is actually a funny story! I finished up my stint in the Peace Corps and stayed after to marry my husband… I found step classes and the teacher would count to 10 with 8 count music. That might not mean anything to people who don’t know, but step/and most dance exercise to music has to be in 8’s and her using 10-counts was maddening, although I didn’t understand why at the time. Every time I left for home in California, I upped my game with new training right through till 4 years ago when I become a Spinning® Master Instructor.

SEE ALSO: How to Make New Friends in a Foreign Country

EW: How has exercise changed your life?
CP: I can’t imagine life without fitness dominating my days… Even through my recovery of several accidents and surgeries, fitness pulls me back to health and wellness.

About your book "The Healthy Expat":

EW: What inspired you to write: “The Healthy Expat: The Expat Women's Healthy-Body Owner's Manual?”
CP: I know I continue to meet many women who just repatriated to a country they don’t really know after residing away for so long and they find it stressful to settle into communities which seem to have been static during their years of expatriation. For women who move from country to country, they are forever leaving their favourite yoga teacher, discovering a new climate which they’re not prepared to train in and struggling to hold together careers, country shifting, culture-shifting and family needs - not to mention ageing parents and their acute needs despite the distance.
Many expat and repatriated women quickly discover that they just don’t have the wind in their own sails to navigate the stresses of the nomad lifestyle after making sure their careers, spouse, children and home-country family and community are accounted for, so self-care goes out the window in order to take care of the details of expat living. I am personally inspired by the expat women who manage to overcome the challenges to make sure they are taking care of themselves so they have the strength, stamina and resilience to face unforeseen challenges, surely headed their way.

EW: Who should download the book?
CP: Specifically, the expat or repatriated woman who is frustrated by her ageing body and lack of consistent accountability as she searches for a new community for professional support or a friendly group that supports healthy living. (Like my triathlon community in Cambodia)

SEE ALSO: How to Make Your Own Life as an Expat and Why It’s Important

EW: What’s the next step after expat women have completed the book?
CP: Many women can persevere through the changes and get back to her anchoring self-care following moves. This book can serve to remind women that they have what it takes to stay fit and healthy.
For some, though, I am prepared to set up affordable community challenges for eating well, exercising or a combination of the two. I have apps that I’ve customised so that I can send workouts that I design either for a group or for individuals. I am also a Precision Nutrition ProCoach - and can take women (only 10 at a time, as this is intense) through a year of nutrition coaching - really good for women who feel a steady weight gain with age.

Expat Interview: The Adventures of a Seasoned Expat, Cori Parks

Advice for other expats:

EW: What top tips do you have for anyone considering to move abroad?
CP: My advice for parents is to embrace an expat life for their children who grow up naturally as aware global citizens. Also, keep your pets with you no matter what! Your children watch and care for the compassion you show your fur-babies. They (the pets) have been our biggest challenge and part of our greatest joy!

EW: What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt as an expat?
CP: Actually - I learned this just before moving overseas. My mother told me, as I headed to Africa for my two-year teaching stint with The Peace Corps, to look everyone in the eye with respect because you just don’t know who might save your life one day. I raised my children with this notion and they are respectful, compassionate young adults now.

The Expat Life:

EW: What’s the best thing about being an expat?
CP: I believe I love going to where I grew up in coastal Southern California a lot more than had I stayed there. I have a big appreciation for it - absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess.

EW: How do you keep a little bit of home with you as an expat?
CP: Photos, really. Our summer home leaves back in the US across the years were a succession of highlights for our young-family years. Now that we’re nearing retirement, and looking to relocate back to the US in the next 5 years, I’m holding on to things I’ve collected along the way to take home.

EW: Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us about your expat experience?
CP: I feel there is a special recognition among expat women - in a way that the popularised Third Culture Kid phenomenon is recognisable amongst other TCKs. Expat women have a common experience of uprooting, support and searching for new avenues in self-care. I remember when I decided to really lean into my fitness career. On the international scene I have been afforded great opportunity that I may not have gotten had I stayed where I was from, and I’ve brought that in to my teaching of new fitness instructors and personal trainers.

SEE ALSO: The 2018 Top 10 Most Expensive Cities to Live In

ExpatWoman readers can get a copy of Cori's fitness book 'The Healthy Expat: The Expat Women's Healthy-Body Owner's Manual' by clicking here!