By Alexandra Paucescu
Looking at her you just wonder: what does this beautiful woman has to do with counter-terrorism? But after you read about some of her work or talk to her, you realize that beneath her charming appearance there is a smart and ambitious woman.
Spanish born Patricia Pazos is a researcher in international relations and holds a PhD in counter-terrorism but after she married a diplomat, her life turned into a series of diplomatic postings around the world. So far she has lived in Belgium, Qatar, and the USA.
Although she is still at the beginning of this nomadic diplomatic life, she has the wisdom that not many possess. She tells me: ‘Home is where you want to stay, sometimes you feel home in a month or you don’t ever feel home in a city. In my case, I usually adapt pretty quickly, so I would say I have several “homes”. Washington is our home now and it’s a great posting. It is so easy to find your place here!’
She admits that the US is closest to her heart right now. ‘Forty days after becoming a mother for the first time, we moved to Washington. Imagine having a new-born and 250 boxes waiting for you and saying “Hi, open me please”!’ I smiled hearing it, as I immediately thought about my own first move, to Vienna, with a toddler and while being seven months pregnant with my second child. Mothers know for sure what this means…
The more I talked to Patricia, the more I discovered her realistic and pragmatic life approach. She says: ‘Diplomatic life is made to enjoy it at its fullest. You don’t have to focus on the negative, but on the contrary, you need to take advantage of the blessings of your situation. During these last four years in the US I learned how to be a mom, how to start a business in a foreign country and how to enjoy whatever life brings. It is difficult every day, but I learnt to embrace it and love it.’
She wanted to stay active, so she decided to create a portable career that she could take with her to every new destination. ‘I’ve always known that I wanted to work in the counter-terrorism field, so I created www.TalkingAboutTerrorism.com. It is an online think- tank which trains people and also publishes analysis related to this subject, kind of a place to build bridges and fight this horrible worldwide threat.’
She is happy with her life and her job. Besides her family, her two kids and a small dog, she is focused on her own professional development. ‘Washington DC is full of brilliant professionals. It is not easy keeping up here, but the learning curve has skyrocketed for me for these past years and that’s what matters: the progress you make, no matter the posting. When you are posted abroad, try to think strategically: “is this choice going to help my career in the future?” If the answer is yes, then go for it! Even if nothing is perfect, make it the best you can and please, the kind to yourself!’
People sometimes underestimate us, the diplomatic spouses. But, as she says herself, ‘Diplomatic spouses are capable people, who are able to adapt and succeed abroad. One of the biggest misconceptions people have is our capability to get things done. During my years abroad I have only met smart and strong women, no matter the country they were coming from, that will impress anyone with their culture and strength.’
What are her advices for other spouses, at the beginning of this life adventure?
‘Do travel! Find a job or a passion that makes you happy and satisfied! Do love the ones who love you! Stay away from negative people and places! DO NOT compare yourself to others, never! Do not spend your days stuck at home, missing your other home. Get out, find friends, enrol to some classes, follow or discover your own passions, go to events and discover your new country of residence!’
Indeed, what else could I add? Most of her advices I try to follow every day, too. Optimism and openness to the new opportunities are keys to a successful diplomatic journey. Once you embarked into this life adventure, you have to make the most out of it.
Or, as she says: ‘There is only one life to live, so live it well! ‘
About the author:
She speaks Romanian, English, French, German and Italian, gives lectures on intercultural communication and is an active NGO volunteer.