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Children overseas

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by papillon74, May 18, 2011.

  1. Hi all
    My husband and I are planning on going overseas in September 2012 with our 2 children, aged 5 and 20 months.
    We know what kind of countries / schools we'd like to go to but I wanted to ask fellow parents who are teaching overseas (especially those who have moved often / far) for their perspective on how this has affected their children in terms of stability, schooling, not seeing their extended families on as regular a basis, etc...
    I know kids adapt to anything as long as parents are happy, but of all the risks associated with going abroad, this is my biggest worry, so I could do with some reassurance from those of you who have experienced it.

    Thanks in advance (in case I forget later!)
  2. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

    There is quite a bit of literature out there about '3rd Culture Kids' (admitedly, a lot of it is from a US perspective) these are children who do not share the culture of the host country, and have also not been in their parents' home country for long enough to adopt that culture.
    Google it.
    There are a few negative consequences, but then there are some really good positive consequences as well.
  3. I didn't know there was a name for it - shows how clueless I am...
    Thanks for that, I'll 'have a google' tonight!
  4. mousethew

    mousethew New commenter

    "Raising Global Nomads" is another book that could be interesting (My wife loves both it and "3rd Culture Kids" but I can't stand their "Americaness"!) We have 2 boys - one nearly 2 and one 7 year old. They were both born overseas though so it's hard to compare their experiences moving. However, the older one moved here (far east) from there (different bit of far east) about 4 years ago and initially found it tricky that he couldn't get his favourite brand of chocolate milk or thomas the tank engine trains in the shops. We actually told him we moved because we had a leak in the apartment. He's never asked why we couldn't just move down the road. However, a colleague moved with 2 girls from the UK (9 and 7 at the time) and the 7 year old turned on all the taps and flooded the apartment in hope that they would have to move back to the UK. I hope it wasn't my son who gave her the idea. Anyway, they are also settled overseas now and are moving to Sub-saharan Africa soon. My elder son idolises the UK - having only ever been there on holiday - as he believes no-one goes to school, the sun is always shining, grandparents buy grandchildren gifts on a daily basis and everyone speaks Queen's English. It's a little like the girls in "Hideous Kinky" who dream of mashed potato whilst living in Morocco. In summary, to cut a long story short... absolutely go for it: Children do adapt and learn to love the experience you are giving them... but don't expect it all to be plain sailing... do prepare for difficulty... just because they are young and their needs simple, doesn't mean they won't feel the stress of changing circumstances...
  5. Thank you so much - what a great glimpse of overseas life!
    And thanks for the heads up!
  6. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Our two are bilingual and have spent more than half of their lives 'abroad'. Both have better (UK) degrees than mine. Both currently work in the UK (one of them using both his main languages on a daily basis). Both are married to non Brits. Both couples have presented us with grandchildren.
    On the down side, both sons hated being parted from friends when we moved countries though they have both 'kept up' with a rainbow array of compañeros who jet in from all points of the compass for weddings, christenings, etc.
  7. lovely.lady

    lovely.lady Occasional commenter

    I have to agree with Mainwaring - having your children suddenly speaking different languages - interchanging between their host language and English in order to translate for their parents is just so humbling. I've found with my children having moved overseas when my eldest was 6 (he's now 21) and my youngest was just 1 year (he is now almost 11) that unlike many of their previous class mates they were more tolerant of other cultures. Also I've notied that they are not as streetwise as UK peers because for periods of time they don;t have regular access to UK tv. Also being away from extended family you force yourself as a family to do more together.
    Presently my youngest son is out playing with Italian locals speaking Italian playing football.
    Don't hesitate! Stay positive hit every hurdle by turning into a positive - I've taken my sons to Nigeria; China; Abu Dhabi; Germany; Sweden; USA; Italy and have never regretted any decisions. It's not all plain sailing but the rough is worth the smooth times!
    Good luck
  8. I'm having trouble with your maths...
  9. Thank you Mainwaring and lovely.lady, that's the kind of experience I'm hoping for my children.
    They already are bilingual (I'm one of the many Frenchies who seem to have invaded the UK and the TES fora) but I'd really love them to be able to learn other languages and immerse themselves in different cultures. This would hopefully help them grow into tolerant, culturally-aware adults (in theory at least), which can't be a bad thing.
    The Wiki entry for '3rd Culture Kids' (looking conspiscuously like a bona fide piece of academic writing for once, but it could just be me being particularly gullible) cites lack of belonging as one of the more common negatives, but the article also says that children often find a sense of community by sticking together: I know this is only theory for me at this stage, but it does look like the positives far outweigh the negatives.
    We have ages yet to prepare them (that's if we get to go of course!) but it's nice to see that others have had such positive experiences.
  10. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    One of my most memorable students (Chilean mother, Japanese father, brought up in France and South America) felt this quite strongly. The quotation (from Schubert's Der Wanderer) she put on the front page of her Extended Essay was 'Ich bin ein fremdling über all' - I am a stranger everywhere. I told her she might be in for a rough ride through life because whe had a Japanese value system combined with a South American mouth but she was highly respected and even loved by a school community which was not very accepting of foreigners.

  11. All I can say is that my daughter will be entering her 14th year on this planet soon and she has a facebook friends list to envy, Emirati's, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chilean,Egyptian to name but a few.
    She has settled easily in all the communities she has been in and being the open, friendly and tolerant girl she is has enabled this.
    We recently talked about returning home, but there was a resounding NO that put an end to that discussion.
    It is not the easiest of rides and there are many ups and downs, but it is so worth it to see your young child grow into a citizen of the world and make relationships with people and countries that she will carry for life.
    I never looked at any of the written evidence on the pros and cons of taking your children overseas, it was simply a question of 'Is this working for us?' The answer is evident when I look at my child, 'YES!'
    I can only wish you good luck and broad shoulders.
  12. I am moving out to South Korea this summer and having done the international thing on my own a few times it was interesting to find myself worrying all the time (still am so not sur
    e why i wrote that in the past tense!) Having a family in tow does seem to make it much more stressful. My little man is 17months so just starting to understand more and more English and a little German and i worry that i'm being really unkind putting him in Korean daycare. Am still hoping that there will be an English speaking one nearby but doesn't seem like it.
  13. I guess this probably is more common in 'real' international students like the one you have described, with rare dual nationality combinations. It can't be easy to deal with...
    Very wise!
    Thank you - we can't wait. I'm pretty sure this is the right thing for us.
    Seems sensible and well thought-out: hopefully things will go your way!
    don't know much about South Korea apart from second-hand annectodes
    from friends who used to live there, and they said that most South
    Koreans spoke English to a very decent standard (in Seoul anyway), so is
    it possible that South Korean daycare staff speak English anyway?
    Good luck to you and your family.
    I feel a lot more positive having read all these posts, so thanks!
  14. I would say that taking my chidren on the oversea adventure was a good thing.
    They are bilingual and have friends from all over the globe, as other posters have said about their children.
    Here's the downside for me: I rarely see them now. The older ones decided to become Global Nomads in Adulthood and the youngest decided to go to University in the UK. Sometimes, I miss them so much it hurts. But,I am convunced that we all had a better life than we would have had we remained in our nice semi in England.

  15. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    For us, it didn't work for many reasons which I'm sure don't apply to you.
    My daughter found it difficult to settle as we were there and her father was still here. She had an accident a couple of months in and the appalling level of dirtiness where she was treated made me wonder what else I was exposing her to. We then had to travel back and forth several times for her to get proper treatment which somewhat drained the finances.
    She found it dificult to make friends which surprised me as she is a fairly easy child to get along with.I was in a SMT position and I found it difficult to spend the amount of time with her that I had for most of her life up until that point. I then got a tropical illess which neccessitated me having to come home.
    So, I would consider doing it again one day but definitely not in a developing country, not with any added level of responsibility and in a place that offered equivalent medical service standards. Nothing is as frightening as having an emergency when you are in a place that can't treat it properly and I would never put her at risk like that again.
    Just think carefully about where you are going, will you have sufficient time to devote to your children and are they going to be as safe as one can ever be safe.
    Don't mean to be a prophet of doom but I wish I had thought these things through before I went so I would at least have had a contingency plan.
  16. Thanks for the advice and the different prospective yasimum - it can't have been an easy time for you.
    The places we are thinking of going to all have decent medical care services (we aren't the adventurous types), and depending on practicalities, circumstances and where we land, ideally I wouldn't be working full-time in the first instance, maybe on some kind of local contract.
    But I'm all too aware of best laid plans going belly-up at the last minute (not always for the worse though) so I'm definitely keeping an open mind.
  17. perspective, even!
  18. Pharaoh junior speaks pretty fluent Arabic. Unfortunately, he has bought into the culture a little too much.
    He rarely tells the truth. [​IMG]
    I think it would also come down to where you go to abroad as (somewhat obviously) some cultures are easier to mix into than others.
    That could be an interesting thread. How many of you have travelled abroad and your kids got on with the locals in say...Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Wales? [​IMG]

  19. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    UK expat children on the whole seem to be more well balanced, resourceful, confident and accepting of other races than their UK counterparts.
    In addition, although they are not exposed to the drink/drug/self centred/chav culture in the UK they have more confidence in themselves to be able to say 'No' when presented with a risky situation.
    If I could, I would raise my kids overseas in preference to UK every time.
  20. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Let's not run away with the idea that 'abroad' is a universally safe environment for children. As a new Principal in a prestigious school in South America I had to deal with an incident when 'students ' ran amok at the Junior Prom, smashing the band's instruments and setting fire to the curtains in the Crowne Plaza ballroom. The subsequent witch-hunt ended with 21 of them being expelled. We followed up with a year long in-depth anti-drugs campaign which revealed that 80% of the kids in Grades 11 and 12 had at least tried one or more illegal substances and around 20% were on hard stuff such as cocaine. Tower Emlets would have been a doddle after that.

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