Any benefits of moving abroad for expat kids?

Uprooting the family, creating expat kids

We already talked about the reasons for moving abroad; money or adventure, a better life or a career choice. Whatever the reason, when you’re moving abroad with kids, the decision no longer has an impact on your own world alone, but also on the world of your soon-to-be “expat kids”.

So is moving abroad with kids a crime? Removing kids from their well-known environment and putting them into completely new settings certainly cannot be nice, right? So do we do the right thing at all? Do we make them poor, rootless creatures? Or are expat kids rather cosmopolitans, who have gained only benefits of moving around the globe?

Well, even if the decision is still ours to make, we should still listen to the kids and acknowledge their viewpoint:

The voices of two expat kids

When we started moving abroad with kids, they themselves were very young and obviously had no clue about any benefits of moving anywhere whatsoever. Now, looking back, they’re old enough to reflect on what they as expat kids have gained – and what Continue reading

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Yes, it will be Christmas! abroad once again …

Real Danish (butter) Christmas cookies can save any Christmas abroad

A corner of our kitchen table at Christmas: Danish Christmas cookies and other goodies - for a perfect Christmas abroad once again.

Christmas abroad: still same as always

As a follow-up to my first Christmas post, I thought I’d round off our holiday theme here on Expat Earth with this short post. We’re done with Christmas shopping now: All the presents are bought and wrapped, and the fridge and the kitchen shelves are packed with food.

The tree is lighting up our living room after an enthusiastic decoration session by the kids – that’s their job as always, Christmas abroad or at home makes no difference. And we’ve made cookies – real, Danish Christmas cookies!

Celebrating Christmas abroad makes simple things important

We’ll be celebrating at home this yet another Christmas abroad. That is, we’ll be together all four of us, in the city of Munich where we’re currently living, within the four walls we call home. Friends and family are far away, but still no further than a skype call – or a facebook update. In this season where expats are perhaps feeling frustrated about not Continue reading

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Moving abroad as a spouse – thoughts before the big move

What is a spouse moving abroad thinking?

A spouse in contemplation at Puuhonua o Honaunau, Big Island

I had never seen myself as only or mainly “a spouse”, but I quickly learnt the term. Not being the main character of the move, but rather the accompanying spouse on the sideline, is both easier and harder. You agree to a decision or are part of it, but you don’t have the main responsibility. The flipside of that set-up is that you cannot choose freely, but depend fully on the options given to your spouse. This can cause frustration and anxiety – frustration that is often turned towards your spouse … .

First time moving abroad, the spouse issue never crossed my mind. Two main concerns were dominant: my toddler and my studies. I had been on a few months’ maternal leave and enjoyed it, but had always had a network of friends and family to rely on. As for my studies, I had never taken a real break – even during my leave, I was used to working and teaching a little, having library and resources close at hand, and not least having my network of co-graduate students nearby.

We took the decision to go on this new adventure abroad for several reasons: we wanted Continue reading

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Will it ever be Christmas?

One of our Christmas traditions: The cheese tableau on Christmas Day.

Real Christmas?

I grew up in Denmark, where winters are cold and wet … and Christmas is celebrated indoors with a real tree, rich and fat food, and the big event takes place on the 24th of December. When we moved abroad, I of course knew that local traditions were different, but was nonetheless sure that we could make Christmas our own way, even away from home! Or?
Christmas abroad

Our first Christmas abroad was in Chile. But on a mid-summer day with temperatures around 30°C and bright sunshine, it’s more than hard to get in the right Christmas mood – no matter how many plastic trees and heavily sweating Santas you see. More importantly, Danish Christmas traditions (the rich & heavy food) are not really suited for such weather. Plus, many ingredients are next to impossible to find. Combined, these factors called for impromptu modifications of our Christmas traditions.

When the season is not quite “right” Continue reading

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Why make the big move? Adventure or career?

In the middle of the move

Thomas is contemplating the adventure of yet another big move.

Big move, but why?

Good question. Why? Why make the big move abroad? Why uproot yourself and your family? Why take the risk? These are good questions to ask yourself (and your family in case you’re not alone). Needless to say, it’d be best to have a clear answer before the beginning of an expat experience, but better late than never – so even as a seasoned expat it’s never too late or useless to ask these questions. For me it was a mix of career choice and adventure.

Career

Some may say it was an escape from the daily rut, and there may be some truth to that. However, there was an element of necessity as well to our first big move. In my field (astrophysics) most people do several 1-2 year postdoctoral stays after their Ph.D before they can even hope of securing longer-term employment. I applied for and got a 4-year Fellowship with ESO in Chile. Now, getting a Continue reading

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The beginning

Expat – what’s that?

What were we thinking?!  Our daughter was only 2 years old – surely the grandparents would never forgive us. Our friends would never understand it. We were only students, and students don’t become expats – do they? With no international experience, how could we just leave out network behind?

That first move abroad. Overseas. View of TenerifeThe Big Jump into the unknown, to another country, another culture. New beginnings, new job, new friends, new network, new everything! And learning a new word: Expat. We had made a deal, Nana and I: One semester away for my studies, one semester for hers. She’d take care of Julie while I studied, and vice versa. And so it was. Our first expat experience was taking shape.

Tenerife – Spain

My supervisor and host in Tenerife helped us find an apartment, and with his and his friends’ help we settled in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. We’ll write about the peculiarities of being expat in Spain in a future post. Here I just want to highlight what is perhaps the Continue reading

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