People often say to me, “I wish I could live abroad” or “We will move when our children leave home” and I’d say…..DO IT, PLEASE!
It may seem like a lot of hassle and a lot of unknowns. And without glossing over the realities, there had been challenges along the way that sometimes made me wish we had stayed at home. For example, my youngest child, who is a British citizen, is currently schooled in Thailand and had faced huge barriers when it came to applying for medical schools back in the UK. For starters, there is ambiguity about her status and I have challenged a particular UK university (right up to the Vice-Chancellor himself) for assuming she is an overseas student without asking for further clarification. She was also unable to undertake long-term, meaningful work experience in local hospitals which is so necessary for the course. So yes, there are drawbacks, especially for a child who has to find her place back home ….. on the most difficult tier (only 1 in 10 applicants for places in UK medical schools are successful).
Formal education aside, my child is perplexed with the pronunciation of English names such as StJohn (“sinjun”), Cholmondeley (“chumley”), Althrop (“althroop”), Beaulieu (as it is written, surprise surprise), though she could speak nine different languages. What a muddled-up global citizen…though I’m glad to say that she managed to answer questions during her medical school interviews on the UK National Health Service and other UK health-related current affairs, and fared well against her peers who lived in the UK and schooled within the UK education system. And thank goodness for her very English accent …. it seems as if there is a large piece of her homeland that thrums within this “third culture” child.
And we are on the move again.
These past two weeks, as I am packing our lives away, I pulled a back muscle and suffered an allergy attack from the dust. “Whose idea was it?” I grumbled incessantly, quite forgetting that it was mine. Despite my happy life back home in the UK, I have always yearned to travel. But oh, the costs! Including trying to piece a life together back home at 50…..I sometimes envied my friends who never left our hometown.
Then I think about an acquaintance, from France, who moved to Phuket a couple of years ago with her husband and FOUR school-age daughters. They had planned to extend their upmarket boutique business on the island selling beautiful clothes. It was an experiment that didn’t work out – school fees were far too heavy a burden – and for the past month, this lady was busy selling off stock and samples for a song, as the family will be returning to France this summer. I bought loads for my daughters, because they were beautiful French fashion, suitable for a European summer, sold off at really cheap prices. They must have lost money trying to unwind a business and relocate a large family back home after such a short time.
Oh, they must have a lot more to rue than I, but guess what, I would say that every bit of inconvenience, every penny of financial loss, every missed career opportunity and every ounce of uncertainty that comes from living abroad has been worth the richness of experiencing life in distant lands …. so what are you waiting for? You only live once. And personally, living abroad has brought us closer as a family. We have also gained a few very good friends who have become like family – really, there is no substituting the richness in our lives that comes from living in distant lands for a few meaningful years ❤
PS. For a real adventure, sign up for Teach in Georgia (the country, not US state). Visit http://www.tlg.gov.ge/