Time for another addition of Recommended Reading! There are several posts from expats in this week’s collection, sharing their experiences abroad, and reflecting on issues of belonging and identity that affect anyone with a cross-cultural background.
The good, bad and frantic of raising kids overseas
While this piece is specifically about missionary families raising kids overseas, there are some really good insights about parenting TCKs in general. This, for example:
“You can never be fully ‘present’ in your host country because at some level you’re always preparing your child to live in your passport country, either for home assignment, or for your eventual return. But then, you also aren’t parenting in your passport country so are influenced by your host country.”
TCKs and Education
Diary of a Desi TCK
Long but interesting post from a TCK (and school psychologist in training) talking about some of the difficulties of changing schools – and hints to help families do this well.
“I genuinely believe that being a TCK is one of my life’s biggest blessings (though sometimes I can see it as a curse, such as when I lose touch with friends due to the constant distance) and I think that any child who has lived a similar life is so lucky. Through our TCK lifestyle, we gain a unique and wonderful understanding of the world, one that I feel you can’t really get otherwise. You understand other cultures in ways that you can only if you experienced them for yourself. That said, sometimes certain things, such as TCK education (ie. the education of a TCK) can be negatively affected by this otherwise extraordinary lifestyle.”
Rania – Reflections on Place, Work, and Travel
Communicating Across Boundaries
Marilyn continues her beautiful writing as she reflects on building a new home in a new country. This short post is a lovely tribute to the beauty (and cost) of creating home again.
“I walk up the three flights of stairs to our apartment and unlock the door. I step inside and breathe a sigh of gratitude. No matter where you live, you need a home base. This is why the displacement and refugee crisis of our time is so important to care about. We are created for place. What happens to us when place is disrupted, creating fear and insecurity? This is the question trauma experts will be called on to answer for decades. This one bedroom apartment has quickly become our place and haven.”
Expat Parenting: Learning to Leave it All on the Stage…and Teaching our TCKs to do the Same
World Tree Coaching
This post talks about redeeming one of the trickier parts of life for expats who move frequently. Those transitions can be overwhelming! But they also give a freedom to try new things: “Something turns out not to be what you anticipated? Who cares! Next year it’s a clean slate – new home, new friends, new school.” Obviously it’s not that simple, and this isn’t about whitewashing difficult experiences. Instead, there’s an offer to think differently – to reframe an experience, and see what you can get out of it.
“I also reminded my son that it’s important to remember that sometimes things will hurt. You might feel embarrassed or regret a choice you make. Leaving it all on the stage is not about creating a myth that everything will work out fine, it’s about seeing that challenges are a normal part of our existence (no matter where we go) and that our lifestyle, in it’s extreme flexibility, offers the opportunity (and maybe even the anonymity) to recover faster when things don’t go your way. Leaving it all on the stage is the ultimate embrace of the inherent ambiguity and unpredictability of life – a reality that expats face over and over again, every day.”
The Joy of Life
The Black Expat
Interesting post introducing Martine Ngo Nlend Manga and her wide range of international experiences. I particularly love these reflections on balancing global life nad the need for a place to be ‘from’. This can be a struggle for TCKs – when you have a less clear sense of ‘from’ centred in place.
“Being a global citizen, at least for me, only works when you know where you are coming from. Because at some point, wherever you go, people ask you where you are from. And it can be complicated. . .Global citizen cannot be enough. Where can you go back to, if things get complicated? But I was born in Cameroon. There is a personal culture attached to it, even if I’ve had international experiences. No matter where I go, I will always be seen as Cameroonian, especially when encountering others from Africa. Even when welcomed with open arms, I’m from there. Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it’s a bad thing. But it’s a part of my identity and in [some] people’s minds it won’t change. And it’s a good part of my identity.”
Why Swedes are Happier Than We Are: An American Perspective
This post is an interesting example of what I consider to be one of the biggest benefits of living overseas – gaining a perspective that helps you evaluate your own culture more objectively. In this case, an American expat compares aspects of life in her passport country to that in Sweden, where she now lives.
“This word is uniquely Swedish, and a direct translation does not exist in the English language, which is the best evidence of the purity of its genesis. Roughly translated, it means something akin to “not too much, not too little,” “sufficient” or “adequate”. For example, you can have a lagom number of meatballs, live in a lagom apartment and have your heating set at a lagom temperature. For me, this single word “lagom” encapsulates the entire Swedish socially-democratic philosophy on life: that everyone should have enough, but not too much (which is antithetical to the stereotypical American capitalist mindset).”
Living a meaningful life abroad: identifying your values
Nice post about how identifying and living our individual values helps up to make the most out of life – even in the midst of frustrated plans and everything else that goes along with international life.
“Values are unique to each and every individual. There are no right or wrong values. They are related to what you ultimately want your life to be about…being aware of our values allows us to enjoy the moment rather than being overly focused on completing our goals. Instead of being focused on arriving somewhere, we can also enjoy the journey. We don’t need to wait until we achieve our goal to start living a rich and meaningful life, we can find small ways to live in accordance with our values each and every day.”
Gidday, Ni Hao, Kia Ora……Can You Have More Than One Hometown?
Mint Mocha Musings
Nicole took a trip to her birth country, the first time she’d been there in 15 years, with family along for the ride. In the light of this, she reflects on the power of place to stir our memories and emotions:
“...memories are cued by the physical environment. When you visit a place you used to live, these cues can cause you to revert back to the person you were when you lived there…Does our birth place hold a piece of our heart, indefinitely?”
CurrencyFair Vs TransferWise | World’s Best Compared
Another random finance-admin post, this time looking at two international transfer services that skip the banks (and their fees). I’ve used TransferWise before but CurrencyFair is new to me. This article does a good job breaking down and comparing the different aspects of each service. Helpful and interesting – for me at least!