The Basics

There are more differences out there than similarities. While parents everywhere love their kids and complain about toilet training and picky eaters, they do it in very different ways and in many different languages.

Your time abroad with your kids will be richer and less troublesome if you agree with us on some general principals:

  • Things are not the same as at home. This is neither good nor bad per se, just different (this can be a tough one to still believe in after some particularly bad days overseas).
  • It is better to be surprised at similarities than to expect them.
  • While you should make every effort to understand the new environment around you and to modify your own behaviors to not cause insult or disrespect, no matter how well you learn the language and study the nuances, no one will adopt you and rename you “Dances with Wolves”. For better or worse you will still be you.
  • Everyone will experience culture shock and homesickness, though some people will be affected to a greater or lesser degree. Pretending you alone are immune will just make it harder to find your peace with your new home.
  • And finally, you can do something about all this to make living abroad in a new culture easier for you and your children.

Culture Shock and Homesickness

These two things go hand in hand, in that the rapid and massive changes that will happen to your world when you settle in another part of the world can cause you in some part to want to go back to the way things used to be for your family (or at least the way you remember they used to be; more on this later). For kids these changes and their effects can be more subtle, and manifest themselves in less obvious ways.

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