Friday 18 October 2013

Guest Post: Dealing with Unresolved Grief

Greetings! We hope that all of you are doing well! Once again, we welcome a guest blogger, who has shared a personal story that I'm sure many Expat Teens/TCK's can relate to. As usual, the experiences shared are those of the guest blogger, and do not necessarily represent the views of the authors of Expat Teens Talk.
Dealing with Unresolved Grief
At the age of seven I moved to Nigeria with my parents. Looking back, this move, and the many moves that followed, have had a huge impact on me as a person. I was uprooted and had to leave everything behind. On Friday, I was still in The Netherlands, on Monday I was at school in Nigeria. At the age of 15 we moved to Singapore. From the first moment I arrived in Singapore, it did not feel right for me to be there.

While living in Singapore, I was extremely unhappy. It was difficult for me to settle down and make friends, and I secluded myself from everything and everyone. It was a very lonely period. A period in which I felt that no one understood me. I blamed myself for feeling the way I did. I felt stuck in Singapore and wanted to go back to The Netherlands. In my mind, everything would be okay if only I could return to The Netherlands. After two years, I left Singapore, alone, and I went to boarding school. Back in The Netherlands, my feelings did not change, and I still asked myself the same questions: “Who am I?” and “Where do I belong?”

After years of struggling, I was already in my twenties, and I decided to get help. It took me several years to finally find a therapist that understood what I had gone through. She explained to me that most of my suffering was caused by the losses I had experienced in childhood. Realising this marked the beginning of my healing process.

What is grief?

Leaving a familiar place and people you love is a loss and needs to be dealt with properly. Grief does not go away, and unsolved grief can lead to, for instance, depression. Usually, grief is associated with the death of a loved one (child, partner, friend). However, unsolved grief can also be caused when there is not enough time to process a loss. Everyone that suffers a loss needs time to deal with the pain, mourn their loss, and, eventually, accept their loss in order to move on. How can you, as a Third Culture Kid (TCK), mourn for your loss if there is no ceremony, like a funeral, and the people around you have no idea what you are going through? They might even get impatient with you when you are not enthusiastic about the (new) move. Because the loss of a TCK is less visible, a TCK will be comforted less frequently than a widow.

Being a TCK means you will be exposed to losses, some being more critical than others, and some experienced differently by each family member.

Below you can find some examples of loss:

- the loss of your home
- the loss of your friends and family
- the loss of your favourite places, like the park, a sportsclub, or your favorite restaurant

You are struggling. You feel that there is something wrong but you cannot nail it down. Well, this is grief or, even, expatriate grief! It might surprise you. You had no idea that it would be so hard to leave, for instance, your friends or sportsclub behind.

To mourn a loss is a difficult but healthy process, and it is never too late to deal with unsolved grief! You cannot go back in time, but you can talk to your parents about your experience as a TCK, both good and bad. Discovering that your feelings are “normal” can help you to understand your feelings more cleary. This will not solve all of your problems but it can be the beginning of your healing process.

Anne-Marie Faassen

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Guest Post: Your First Car: Can it go with you when it's time to relocate?

Greetings! We have another wonderful opportunity of presenting a guest blogger. Ms. Liz Nelson writes about the considerations that need to be made when determining if it is possible to relocate a vehicle when it's time for that next move. Please note that the views of the guest bloggers do not necessarily represent those of the authors of Expat Teens Talk.

Your First Car: Can it Go with You When it's Time to Relocate?

Everyone remembers his or her first automobile. It can be quite easy to get attached to your first car and it could be heart breaking to let it go. However, it may be quite expensive to ship the automobile when it comes time to relocate. This is especially true if you're relocating to the other side of the globe. Unless the automobile is exceptionally expensive to replace, it may not be worth the expense to have it shipped.

Nearby Relocation
If you're lucky, you can drive your car to the new location. If you're studying throughout Europe, it could be nothing more than just a drive across a country or two. You may even be able to ferry the automobile from the UK to the European mainland for a small fee. However, would you be able to afford the fees that it would cost you to ship the car from Europe to South America?

For many cultures, the first car is a rite of passage for teenagers. This is especially true in the United States. It is the first taste of independent freedom that teens experience as they prepare for the rest of their lives. Many teens will hold on to their original vehicles for a great deal of time. Some may even weep when it comes time to scrap or sell this metallic friend of theirs.

As long as you go into your first automobile with the idea that it will be the first of many, you can probably quell some of the attachment that others may feel. You may still become engaged within your vehicle, but it won't cause as much of an emotional upheaval if you are already waiting for the moment when you have to let the auto go. If you are lucky, you may be able to relocate your automobile to your new location.

Troubles with Shipping
There are many aspects to relocating a car that you need to consider. Although the cost will be the most primary reason for justifying taking the vehicle with you, there are legalities that will need to be addressed as well. Some countries prohibit importing your own vehicle. Others will prohibit the sale of a foreign vehicle privately within the borders. Road regulations will need to be adhered to as your car may not be legal to operate in your new location. Therefore, before you worry about the cost, your location may prevent you from importing your vehicle anyway.

Money to Spend
Selling your car before you move can put extra money in your pocket, while saving an extra expense of transporting the machine. This money can be put towards buying your second vehicle in the new location, easing your mind, as you don't have to concern yourself with customs and fees. It may be sad to let your first automobile go, but you're young and there are plenty of adventures that are still left to be had.

Your first car will remain with you throughout the rest of your life. It could represent your first taste of independence ,while developing many memories. It's common for many to feel bad about getting rid of his or her first car, but there will come a time when you find that perfect automobile for you. It's just another step along the path of life, and there are many more laid out in front of you.

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Expat Teens Talk is now available for Kindle!

Greetings! We wanted to take a minute to let you all know that our book, Expat Teens Talk, recently became available for Kindle! So, those of you who prefer to read electronic versions of books are invited to go to or and download your Kindle version today!

Thank you, as always, for your support and consideration!
Warmest Regards,
Lisa and Diana

Tuesday 9 July 2013

The Nature of Relationships in the Expat World

"When you are an Expat, you either become very outgoing or build up walls to keep yourself safe from the hurt of leaving people."

This excerpt from our book was submitted to us by an Expat Teen Alumnus (aka Adult TCK) about his/her experiences as an Expat Teen. In the Expat World, where change is one of the only things that is constant, saying "goodbye" becomes the other constant. This happens either because you are moving, or because those around you are moving. There are many teens who live for most, if not all, of their life in one country, though it is not the country of birth or where they hold a passport. But because of the permanent nature of their residence, they find themselves saying "good bye" to their Expat Teen peers who do move on to new locations. As a result, it can become difficult to make friendships or to share too much of yourself with a person for fear of losing a piece of yourself when that person leaves. Alternatively, some like being able to share information about themselves with others to maximize the time that they do have together. So, what has your experience been like? How do you feel about establishing bonds with others? How do you manage the feelings that come with saying "good bye"? Here are a few tips that may help with the process of saying hello and preparing to say goodbye:

  • Share as you feel comfortable. You may not want to share your entire life story from the first "hello," but there may be some information that you are fine with sharing as you build rapport with someone. Identify what that is (it may be different for different people, and may be dependent on who you meet), and only share the amount that you feel comfortable sharing at the rate that you feel comfortable sharing.
  • Don't just maintain a presence on social media. The foundation of maintaining personal relationships is communication. This can come in various forms, including calling, sms'ing/texting, Facebook messages, IM'ing, and more. But some of these methods can feel rather impersonal, especially if you are posting pictures and messages for dozens (or hundreds) of people to see. Consider taking the time to send a personal email, make an actual call on Skype, or use Face Time to let that person know how much you care.
  • Find support in the constants. Most of you move around the world with your nuclear family. Therefore, they are going through many of the same changes that you are, and they are saying "good bye" about as often as you are. In essence, they are the constants in your life. So, remember that you have people in your life who are constantly there (for the most part), and consider reaching out to them to see how they are handling saying goodbye, and to learn other ways to manage your feelings. If you don't feel like you can talk to your family members who are living with you, consider reaching out to other constants, such as extended family members in other countries, or an older sibling at university. It can make a difference to know that there are people who are close to you who can help you feel better about always having to say goodbye.
  • Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Even when you are able to get comfort from your family, it's still nice to know that there are others your age who are experiencing similar feelings and frustrations. So, reach out to them on blogs, chatrooms, or other websites. Even though your experience may still hurt, sometimes being reminded that others are going through it to makes it a bit more manageable.

For more information about this and other topics geared towards Expat Teenagers/Third Culture Kids, we invite you to check out our book, Expat Teens Talk, available on Amazon and at

Thursday 27 June 2013

Guest Post: Ways and Expat Teen can cope with stress, regardless of location

We are happy to introduce Ms. Madoline Hatter, who is providing a guest post for us today. As with previous guest posts, the information provided is a reflection of the individual submitting it, and not necessarily reflective of the authors of Expat Teens Talk. We invite you to read the article below, and then TALK to us and let us know what you think...

Ways an Expat Teen Can Cope With Stress, Regardless of Location
The effects stress can have on a body can be quite detrimental to anyone's health. Although the young can endure more than some, this is still no reason why anyone should have to live with carrying around heavy burdens. Being able to cope with the stresses of everyday life is an important aspect of adjustment, and there are many ways that an expat teen can free themselves from being hindered by levels of stress. Here are some of them:

1. Your Experiences - Writing in a journal has helped millions of people throughout history adapt to the changes within life. It is a way to work out your problems while offering a medium for your mind to come up with solutions. Although keeping a journal or a diary of your problems doesn't work for everyone, it can give you a method to look back and see how you've overcome your obstacles in order to relieve the stresses of the moment. Many of us also learn better by writing things down. This includes life lessons and not just those taught by a teacher.

2. Meditation - Practicing forms of meditation can help an expat teen cope with the ravages of stress. As most forms of meditation are easy to accomplish, it doesn't have to be a difficult ability to learn. Depending on the area where you are currently residing, there could be a variety of meditation techniques from the culture around you that could greatly influence the reduction of your stress levels. Even something as simple as sitting in complete silence in a comfortable position can help you gain insight to what is troubling you and how to deal with the situation.

3. Constructive Relaxation - There are many people who will engage in relaxing hobbies that can take their minds off of daily life if even for an hour or two. Some teens will put together models, or indulge in an artistic expression in order to help work out some of the frustrations he or she is experiencing. The objective behind this type of exercise is the balance of control. We can feel better about any given situation as long as we are able to control the outcome. Working on a hobby or project can give that sense of control to a teen, and can help reduce the amount of stress he or she may be feeling.

4. Stories - Others indulge in writing stories that are related to the problems they are facing. When you compose a story, you're able to give it life based on situations that are happening around you. Using your own imagination, you can develop methods of how your main character deals with a similar situation. It may sound silly at first, but your fictional character can show you how to adapt to the situation based on your own imagination. Allowing the story to flow naturally can provide you with clarity about your own dilemma.

These are just a few methods that an expat teen can use to deal with stress. Methods such as these can be taken with you, regardless of where you go, and can help you center your life in some of the most dire circumstances. If you are an individual who simply can't find an ear to bend, whether by choice or by lack of options, don't allow your problems to fester until they become a deeper problem within. Consider the methods listed above to help manage your circumstances.

This article is contributed by Madoline Hatter. Madoline is a freelance writer and blog junkie from You can reach her at: m.hatter12 @ gmail. com.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Is it always bad to judge a book by its cover?

If you're a reader like me, you look at two things to determine if you want to read a book: the title and the cover. If the title catches my eye, then I'm more compelled to look at the cover. If both seem interesting, then I'll take a look at the description of the book. If those two things aren't in sync, then chances are I won't read the book. So, in this example, I absolutely judge a book by its cover...but is that always bad?

When it comes to book reading, everyone is different, and there are some who may say that you should not base your decision to read a book solely on the cover. And that is actually true, because there are times when a book is recommended and/or given to me and I read it even if the cover is not something that catches my eye. And most of the time, I'm pleasantly surprised at the outcome...most of the time...

So, how does this apply to interpersonal relationships? As an Expat Teen, you have moved at least once and, in some cases, multiple times. Therefore, you may have a routine that you use when you are transitioning to a new place, and within this may include how you meet new people. So, what happens if you judge a new person by their first interactions with you? Can you always be sure that your first perception about a person is based on accurate information?

In our book, we received a submission from an Expat Teen who addresses this very issue. She writes, in part,

"...they judge me based on the way I look, the way I behave, and the way I speak. From my point of view, they are judging me by what they see and hear without trying to get to know me."

How many times have you heard the phrase, "What you see is what you get"? or "Seeing is believing"? How do those phrases "co-exist" with the concept of "Don't judge a book by its cover"? In a world where appearance and first impressions are weighed very heavily, it can be difficult to make the extra effort to look a little deeper. So, our challenge to you is to take the time to dig a little deeper. Challenge yourself to get to know other people, cultures, and traditions in a way that you may not have been able to do on previous assignments. Who knows? Maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome...

For more information about this and other topics geared towards Expat Teenagers/Third Culture Kids, we invite you to check out our book, Expat Teens Talk, available on Amazon and at

Saturday 1 June 2013

Popping the stress bubble

Stress is a part of life. At times, it seems to be more manageable than others. But when you are faced with too many activities and responsibilities and not enough time, everything can become overwhelming. When we were gathering research for our book, we found out from Expat Teens, worldwide, that their top stressors (in descending order) were as follows:

  • Grades
  • School
  • Body Changes/Image
  • Peer Pressure
  • Boy/Girl relationships
  • Sports
So, what do you do about stress? There are natural stressors that come with moving from country to country, school to school, culture to culture, and you may feel like you can manage those. But what if you get to the point where it feels like it's one country/school/culture too many? Or what if the stress associated with those moves is higher because you are older, more advanced in school, and/or feel like you have fewer resources? Here are some tips to help you make that stress more manageable:
  • Identify what, exactly, is stressing you out - Is it the quantity of responsibilities? Is it the amount of time it will take? Are you worried that you don't have the resources that you need? Are you worried that you won't be able to get everything completed?
  • Take each of those concerns and identify a potential plan of action for each one. For example, if you feel like you have too much to do, prioritize the tasks and address them one at a time so that you can feel like you are making progress. Writing all of this down can make the tasks more manageable, and can be a visual way of tracking your progress.
  • Delegate or Ask for help - if someone else is able to do one or more of the tasks on your list, then ask them if they would mind doing it for you. Similarly, if you need assistance with any of the tasks, don't be afraid to reach out to a friend, parent, teacher, or sibling to ask for help.
  • Reward yourself - consider setting a deadline for task completion, and then identify something that you can reward yourself with (e.g., going out for ice cream; downloading a song from I-Tunes; reading a book that you've never been able to find the time to read). This will not only give you something to look forward to, but it may also provide just the motivation that you need to get started or to finish what you've already started.
We hope that you can use these suggestions to help pop that stress bubble and be able to manage all of your responsibilities more efficiently. For more information about this and other topics geared towards Expat Teenagers/Third Culture Kids, we invite you to check out our book, Expat Teens Talk, available on Amazon and at

Monday 13 May 2013

Where's Home?? A video

Please copy and paste the following link to watch a video every Expat Teen can identify with. Congratulations to all those involved in producing this, great initiative!!!!
Diana and Lisa

Monday 6 May 2013

Keeping in touch; University Expat Teens Series FIVE

Everyone knows how to use facebook, email, skype and all other forms of online communication to keep in touch with one another. Right?
It’s a tendency associated with youth; we all know how to use them, or quickly pick up the skills along the way, just to update statuses or show a friend the new tie you bought. International students have developed a technological ‘knack’ for these programs, perhaps more so than others, and use them frequently to catch up with family and friends around the world.
This is, however, not necessarily the case for our local friends- a hall mate recently announced she had to ‘download Skype and figure out how to use it’ so she could see the new couch her parents had bought.
Unfortunately, as any international student knows, time difference can be a real hindrance to these communications, especially when you want to see that new couch. Some of us may have a simple 12 hours difference, allowing for easy ‘skype dates’, whilst others have more complex schedules causing conflict on either end, making it that much harder to remain close whilst so far away
And yet International students use these means as the cheapest form of communication and homesickness remedies- something we all experience, especially over holiday times.
So in the recent times of Thanks for Thanksgiving, I’d like to thank technology for letting me be able to keep in touch with my family and friends all over the world. It isn’t always easy but these means are a good comfort, decreasing the feeling of constantly missing out and actually increasing my enjoyment of being here at university- I was pretty happy I missed out on monsoon rains for the first time in years when I saw the flooding over Skype!