Thursday, 15 December 2011

Looking Forward, Looking Back - REFLECTIONS...

The holidays are coming up, and regardless of whether you are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or of any other religion or no religion at all, most Expat Teens are looking forward to the upcoming break from school. 

So, how does an Expat Teen typically spend the holidays? Where do they go? What do they do?? An amazing fact about Expat Teens is that there is very little that is ‘typical’ or predictable’ about them and/or their transient lifestyles, which includes how they spend school holidays. There will always be a group that goes to their ‘home’ or passport country to spend the holiday, to be with their extended family. There will probably be a group that have a new adventure, as they have the time to travel with their family and/or friends, to explore and discover a new region, city, or culture. Lastly, there will likely be a group that ‘stays around’ in their local host country, at “home” in the house that they currently live in. 

Wherever and however the holidays are spent, they are a good time for reflection. Taking the time to reflect on how you feel about the past few months, whether they were full of change as a result of having experienced a recent move, or whether they were spent really invested in with the rigors of school, friends, sports, and other interests. Looking back and thinking about what went well and what did not is helpful and is a proactive approach in terms of looking forward. The end-of-year holidays, regardless of what you do or do not celebrate, end with us entering a new year. What is in store for you for 2012? Take some time on your own to think about it and write down your objectives to make them meaningful and to increase the likelihood of you committing to them and, subsequently, being more likely to achieve them.

Regardless of where you go or how you spend the holidays, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful holiday period and we wish you all the best for 2012!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Who You Are and Where You "Belong"...

Current research identifies two dominant themes that Expat Teens have difficulty with as a direct result of the transient nature of their lives; 1) developing a sense of identity and 2) developing a sense of belonging. Walker (2005), quotes Gleason (1970), who examined where Expat Teens felt most at home. Thirty to fifty percent of this group said ‘more than one country’. Pollock and Van Reken (2009) say TCK’s (Third Culture Kids) are at home everywhere and nowhere.

Consider this example (please note: names have been changed to ensure confidentiality and anonymity of individual):

Siblings, John, Sara and Max, are holders of two passports but never lived in either of the two countries. They have lived in a total of 6 different countries and have been exposed to diverse cultures, foods, languages and religions. The eldest has attended a total of 12 different schools, whereas the youngest has attended 6. Although the children have visited the two countries of which they hold passports on numerous occasions, they do not identify with the histories, cultures, social norms, foods, school systems, public transportation, politics or the day-to-day ways of life in either country. They do, however, identify with Muslim traditions, enjoy Middle Eastern food, appreciate Chinese culture and traditions, and speak fluent French, ‘survival’ Russian, and a few words in Arabic. All three teens express that being asked, ‘Where do you come from?’ is a very challenging question. When John was 5 years old and was relocated to Jakarta, Indonesia from Cairo, Egypt, a volunteer mother visiting the school engaged in a discussion with John and asked him if he was Egyptian. John responded, “No, not anymore - I am Indonesian now.”

This real-life example provides evidence of one child’s response to defining his identity in a very different way to that of a monocultural child of the same age. Adapting to new countries, environments, languages and cultures are only a few examples of the change that Expat Teens are confronted by as a result of their transient lives.

Expat Teens Talk’ will be available SOON and will provide solutions, advice and support on how to deal with these ‘common themes’, reminding every Expat Teen who reads our book that he/she is not alone in terms of how they feel.

In the meantime, TALK to us via our “Comments” section and let us know what’s on your mind…

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Positive Aspects of Being an Expat Teen

As a result of Expat Teens’ diverse exposure to change, cultures, languages, people, and having to constantly adapt to new environments and situations of growing up globally, there are inevitably positive outcomes. Robin Pascoe, author of numerous books related to various sub-topics of Expat Life, including Raising Global Nomads (2006), A Moveable Marriage (2003), and Homeward Bound (2000), attempts to profile the positive outcomes of growing up as an Expat Teen, describing these individuals as;
  1. Alert, intelligent, and geographically aware
  2. Mature, sensitive and skilled at listening
  3. Likely to exhibit tolerance and cross-cultural understanding
  4. Flexible and open to change
  5. High achieving
  6. Drawn to careers associated with service to the community or the world” (Pascoe, 2006, p. 17)
Pascoe goes on to identify the challenges of growing up as an Expat Teen as;
  • The overseas experience makes them feel different
  • They gravitate to others like themselves
  • Children are silent partners in relocation
  • Issues of adolescence and rebellion are delayed
  • A migratory instinct can take hold
  • Global nomads (Expat Teens) feel rootless and restless, as if they don’t belong anywhere
  • Global Nomads have issues of unresolved grief (Pascoe, 2006, p. 21)
As identified by Konig (2009) in the works of Pollack and Van Reken (1999), they say that “Global nomads are the culture brokers of our generation and that they are becoming increasingly more visible due to the globalisation of world economies. They have a three-dimensional world-view, and experience sights, sounds and smells when they see places in which they have lived on television. Other characteristics include high linguistic ability, good observation skills, patience, and not as judgemental. On the downside, there are issues of unresolved grief, rootlessness and insecurity in relationships. One of the defining themes of an internationally mobile childhood is frequent change. For every experience of change-by their own mobility or another’s- global nomads experience a parallel process of psychological transition.” (page 105).

Robin’s positive outcomes outweigh the challenges of growing up as an Expat Teen, and Konig’s quote is motivationally inspirational in wanting to maximize opportunities as an Expat Teen. Hold your heads up high and focus from time to time on the positive strengths and characteristics you are likely to develop as a result of your lifestyle.

Expat Teens Talk’ will soon be available to help when the challenges make seeing the positive outcomes difficult and unreachable. 

In the meantime, TALK to us via our “Comments” section and let us know what’s on your mind…

Monday, 5 December 2011

All The Time In The World...

Do you ever feel like you have no free time?? Do you ever stop and think about how you spend your time? Do you come home from school and switch on your computer and ‘surf the ‘net’, checking FACEBOOK, YouTube, email, and the top 10 most popular internet sites (whatever yours are)? The next time you ‘surf’, try something new - record the time you switch on the computer and the time you switch it off, counting only the time you spend surfing…you might be surprised. Without quoting research and statistics, many of us spend more time surfing the web than we realise. This is certainly an area where many Expat Teens can gain some extra time. While we encourage you to invest the time online keeping connected with old friends and your old school community when you move from one country to the next, try not to do it at the expense of something else, like investing in making new friends and really integrating into your new environment. Time management is a life skill. Start being conscious and aware of how you spend your time now. Developing mindful habits now will save you a ‘lot of time’ doing so later when ingrained habits are harder to break.

To find out more about the struggles that your fellow peers have with time management, stay tuned to this blogspot for information on our new book, Expat Teens Talk, which will be available in a few short weeks. In the meantime, TALK to us via our “Comments” section and let us know what’s on your mind…

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Who Is Today's Expat Teen?

We fully recognize that non-Expat Teens may be interested in this blog and our soon-to-be-released book ‘Expat Teens Talk’. Therefore, for their benefit, we have provided a profile of a real Expat Teen’s Expat Life, to date.

Please note: Names have been changed to ensure confidentiality and anonymity of the individual profiled;

Anne, a 16 year old female Expat Teen, is the eldest of three children. She was born in Canada - her mother is Canadian and her father is Dutch. At ten days old, Anne took her first plane journey to where her parents lived as Expats and to what would be her first ‘home’ - Moscow, Russia - where the family lived as a result of her father’s career. At age 2 years and 4 months, the family relocated to Cairo, Egypt, where they lived for the next three years. They went on to live in Jakarta, Indonesia; Singapore; Verbier, Switzerland; Geneva, Switzerland (where Anne went from an English speaking International School to a local French speaking Swiss National school); and finally back to Singapore. Anne has, to date, never lived in either country of the two passports she holds from Holland and Canada. Her next home is likely to be in the UK where she has recently applied for University.

Our book ‘Expat Teens Talk’, which will be available in early/mid December, is full of stories written by Expat Teens like Anne - teens who live transient lives full of change. Read the advice, support and solutions to these stories as voiced by Expat Peers, Expat Parents and Expat Professionals. 

In the meantime, TALK to us via our “Comments” section and let us know what’s on your mind…