“Where are you from?” – I asked Adam once, quite curious about what will he say. He was 3 at the time.
“Germany!” – he answered, without any hesitation.
Wait, what!? I was expecting “Poland”, maybe “Tunisia”, but why on earth would he associate himself with a country he has no links to? Then it hit me – he did attend a kindergarten where most of the children were German-speaking and they spoke both English and German to him. That was when I first started to research the subject of raising an expat child, and came across a very interesting term that seemed to fit my offspring like a glove: “third-culture kids”.
Also called “the citizens of everywhere and nowhere”, those children are influenced by both by their parents’ culture/s, as well as the culture in which they are raised. You can read more about this phenomenon HERE!
Since my children definitely belong in this category, I’ve put together a list of my observations related to raising them. You can read it for fun. It can also help you make up your mind whether or not to move abroad with your kids (or have kids while living abroad).
1. They have a pretty unusual concept of “home”.
For our Polish-Tunisian kids living between Qatar and Poland, “home” is a number of places. It is usually the place which they like the most at the time of asking. 🙂 Adam liked his time spent with babcia (granny) in Poland? He will call Poland “home” now. He went for a couple of playdates in Doha? Looks like Qatar is his “home” for the time being! He seems to connect “home” more to people and things that surround him, than to a certain place in the world. And, funnily enough, I often catch myself doing the very same thing!
2. They effortlessly fit in wherever they go!
One of the biggest perks of raising an expat child, in my opinion. Adam is 5 years old, and so far he’s been in a British nursery in Qatar, a German kindergarten in Qatar, and a Britsh school in Poland. Wherever he went, he blended right in. The experience of growing up around so many people from so many backgrounds and cultures helped him learn how to communicate and adapt to integrate seamlessly. He simply accepts any new place, no questions asked, and makes friends so easily that I am jealous of it, at times!
3. They end up speaking a whole lot of languages.
When I was 5 years old, I spoke Polish and had just begun discovering that the English language exists. Adam at 5 is fluent in English, pretty good in Polish and speaks some German, too (which is funny, because none of his parents do!). And I personally know kids his age who are already fluent in three languages, which they simply picked up at home, without any pressure from their parents or school. I don’t need to explain how beneficial can that be in the future. 🙂
4. Their English accent is… something else.
This is a really interesting thing about expat kids with parents who are not native English speakers (like us). Children develop a completely unrecognizable accent, like: everyone knows they’re not from any English speaking country, but nobody can pinpoint where exactly are they from! I still remember how Adam started to develop a Filipino accent in English because, at the time, his nanny and most of the nursery staff were Filipinas. 😀 Not to worry though, they drop one accent pretty quickly and switch to a different one, or mix a couple of them together! 😉
5. They live with a sense of life being a constant adventure.
That is perhaps my favorite thing about raising expat kids. For them, sky is the limit! Adam at the age of 5 is up for anything and everything. He’s already a seasoned traveler and knows more about planes and airports than a lot of adults do. 🙂 Going places with such children is pure joy – they welcome all the experiences with those tiny arms wide open, consciously immersing themselves in whatever their crazy parents planned for them. 🙂 They’re not scared of going somewhere new – they are LOOKING FORWARD TO IT. And it’s beautiful.
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