Day 260: How The Third Culture Kids Settled

Isn’t that a weird title? Third Culture Kids and Trailing Spouses. Those are some terms they use to describe children who move away from their home land, and for the partners that pick up and move and follow their partner’s job overseas. Yesterday, I shared my perspective on what helped to make me feel settled in our new country. Tonight my kids want a turn to share.

Here is Christian’s perspective.

Hi this is Christian or I am better known as CJ here. I have really been wanting to talk about my experience so far in holland/ Europe/ the world. Literately this has been the best experience in my life. I would have never guessed moving to Holland, like I would maybe think the east coast or Canada but Europe! Wow! Moving here has really been quite the culture shock. Probably the best things that I have done/adapted to here include: having friends from all over the world and accepting other cultures, and adapting to new sports, such as soccer. Some other things I have learned about living here is traveling. The weird part is that I have been every place that I have covered in history last year, such as Istanbul, Turkey, London UK, and Germany. The thing that I have liked/enjoyed most has been friends and school. Here I hang out with a large group. What I think is cool is that we are all from different countries such as France, New Zealand, India and UK. I think that it is so cool to hear about what people’s lives where like in their home countries and how we can all connect. School, most of all, has brought me friends, education and an international understanding of the international community that I am surrounded by. Joining the school basketball team has been a really cool experience. I have traveled to 4 different cities and have played 6 different teams from 3 different countries. Even though getting in 4th, I was still able to have fun and improve dramatically on my basketball skills! From America to Amsterdam and around the world, I will always remember this journey forever.

Thanks- Christian 🙂

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And here is A Q&A with Juliana’s perspective:

Mom: Juliana, why did you want to move overseas?

Juliana: For the adventure.

Mom: How did you feel about moving to Holland?

Juliana: Originally excited, but sad to leave my friends, family, neighborhood, and school.

Mom: How long did it take for you to make new friends?

Juliana: I met friends when I started school a month after I arrived and also a few neighbors in the first few weeks.

Mom: What were your first impressions of your new school?

J: I thought, “Wow, this is big. This is different. This will take some getting used to, I’m gunna get lost.

M: What do you like best about being an expat?

J: I think it makes me really appreciate what I have back home, like good weather, my friends, the food, etc. I’m grateful I get to travel while I’m young and while I still don’t have to pay for an adventure- they are expensive!

M: How did you find fun things to do?

J: I volunteered for student council, and I joined a lunch time sewing club I just finished sewing a bag that I’m really proud of; I have also made wine bags and an apron. I made the volleyball and basketball traveling teams and experienced things I wouldn’t have the chance to, like spending the night with host families in a different country than my parents, an unknown family, and even in cities my parents haven’t been too!

M: Do you enjoy school?

J: No, because I don’t feel like I’m learning anything new. The school is nice, but I feel like my school in California was way ahead of what we are learning here, and I like the learning style better there.

M: Do you want to travel when you are older?

J: It depends. I prefer beach vacations over historical tours. Traveling is fun but it is tiring and kinda stressful sometimes- i definitely make the most out of my bed after a long day of site seeing. I’ve become a better traveler, I know what to pack and can pack in 30 minutes!! But the adventure you get out of it is priceless, especially while I’m young and can absorb it.

M: Do you have many friends?

J: Yes, I like to hang out with a group of friends. They come from USA, Hong Kong, Turkey, UK. Germany,France, Nepal, Belgium, Holland, Cambodia, Egypt, Czech Republic, and Japan.

M: Where is home?

J: America!! California.

M: What has the been the best part of your experience?

I really like seeing the world. It’s cool. But maybe one of the reasons why I don’t appreciate it as much as I should,not saying that I don’t appreciate it, but we traveled and did so much back home that it feels normal to me. It doesn’t feel that different. I know I am very lucky and am thankful, but I’m ready to go home.

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And last but not least, here’s Charlie’s view:

I did not want to move here. I did not want to leave my friends or my basketball hoop or my house and baseball team and soccer team. I liked my school and my teachers in America. I didn’t understand why we had to move and I want to go back. I like my friends that I’ve made at my new school, and will miss them too when we do move back someday. I don’t like living upstairs and like a one story house better. Sometimes I like traveling, but would rather travel in America. What I like best about Holland is my friends, but that’s about it.

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I’ve learned so much by asking these questions of my kids. I have to say I’m somewhat surprised and hoped for a more positive response, but I accept their opinions and value what they had to say. I wonder what other kids think of their expat parents’ choices. Hmmm….

Day 195: Time Together

My house is a mess! It looks like a whirling dervish came spinning through in just one day, as yesterday it wasn’t this bad. I was gone all day and when I came home with the kids after school, and actually noticed the clutter and chaos, I started to get short and snippy with the kids, hoping they would magically make it all disappear. Of course my agitation, created their agitation which was counterproductive. So instead, I changed my approach and apologized and offered hugs instead of demands. Then we worked together to make our “castle” a bit more organized again so we could enjoy it. And then we did.

We made dinner together, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher and then had time to play again. We all felt better, although I can’t say the house is spotless, but we’re better than before.

Juliana and I made a small batch of rice Krispy treats in her new heart pan. She loves to bake and I am planning to spend more time with her baking, like we did when she was little.

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After dinner, Char and I made time to read together on the couch. We’re reading a traditional Dutch chapter book about the characters Jip and Jannike. I just love their names and their black and white images. After we sat together reading, he wanted to see pictures from home. We looked at old pics from my Facebook account, and re-liked one that made it new again in my photo stream. We then looked at my online photo library. Luckily I’ve categorized a few chapters, but most are just sitting in folders. How do you organize your digital prints? I am so not good at this! We took some selfies to add to my uncategorized collection!

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And Christian is now at an age that he’s happy on his own. He finished his homework and then was building his dream stadium using the Sketch Up application on his computer. He wants to be an architect someday, and so hopefully through his play he also learns a few skills. It’ll be cool to watch and see if his path takes him in this direction.

It’s so hard for me to play together at the end of the day, when all I want to do is be done and clean up and relax and write. But today I’m happy that I chose to play. How have you played today??

Namaste.

Day 193: Rainy Day and Homesick

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It was sunny this morning and then the rain came. A typical Holland day. The weather forecast predicts daily rain and cold weather. Thank goodness April and Steve and the girls are coming this week to bring some sunshine to this house, because there is a case of home sickness here today.

Even trying to make rotisserie chickens in our oven for the first time didn’t chase away the blues.

20130203-223710.jpgThey sure were tasty, although we kept missing our Costco rotisserie chickens! Aren’t they good??

For me, my symptoms we’re caused by missing all the Superbowl buzz!

It’s not that I’m even a huge fan of the Superbowl, it’s just that I love the camaraderie that it brings. I like hearing about the pools, the appetizers people are making, where they are going to watch the game and more importantly, the commercials and half time show! The entire process and experience is so American, and people dress up in their team colors and fly their team flags. People gather for the fun of it and I love it! And being here,we’re missing all of it, and it makes me home sick. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still happy being here, I’m just more aware I’m not there. The same thing happened at Halloween time. Luckily the feeling doesn’t last too long, but it was and is definitely there. There usually is some “medicine” to fix the blues. Tonight my family is already asleep, so that they can wake up at midnight to enjoy the game here. We bought just a little bit of party food to celebrate, even though it won’t be the same as being in the States! Hopefully I’ll get to follow along with people’s Facebook status updates, play by play!

Juliana also has homesickness. She is ready to move back home and is struggling the most with our decision to stay longer than one year here. This surprised me as she was one of the most eager to take on this experience. Right now we are considering staying until the end of 2013 and possibly until next summer. This is hard for her to imagine, as she longs to be back in California. (If anyone has expat kids and has experienced this, I’d love to hear from you.) As she tells me her thoughts, I truly listen and try not to shine over her feelings. She is a very bright girl and her feelings are valid and real. I do not argue with her, yet I listen to and support her and hope that she’ll continue to see the good and not wish this time and experience away too quickly, even though she really misses her friends and the California way of life. It’s hard to look into the future to try and decide what is best for everyone, yet we are doing our best.

Speaking of best, Go Niners!! I’m feeling better now!

Day 63: A Message from Charlie

Good afternoon. This is Charlie speaking. I hope you are having fun wherever you are, but I think I’m having more fun because I’m on a big, gigantic vacation.

And my house, I think is more fun to play in. I feel really good in Holland. But, the school day is longer here but we have a 45 minute recess. The soccer field is like a real one and it’s made of fake grass and has two goals built in.  I met a new friend that is from Los Altos! I hope you’re having a fun time and I think you’ll like it here. You should come and see me or do what I’m doing right now! You should come to Holland. It’s a nice place. The weather is nice and cold. But it’s fun and warm for me. I only feel the breeze when it’s sunny and sometimes cold. But I’m still wearing my shorts and my soccer suits and shoes.

I like that there are lots of parks with very big playgrounds. Right near my house, there is a place called Adventure Island. Right near Adventure Island, there is a place that kids can drive boats. And there is a ropes course that’s called Fun Forest.

At my school, they have a forest, way in the back. It has a zipline. Our lunch room is brand new. My teacher is super nice! I wish all of my friends in America were here too! That’s what I miss the most!! My friends!

I hope the day was good for you. That is the end of your day when you read this good afternoon message. Good afternoon!! This is Charlie speaking. Oh, sorry. I was thinking something else. Well, back to what I was saying…I hope you enjoyed the good afternoon message. Done.

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