Younger Daughter’s Expat Story

Younger Daughter's expat story

Elder and Younger Daughters at Sentosa.

Today’s guest post was provided by Younger Daughter. I’m cheating with this one, because she wrote it for a school assignment shortly after we moved back to Canada. I like seeing our family’s expat story from an 11-year-old’s perspective, even though it’s slightly out of whack in places. (I loved the stores in Singapore? Um, really?  And unless you count knowing how to order restaurant meals and buy soccer tickets, we most definitely did not all become fluent in French. I’m looking at you, Chef Boyardee.)

We Became Expats

When I was 6 years old, my family was eating dinner and my dad announced something to us: he had been offered a promotion. Instead of smiling and laughing like he should have, my dad had a serious face. I still remember it clearly. My sister and I were confused. My dad continued, telling my sister and me that he would get this promotion on one condition. One BIG condition. That we would pack up everything in Canada and fly 15,000 km across the world to Singapore.

My sister and I didn’t understand what Singapore was since we were so young, and my dad explained that Singapore was very far away from Canada. We all agreed to move there on a 1-year contract. So we boarded the plane, ready for the 26 hour ride.

We all loved it in Singapore, my dad loved his job, my mom loved the scenery and the stores, and my sister and I loved our school. The year ended in no time, and my dad came home very happy, he was offered a longer term contract to stay in Singapore for 2 more years! We all agreed very quickly, but we missed our family back home.

When it was time to go back to Canada, my dad got offered ANOTHER promotion, but this time we had to move to Bordeaux, France. It looked like it was going to be a while until we went back to Canada. France was much harder to adapt to because of the language. Having to go to school in French and meeting French speaking people was a huge challenge for us. Even though our time in France was short, we all became fluent in French. We finally moved back to Canada in 2007, happy to be home after 5 years.

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About Maria

I'm a Canadian repatriate, former expat spouse, mother to two TCKs (and one yellow Lab), mentor to new immigrants, writer, reader, world traveller (grounded for now). I write about expat/repat issues and am still trying to figure out my place in the world.
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11 Responses to Younger Daughter’s Expat Story

  1. Out of the mouths of babes!

  2. I love this! She wrote so well for an 11-year-old. I enjoyed how she had such a positive outlook. Of course these years abroad will shape her thinking and influence her life choices for ever.

  3. Sine says:

    Love this! What a treasure to have. Makes me want to sit my kids down right this minute and make them write an essay of their own. I might have to withhold dessert until they do it…

  4. naomihattaway says:

    I would be afraid of what they would write, if they sat down to write about their experiences 🙂 Maybe when they’re older! Loved her essay and of COURSE you loved the stores in Singapore!

  5. bookjunkie says:

    O my gosh. I was just posting about my memories from age 6. Absolutely love this essay from when your daughter was six. Just brilliant. Makes me think that children are so much more culturally adaptive and open to change.

    Children’s essays are just the best. I wish I had kept some of mine, just to recapture how I thought then.

    I have been missing your posts Maria. So happy that WordPress.com now allows WordPress.org users the same easy viewing on the dashboard when we log in. Previously couldn’t do this.

    • Maria says:

      I just read your school memories post! I loved it because it’s all so different from my childhood experience — very Singaporean. I’m glad my daughter has such sweet memories of that time in her life.

  6. Victoria says:

    This is a wonderful post. I love the perspective! Thank you for sharing. What an amazing opportunity your family has had! I’m sure it didn’t come without its challenges, but well worth it, I’ll bet.

  7. I like this post 🙂 I think it is so important that expat kids learn to tell their stories or to write them down. I’m sure it will even help them in the future. Have you heard of the book “Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child” by Julia Simens? It’s all about storytelling techniques that strengthen the global family.

    • Maria says:

      I’ve heard so much about that book — it’s in the queue on my iPad and I’m hoping to get to it soon. I agree with you about the importance of having kids write down their experiences. I wish I’d thought of it, but thankfully both my girls were able to document their TCK lives for school projects.

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