12 things a kid learns from moving abroad:

Beach Fun

1) your siblings become your best allies

When you’re the new kid on the block, it helps to have someone who has your back. And that is inevitably – your sibling. You may fight over who ate the chocolate chip cookies, you may whine about who has to set the table, you may even rat them out for watching tv all night, but when it comes down to it, you’re there for each other. And that yields a certain closeness that perhaps woudln’t have been as strong had we always lived in the same place. My brother and I were each other’s only friends in every new school, new scenario, new continent. And when you spend that much time together, under the vast Australian sky or when you first realize that school isn’t cancelled just because it’s -20 C ( that this is simply the way it is in Canada), when you experience those little defining moments, it makes them irreplacable.

2) you know no matter where you move to, you have a chance at making something great happen in your life.

3) you realize that things get better with time.

The first year is generally the toughest. Depending on where you move to people may be more open to newcomers, and may be more or less likely to invite you along. Some societies I’ve found keep their friend groups separate, so it becomes hard to meet new people beyond the few you meet from the get-go. Eventually though, you have your core group of friends and you hardly notice that it gets bigger with time.

4) Some people are better at connecting in real time, others are better at keeping in touch. Most of all you can be surprised at how with some friends, even after years of not seeing them, you haven’t missed a beat.

People will surprise you.

5) There are different ways of doing things.

6) Don’t listen to rumours, make your own mistakes.

When you arrive to a new school, workplace or community, you will hear rumours about people. They will be introduced as ‘someone not to trust’ or ‘someone who is only out for themselves’, or in school; someone who ‘isn’t cool’. If you listen to those comments, you will seriously limit your experience in a new town. You will be prejudiced against someone who may be worth knowing. Also, it is a good thing to let your new ‘friends’ know that you make your own decisions and mistakes, rather than just follow theirs.

7) Try new foods, new traditions

It’s a given, whether or not it’s culinary expansion we’re talking about or celebrating christmas on a beach in Australia, these moments will be the ones that will stick out, and they make for great stories.

8) Age matters

Your experience of a country and culture is dependent on your age, and where you are at in your life. I have lived in Canada for half of my life, and no matter how canadian I may feel, there are always those moments when you realise that you haven’t quite been exposed to the same tv shows as a kid, the same sayings, the same lullabys. Believe me, those things connect.

9) You may feel a nationality most strongly when you are outside of it. When I am in Switzerland, I am referred to as the canadian, and vice-versa. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just strange that wherever you are, you are always reminded that you are a part of someplace else as well.

10) You experience culture on a deeper level when you live someplace, rather than travel there. You experience their year-round traditions, get aquainted with the flaws of their political system, and you start to tell which city they are from based on their accent, when before you were just worried about your own.

11) living in different countries is like having lived more than one life.

You get immersed in a new world, with a new circle of friends, new habits and routines, and even new languages. Perhaps you will even feel like a different person from one setting to another.

12) The grass is green on both sides. Here or there, there are things you will miss, certain foods that you crave, and people that cannot be replaced, no matter how many new friends you make. But all in all, knowing a new culture will only enrich your life, and open your mind to new possibilities.

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