Expat childhood memories

Sharon
2 November, 2015

Moving around as a child can be stressful and daunting. The flipside is the raft of life-changing experiences that helps to build a dynamic memory bank that is personal to you, shaping your character and the way you see the world. It’s hard to always see it this way in the eyes of a child, and only something that one truly appreciates as an adult with the benefit of maturity and hindsight.

I definitely took my experiences for granted as a child – it was my ‘normal’ and I didn’t know anything different. Moving frequently between each country, and then to our base in the UK and holidays meant that, as a child, I was on a plane every couple of months. We would travel to Singapore to visit my Mum’s family, said family would visit us for onward travels, we’d make long road trips up and down Italy when we lived in Malta, and often my mother would be travelling on her own with my brother and I, whilst my Dad was working. I’d also fly solo as a child, which didn’t daunt me in the slightest. To have horse riding lessons by the Pyramids in Cairo, witness riots in the streets of Cairo during a curfew, to ice-fishing in Canada, having Ipanema and Copacabana beaches minutes’ walk from our apartment, and visiting Jesus’ birthplace in Israel. As a child, I never thought for a moment that these were once in a lifetime experiences, it was all part of the routine and my life at the time.

This was by no means normal, but I am a firm believer that travel and exposure to different cultures results in a more resilient child. In fact, this also applies to adults. There are a number of factors to consider, such as age of the child and their personality. But a sense of home wherever it may be, and an open line of communication, are essential to prevent feelings of displacement and insecurity, which can often unsettle the most staunch of children if not handled thoughtfully.

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