After six years in the international education system, with one teenager about to finish his IB and another who chose a different path, I feel ready to dive into the depth of this special program and try to explain the way I perceive its charm.  Origins of the IB IB was initiated by a group of teachers from the International School in Geneva. The goal was to create a curriculum that encourages international awareness along with the skills, attitudes and knowledge required for participation in a global society. The program strives to produce curious, knowledgeable and motivated students. Those who […]

The IB program – A parent’s view

First, there were the Expats. Employees who were sent by their company on a mission outside of home. But as time passed, globalization crawled in, and as borders became easier to cross and international experience became invaluable for global companies, a variety of ‘post expatriate’ (’Postpat’) groups started to emerge. The following chapters will try to describe the main characteristics of the different Postpat groups and the challenges and opportunities they are facing. However, a word of caution must be noted – no two persons are the same and no two Postpats have the same relocation experience. Still, when trying […]

Global Mobility Trends of the Post Expatriates Era

It's gonna be alright
Re-relocation is a new term I came up with to describe the recurring relocation experience. As a chronic re-relocator I feel that in my last few relocation experiences I was mainly blessed by the comforting knowledge that ‘it’s gonna be all right’.   This knowledge is not always helpful, especially so when the challenges are piling up (like that moment I was standing in front of a blank faced clerk who refused to grant me my driver license on the spot, and instead sentenced me calmly to a week of no driving…  With no prior preparation I was quickly drifting into the […]

Re-relocation – the art of re-settling in

This unwanted family move taught me a lot about the qualities I must hold as a Relocation Specialist. Their complicated situation called my abilities as a negotiator, a therapist, and a consultant. I had to maintain my support through the family’s pain, while still keeping my loyalty to my main client, the sending company. Peter and Diane Thompson* have been expats for what seemed like the whole of their adult lives. Soon after their marriage they were already stationed in Hong Kong, and when the kids were born, they moved to Singapore and then to China. The corporate in which […]

On dogs and unwanted moves

Family Visa Application Challenges
Modern family structures call for creativity from visa application teams. The following story reveals some of the challenges in fitting new family constellations into the old, rigid forms of visa applications. The story of Nicola started like any other family relocation. Making my first call I met a nice guy on the other side of the line; looking forward to his family’s coming move from Switzerland to Singapore and excited to find out how to best kick off this adventure. Nothing in the call prepared me to what was coming, and with my Singaporean past we embarked on a lengthy […]

Visa application challenges for the Modern Family

The Lambert case started like any other case. Nothing in the initiation email that reached Nadia’s mailbox prepared her for the saga that was about to evolve. Father, mother and two kids, moving from the UK to Vietnam. HHG shipment, temp accommodation. Even the tick next to the pet shipment service at the bottom of the authorization did not raise any suspicion. Another dog going overseas she assumed. The French accent on the other side of the line did not reveal much at first. A cheerful opening, short chit chat to break the ice, and Nadia was quickly diving into […]

Pet Shipment Story

I’m 43, have been a trailing wife for the last 20 years, never had the opportunity/time/right family situation/legal right to start my own career path and now that the setting is finally perfect is it not too late for me??? A few months ago it suddenly dawned on me. Now it’s my turn. For years, I lived the wonderful colourful life of a trailing spouse. More than twenty years ago we landed in the US. Young couple with 4 suitcases and only one E1 visa. Sorry, no work permit for the spouse, we were told. And that was fine. Resorting […]

Trailing spouse embarking on a new career path

MOVE Guides
A recent approach by a recruiter introduced me to a new relocation support tool by MOVE Guides. While diving into their bright engaging website I was impressed not only by the simplicity it reflects for all stakeholders in the relocation loop, but also by the promise it holds for independent roamers. In a catchy infographic video MOVE Guides describe a seamless application which ties together the various entities involved in the relocation task.  A ‘spider web’ which connects together HRs on both ends, finance specialists, moving companies, real estate agents, and in the midst of it all – the employee with its […]

An interesting Relocation Support App by MOVE

Recently I have finished writing the first draft of the booklet that will accompany my upcoming workshops. This booklet is based on the materials I am presenting in these workshops, as well as comments and reflections from my own experience of the last 20 relocation years and from experiences of fellow expat wives. The concluding chapter of the booklet (after family adjustment, and TCK) deals with the part we ‘expat wives’/’relocation partners’/’trailing spouses’ have in this task (and since I and most of the participants in my workshops are women, I refer mostly to this group). As literature describes it, while […]

Relocating spouses – balancing transition experiences

In their book, Third Culture Kids, Pollock & Van Reken describe the Unresolved Grief in the life of TCKs. As they explain it, repeated cycles of mobility in the life of TCKs are leading to repetitive losses. Over relocations the children often lose a place, a community, or a possession they loved. As the cycles of change and loss are repeated, the normal grief they generate intensifies. And yet, for many TCKs, this grief is never fully expressed. One of the best ways to help TCKs cope with their unresolved grief is to acknowledge its existence by naming the losses, telling […]

Of Unresolved Grief – drawers and memories in our home

As parents of Third Culture Kids we are constantly asking ourselves what is it that we’re giving our kids, and often – what is it that we’re taking away from them. The question of roots and sense of belonging is one that keeps rising in every conversation between expat parents. Where would our kids belong at the end of the day, will they feel connected? Where are their roots? And if they loose them, would they become rootless? Unstable? In a way, Philippino artist Michael Cacnio suggests an answer to this question. To me, his beautiful piece – ‘Time together’, reflects the […]

Roots and branches – parenting Third Culture Kids

Yesterday, we stepped into our temporary apartment. As our home is rapidly being shrunk into a single container we are now spending the nights at the same serviced apartments building we stayed when we just arrived in Singapore, 4 years ago. Stepping into the apartment feels like closing a circle and is therefore pulling the four of us into deep contemplation on the changes we have all gone through in this country. Over dinner we have shared our views of the growth we made – each one comparing himself today to his self who sat in almost the same apartment […]

Family on the roam – becoming a ‘roaming’ family

“You’re missing a stage” she said as we were staring together at the famous U-curve. Like savvy hunters comparing stripes on their belts we were comparing our relocation adventures. Trying to fit each story to a unique shape of yet another alteration to the expat adjustment cycle. I thought we felt quite comfortable with the modern flexibility of the U-curve (or J, or Linear, or a mere tangle, you name it) but she repeated her statement – more fiercely this time – “You’re missing a stage”. My surprised look encouraged her to continue and she pointed to the plateau at the end […]

As we detach – getting ready to say goodbye

Relocating together
I’ve read your post of Curves and Adjustments, she called to say a few days ago. I can definitely relate to the curve, but I’m not sure it’s unique to the expat experience. Well, I said, the U Curve has been used to describe cultural adjustment since the 50’s (Lysgaard first used it in 1955 to describe the adjustment of Norwegian students to the US), but it can sure remind me of many other adjustments in my life. As I was saying that my daughter’s adjustment to her new kindergarten came into my mind. Cheerful and excited she walked hand […]

What’s unique about those relocation adjustments?

Flags heart
What does your flag symbolize? Mine has two blue stripes, representing a prayer for piece, and a star of David, which symbolizes a connection to our past. My kids’ homeland flag has the stars and the stripes, symbolizing each in its turn the 50 states and the 13 first colonies that declared independence from the motherland. But what symbols do we as a family share? Being a family on the move with so many cultural influences – passport countries, host countries, homeland countries – what kind of a flag would represent the colors of my family? In this activity I invite […]

What’s on your flag?

Relocation adjustment is commonly described using the famous four phased U-curve. While reviewing the curve I reflected back to the beginning of our first relocation from Israel to the Silicon Valley, California. We arrived in San Jose in 1997 – young newlywed couple, and no doubt – we had it going! Living just around the corner from San Francisco it sure was a real honeymoon period. Everything seemed like a dream. Rollerblading on the dock in front of the Golden Gate, munching on wonderful food, engaging ourselves in the local ‘shop till you drop’ –  living the American dream, at […]

Of Curves and Adjustments

A frequent question that often rises when discussing relocation is How many expats are there in the world? This question is not easy to answer. Today,  worldwide, there are about 244 million people living outside of their home countries. Some of them are considered migrants, yet others – temporary residents. The lack of a precise definition to the terms “Relocation” and “Expats” makes it difficult to count the actual number of Expats in the world, and yet the surveys predict an increase in these numbers in the coming years.

Relocation in numbers

What would best explain the complex concept of TCK? In a workshop today I chose to introduce the concept through the personal story of my son. I used two colored playdough for illustration (a lovely idea I got from a lecture by Jamie Simpson). While describing the early life of my son I took a small lump of blue clay. As I was kneading the clay I talked of his infancy and added blue chunks for his Israeli birth certificate and Israeli passport – The ‘Paper Culture’ of an Israeli new born baby. To the blue chunks I then started […]

Third Culture Kids?

I first heard the term TCK while riding in a Singaporean taxi. It was shortly after we landed in this new country and the term flew by my ears like a breeze. Interesting… Could it be related to my kids? Not sure. One day I should look into it… Back in those days we were at the midst of our move from Israel to Asia. We already had quite an experience in moving between countries. A decade earlier we started our journey in the US, had our two American citizen kids, moved to a two-year relocation in Australia, and then went back to […]

What is TCK after all?

An introduction to commonly used and less familiar models of adjustment The process of adjustment, and in particular the relocation adjustment is commonly described using four key phases: The Honeymoon / Euphoria phase: This phase includes the period immediately before and after the transition. At this time, the experience is new and exciting. Energy and enthusiasm are at their peak and the transition feels like a long and exciting trip. The Crisis / Cultural Shock phase: At this stage feelings of dissatisfaction and hardship are starting to emerge as the initial excitement is replaced by a feeling of discomfort. This stage […]

Relocation Adjustment – descriptive models