Don’t be afraid to move abroad

Recently, I had the opportunity to go back to where I lived in France. I spent time with old friends and went to my old school, pictured here.

According to the government census, few citizens claimed to have moved abroad in the past year. However, the percent of people who have moved has gone up and is expected to continue to increase.

For the majority of moms, moving their kids abroad seems like an awful idea: a new school, new friends, and if you’re moving abroad then a new culture, and sometimes a whole new language. But after talking to some Leesville students, the concept almost seems… cool.

Isabel Smith, a junior at Leesville, has a life story that’s not hard to believe once you hear her speak. Coming from Sydney, Australia, Smith was eight years old when her parents moved her family to Raleigh, North Carolina.

That’s a big change, both physically and culturally. Imagine spending every single Christmas during summer vacation and starting school in late January instead of late August. That’s just an idea of how difficult the transition was, moving to the U.S.

“It was a really good culture shock [moving to the US] because everyone is really different, and the way people interact with each other and just the school and even the language because sometimes it’s hard to understand what people are saying,” said Smith.

And, at first, it was hard for her family to adjust. Her mother actually took her out of public school to be homeschooled after she decided that she didn’t like the way classes were being taught in America. But Smith insisted on coming back to public school this year and has grown to appreciate many aspects of American life.

“I like the people here obviously, and I do like [that] they have so many choices. They have choices of food, of what you wanna do, there’s just so many opportunities.”

Gabe Oliveira, a sophomore at Leesville, faced a different kind of obstacle–a language barrier.  Oliveira was born in Brazil, and his first language was Portuguese. Over the course of his life,       he’s spent time both in the United States and Mexico.

He admits that there were many obstacles to moving around.

“I didn’t really like [Mexico], but it’s always fun to get to know places that have a different culture, a different everything, and I still wished I lived in Brazil because all my friends are there,” said Oliveira.

From there, Oliveira found that moving to the U.S. had its own benefits and setbacks.

“Here it’s [a] way better place to live but I still had to get to know everyone, get friends, know what people talk about, know what the culture is, know what people like,” said Oliveira.

That’s a tall order for an eleven year old, but these were the problems that kids like Oliveira and Smith faced, and they’re convinced that they’re better off for it.

“It’s really good [to move around] because you learn how to make new friends and learn different cultures and you understand how big the world is,” said Smith.

And Oliveira agreed, talking about how moving around contributes to the legitimacy of one’s opinions and comprehension of the world. The obstacles that come with moving teach great life lessons about compassion, self-confidence and the ability to let yourself screw up (because you’ll never totally understand the culture at first).

From my own background, I can completely agree with these students. I was born in Canada, and spent a few years in Monticello, Illinois before taking a leap and spending three years in Lyon, France. For my three siblings and me, it was definitely a massive learning experience. And it would be far from the truth to say that it was a bed of roses.

As a matter of fact, it was a very traumatizing experience at first for me and my parents. We all had a difficult time adjusting to the schools, and the language. Cultural lessons like wearing speedos at the pool and bringing your own bags to the grocery store were a daily obstacle.

But it still is an experience that I am proud to have. And the fact that I have a community of people on the other side of the world is an amazing feeling.

It’s understandable the setbacks and hesitations when it comes to moving. For a lot of people, the community developed from living in the same place is very comforting. But I would tell anyone to jump on the opportunity move abroad: There are endless possibilities for what you might learn.


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