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Teenager expat: is changing school a nightmare or a dream come true?

Life for an adult expat has been evaluated and described many times over, but how it is for the children? Teenagers especially, experience abrupt changes in different ways. Andrew describes what is has been like for him and gives some suggestions on how to manage the downsides of change. School change and changing schools are possibly the hardest part of a relocation for a teenager. How to avoid the blues of a school change heard from people who had done it!

Changing schools can be considered to be a wonderful thing but also an intensely annoying time.  That is where I ("I" as in an expat kid which has relocated several times around the world) come in.
There are many ways to improve your life when changing schools, for instance, if in your old school you loathed a teacher or got some bad marks, or did not get on with your peers then, naturally you can look at the change as a new opportunity which opens a new horizon.
In the new school you can start afresh,  your new teachers won’t know what you are like (academically speaking, of course!) and that way you can work on getting on their good side. 
Also if you were a bit of a loner, arriving in a new school might give you the courage to challenge yourself...  yes, why not try to act a bit differently? You might have a chance this time to become popular (no promises!).
If you think of it this way, than the change may not seem so bad, after all.
Another possibility is that the change in school gives you a chance for new subjects and to drop the one you hate (depending on your grade). I know this because I recently started my GCSE’s and dropped history and geography; and I picked a few better classes.
There is always a chance in a new school to try new things such as new sports. I  tried rugby and AFL (Aussie Rules Football), these are fun sports.  If you have a chance you should try.
In a new place there are a lot of new boundaries to cross, such as learning to drive, maybe you did not speak the host country language in your previous school/country, but you can try to learn the one in your new location.
Once you have done things like this, the sky’s the limit... may be ;-)

Moving, moving and moving again... what a pain? Or not!

If you are the sort of person who moves country every few years (or even less) then your life must seem pretty difficult! Yes? 

There are a few ways to make this constant upheaval easier. If you think that moving to places such as North or South America would be hard because of the difference in culture you are all too wrong because in most of these places there are thousands of people ready to embrace newer cultures (yep, you are it, I mean the newer culture!).

If you have just moved to Paris (like me!), then you must think that the language barrier will be to hard to break (unless you already speak French, I unfortunately don't, I am from English speaking Canada) then you are wrong again, because there are very many people who speak English, and are willing to do so, as well as some other languages (which I am not challenging myself with). 

The best possible thing to do when you get to a new country/city is start school, so you can make friends and therefore you will be able to start doing other things and learning about your new area.  If school is closed (it happens to arrive during the summer break, argh!) you might find someone from staff who may kindly put you in touch with kids in the area, so do call the school even if it is closed or make sure you have beforehand some names of people to contact when you arrive.

Once you have friends you should be able to do a lot more than you would be able to do without the knowledge that your friends can pass on to you.

I have learned the hard way that it pays to think positive, for example, the next move you will have to endure could actually be good especially, like in my case, if it is to France.... here you can learn to drive a moped at age 14 and therefore avoid asking your parent(s)/guardian to drive you around. 

There are many benefits to moving country, so find them first, instead of deciding beforehand that your assignement is not very nice.

Rule N. 1: Keep your friendships. How to stay in touch

Chances are that you will leave some of your friends behind when you move  (that happens even if youare leaving behind the worst school you have ever attended!). Many of you are surely familiar with the many ways in which you can stay in contact.  The best and cheapest way for you to maintain links with your friends is to use e-mail, this means of course that wherever you go, you will need an internet connection or a mobile phone with internet access... not a given in some countries, I am afraid.

If you have an Internet connection then you should have an e-mail address, it will also allow you to take part in instant conversation that are offered free of charge by companies such as Google, MSN/Hotmail, Yahoo and you can talk to your friends for longer and cheaper in retrospect. 

If you no longer wish to keep an email address, then leave it alone for a month and it will be deleted.

There are many options to set up free email accounts online (most commons are: yahoo, hotmail, google, but there are less know options like and various other)

Yahoo: World renown portal with all sorts of info and functionalities, like instant chat, free mail (250 MB free storage space), group creation etc.If you accidentaly leave your address alone for over 30 days you account will only become dorant; you can retrieve it free of charge.


Hotmail/MSN: This is also a very well know (maybe even more so than yahoo), and it has all the faeture that Yahoo has, yo can have up to 25 people talking to each other at the same tie in a chat room (but only if the creator invites them).  Although if your account is inactive for over 30 days it will be deactivated (250 MB free storage space).


Google: a well known search engine although it is not so well known for its emailing ability, but it has exactly the same features that hotmail/msn has, plus the advantage that if you have to - out of conditions due to the move - not used your address for over 30 days, your account will only become dormant; you can retrieve it free of charge (300 MB free storage space).

This is very simple, all you have to do is create an e-mail address and get your friends to create their own (if you don’t already have one) then all you have to do is type out whatever is on your mind and they will receive it in a matter of milliseconds!

Snail mail and telephones...

More conventional ways to stay in contact such as snail mail and telephones, are usually more fulfilling but they are sometimes not very cost or time effective (in one case your parents pay - and many are not willing to!!! -  in the other you pay, by may be for ages and I am afraid to say that waiting is not in my list of things to do).