Is It Time to Take Your Kids to Live Abroad?

Posted Friday, March 15, 2013 in Other by Patricia Seybold

Recently, I met a neighbor in our rural Maine town who happily informed me that she was moving to Rome. She said, “I’m single again. My kids are off to college. It seemed like a great time for me to look for a job abroad.” While congratulating her on her adventurous life choice, I thought to myself, “What a shame, she didn’t do that sooner with her kids!”

When I was 10, my family moved from Pennsylvania to Paris, where I attended a French Lycée for 18 months while my father worked at the Quaker Center and my mom brushed up on her French and enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of being in the midst of a cosmopolitan cultural mecca.

While I admit my schoolgirl French is pretty rusty now, there were many other benefits I gained from spending my pre-teen years immersed in another culture. A child at any age is a sponge. Immersing your children in one or more foreign cultures is a gift that will pay off more than private schools, and more than all the dancing and horseback riding lessons money can buy, and more than all the football games and school dances they’ll miss.

When I returned to resume my life in a suburban town in the States, I was able to fit right back in, but I was a different person—one with different experiences, different values, and different perspectives. It was the best gift and the best educational experience I ever had.

Think about it, before it ’s too late for your kids!

1 comment

  • Ronni_author
    Ronni Marshak on March 28, 2013 at 1:32 p.m.

    Just wanted to add my take on this. I, too, lived abroad as a kid. I was born in Israel, but moved to the states when I was under 2, so I'm an American through and through. We went back to Israel when I was 7 for two years, and I had a hard time fitting in. And, when I returned to Rochester NY, all my former friends had formed new alliances and had learned to skate and ski (not a big thing in Israel, although I swam like a fish). My family also toured different countries on every vacation longer than a few days (during our two years in Israel) and I grew very tired of not having a home base.

    To this day, I really don't like to travel for sightseeing. I only enjoy travel when visiting people I care about. I think that's because travel stopped being an adventure and became a chore. I remember that when my mother would say "museum," I would start to cry.


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