When we decided to take the leap and move from the U.S. to Spain, my head started spinning. So many questions, even more worries – and tons of hopes!
I prayed my expat children would meet others from all over the world, try new and interesting foods, pick up a foreign language and grow more independent as a result of their new “expat” status.
Looking back after two years abroad, what we got was so much more! This journey is a part of the canvas of our family forever. As my children grow up and this incredible chapter becomes a distant memory, I want them to cherish the important life lessons we’ve encountered along the way.
And so I’ve written this list to my expat children, for my expat children.
6 Hopes for My Expat Children
1. Accept and Embrace the Differences in Others
Before to moving abroad we would sit and put together our favorite puzzle of the World Map. And with each piece added, we talked about what life was like in those places – how different the world was outside of our own everyday life.
It can be scary to wonder what’s out there but is also the most fascinating and rewarding part of traveling. Your friends here in Spain come from all over the globe – France, China, Russia, Japan, England, Denmark, Turkey, Sweden, India. With each friendship comes a unique opportunity to embrace others’ differences and to realize that regardless of where we come from, we’re all humans running the same race.
2. Take the Path Less Traveled
Henry David Thoreau said living a happy life means to “go confidently in the direction of your dreams and to live the life you’ve always imagined”. Sometimes this will mean staying the course and making responsible decisions.
Other times against your understanding or rationale, it will mean doing the opposite. Taking the path less traveled, going against the grain. It can mean the difference between the extraordinary life you’re living….or one that you only dream of.
3. Choose Experiences Over Stuff
It’s been scientifically proven that buying and owning material possessions does not make us happy. Having new experiences does. They bring more joy. We’re more connected to them. After all, we are the sum total of our personal experiences.
Would you rather talk with friends about your new smartwatch or your trip to the Great Wall of China? The stories of your life should lie in how you spend your days not how you fill your closets.
4. Look Up and Take In the View
We’re such a “wired” society. It seems as if a memory never happened if it wasn’t documented on social media. As a blogger, I too am guilty of this – constantly with my face in my phone. You kids are still young at this point, but I know the time will come when your devices will receive your most undivided attention.
And it’s in those moments when I want you, I challenge you, to disconnect. Learn how to look up, to feel the sun on your face and to be ever-so present in the world. It’s refreshing for the soul and will help keep you grounded from the frenzy of technology.
Don’t miss out on life because you’re too busy documenting it.
5. Be Open to Growth but Stay True to Who You Are
Getting out of your comfort zone can be scary, but it’s also THRILLING. This is when you’ll grow and change the most. You’ll discover who you truly are and what you’re capable of. Be open to discovering this by taking (smart!) risks and having new experiences.
But don’t ever forget what you stand for or where you come from. Remember the values that your Dad and I worked hard to instill in you all. The world will try to mold your thinking and decisions. Do yourself a favor and stay true to who you are.
6. Remember, Wherever You Go My Love Will Follow
When I look back on our two years living abroad, I realize how much you three have grown. Anthony, your shoes have jumped at least three sizes by now. And my baby, London? Well you’re not such a baby anymore. Life can often feel like a race against time…
Sooner than later my little ones will be gone, off spreading your own wings. And as your mom, I want you to. Go see the world. Go expand your horizons. But always know and never forget that family is where your heart is.
Whatever path you each choose in life, may it bring you far and wide but may it also bring you home.