A Global Education – Part 1

A TCKchat from a couple of months ago made me realize what a unique and privileged education I’ve had. Not only have I gone to schools around the world (and that is an education in itself), but I have also gone to different types of schools. I’ve attended international/American schools in Mexico, the Philippines and France; local schools in the U.S. and Australia, and went on to study in French and British universities.

What’s interesting is that each school and experience was unique. Even among the international/American schools, each one was different – in size, community, diversity, interaction with the locals and local culture etc. For the local schools, both of my experiences were vastly different, due to age, location and where I had lived before I attended them.

This isn’t just about the schools, however, it’s also about what I learned through them and the countries they were located in. It’s not simply about the academics, but also what I learned about the world, about cultures, and about interactions with different people.

Attending a Local School Down Under

The local school in the U.S. was the first school I ever went to (after kindergarten), so I hadn’t experienced my TCKness or a TCK environment yet. I was technically already a TCK, since I was living outside my parent’s culture and I was born in Cyprus, but for me I was just another kid going to school. I have a few memories from that school but I left when I was eight years old.

By the time I attended my second local school, in Australia, I was 13 years old, living in my 5th country, and had several years of TCK experience under my belt. Suddenly I was thrust into a totally unfamiliar school system, with nearly no other foreigners, expats or TCKs. To make matters worse, we arrived for the last 2-3 weeks of the school year, which made things especially awkward. Starting at the end of the year makes you stand out and feel even more alone. When you arrive at the beginning of the year, everyone is still adjusting to classes. They may all know each other, but it’s still a brand new year. You have more of a chance of finding your feet, or trying to blend in. To add to the already tumultuous situation, it was the first time we had to wear a school uniform. Needless to say, it was not a smooth transition and the first few weeks were not fun.

Despite the initial upheaval, however, I ended up loving it there. I made wonderful friends, I was involved in sports, did well at school, and I was happy. I tried new things, like rowing (which I loved), and went on camping trips with the school, seeing breathtaking parts of Australia. I made incredible memories and long-lasting friendships. One of my closest friends to this day is someone I met in Sydney, and I haven’t seen her since I left – almost 15 years ago. We only spent two years there, but I was devastated when we left. That was definitely something I didn’t expect, considering I had not been surrounded by other TCKs like me. But I think that when you’re young, you’re less judgmental. We were kids, we got along, we had sunshine, beach and teenage dreams. What else could someone ask for at that age?

I’m happy I had that time in Australia and a chance to see a different system, even if it wasn’t always easy. It ensured I didn’t just have one experience and grow up entirely in a TCK/expat bubble. It gave me an even wider scope with which to view the world. From a cultural and academic standpoint, it taught me a lot.

Part 2 coming soon: my experiences with International/American schools and culture; and how education is about more than just academics…


3 thoughts on “A Global Education – Part 1

  1. I love reading posts like this. As the mother of two Australian kids attending a local elementary school in America it’s great to have a student’s perspective (I’m not a TCK). Moving between the northern and southern hemispheres can be difficult with the different school calendars. My son started school one random Monday in February after arriving in-country in January as soon as we had the lease signed on our house and the local school district would accept him. I think he (and we) have been very lucky with his school. Whilst it’s a regular elementary school in one of the U.S’s largest school districts it has a huge international population (not just diplomats but right across the board) with many different countries, cultures and languages represented. Thus I feel like he’s getting the U.S school experience but also a lot more. I was also pleased for him that he was only the new kid for a week before someone else arrived!


    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Amanda! It’s true that moving between northern/southern hemispheres and different school calendars adds another layer of complexity to an international move. I’m really happy to hear that there is an international population at your kids’ school and that there was another new kid shortly after you arrived. That usually makes things easier as you’re not the odd one out! I hope your kids are loving their experiences and that the transition wasn’t too difficult at the beginning.

      The truth is, no matter how many challenges we had to overcome or how tough a move was, I would do it all over again. We were lucky that my parents were always supportive, understanding and patient through every move. They involved us in every part of the process and allowed us to express all our range of emotions (even when it wasn’t easy for them, I’m sure). And having siblings was also what made it easier. There’s always someone to share the experiences/emotions with, someone who gets it like no one else will.

      Apologies for the long-winded response, but I love comments like yours when someone shares their stories and experiences! Thanks again for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it. And by the way, your blog is great – wish we’d had the chance to meet at FIGT!

      Liked by 1 person

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