Moving abroad

by Krista Our family recently marked the end of our third month living in India. It has been quite the journey for us, especially for our little people. It continues to be an adventure, that both rewards and challenges our family on an ongoing basis. While it is in many ways just as we expected, there have also been a number of curves thrown our way. This move has certainly presented a number of instances where I have been extremely proud of my children and how well they have adapted, along with a few unanticipated parenting challenges.

We are really lucky, in that Woo, age four, and Goose, age three, never really balked at the idea of moving do far away from home. From the start, we made it seem like a great adventure to them. We made them feel like they were a part of the process by giving them "options" about what flights that we would take to get here, having them "help" us decide how long we were to live here, and where we might visit while we were on the other side of the world. They took to the idea of India when they felt that they were involved in the process. It helped to make the actual lead-up to, and the flights here pretty painless.

This involvement carried through packing for both the shipment and the airplane. They were each given some containers that they were allowed to pack on their own. I didn't try to help, nor did I vet what they put in them. Sure, some crazy stuff landed in there, like cloth books they haven't touched in years, or random drawings made on scrap paper, but it was deemed important for them to have, so it all came. Some things made me shake my head, like Woo's ice hockey shin pads. I was certain they would never get used, and almost broke my rule and suggest that he take them out. I would have been wrong, as he uses them often playing road hockey when he is the goalie (yes we all brought hockey sticks. We are Canadian, after all)!

They took really well to their new house, their rooms and their school, better than we anticipated. It helps that we were able to show them pictures of the places before we arrived, and that we have found ways to make the new places unique. Their rooms here have a small shared playroom between them, where they can meet in the morning and play if they want. There is even a patio that they are allowed to go on, WITHOUT ASKING. We don't have any regular old Canadian trees in our back yard, we have a PAPAYA tree. It doesn't matter that none of us like papaya, there is a tree in our yard, so it is COOL. The new school is big and there are lots of new people there, but there is a SWIMMING POOL. We have become the masters at selling it to the lils, and this has helped us greatly.

Monkey faces! My monkeys, making monkey faces. Excited for the first day of school

They are now extremely good travellers. We have endured several long flights and many long drives (more than I anticipated). It is fairly slow going getting anywhere in Bangalore, or travelling by car to other cities. Driving, even on the highways, is very slow and there is much construction to cause snarls and slow you down even further. Woo and Goose have taken this all in stride. Even the car trips that are ten hours long!

Adapting to the new and wonderful creatures we meet has also been a pleasant surprise. They had no qualms about having geckos living in their rooms, aren't scared of the bugs that are the size of Goose's fist, and report a cobra sighting with a nonchalence that would be inspiring if it wasn't a wee bit bothersome. Both leapt at the chance to touch an elephant when it was offered, even though it was huge. They are also so enamoured with the monkeys that roam freely in the hills near our house that they want one as a pet. I was worried that some of these creatures would bother them, but presented them all (except the cobra) as new and interesting, and they were.

We are very proud of how well they have handled all the change they have faced and the culture-shock that comes with moving from a multi-cultural society where you are part of the visible majority to one where you are in the very small minority. They have been curious but respectful, and very eager to learn about all aspects of Indian culture and the children of other ethnicities that they meet at school. Language and accent have been the biggest barriers for them, but they have been able to catch on very quickly, and are now learning words in Hindi, Spanish, French, German, and Afrikaans!

Holding hands Exploring at the zoo

What has gone well for us has gone really well, thankfully. We have experienced a number of rough patches too, and my next post will talk about those.

Krista is married to Willy and mom to a 4 year old son, Woo, and 3 year old daughter, Goose. A capital family, they are currently living in Bangalore, India for a year.  You can find her at Life in the Hutch or on Twitter @kgraydonald

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