Just when you think it’s safe to make plans…

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Carole’s ‘Personal Blog’ Update

Welcome to this brand new section of the website – and my personal indulgence – ‘Carole’s Blog’.

If you want to know why I’ve started this now, read the Newsflash #2 at the end of this post – I won’t be offended if you don’t read this entire post – you can always read it later, can’t you?!

My plan

Right now, I don’t have the time nor inclination to set up yet another new site* and keep it filled with content so I’m incorporating my personal blog into Expat Child.

I plan to only update when I feel the need to write in my own personal voice about my own personal life and so on. There’s no escaping the fact that blogging is a wonderful outlet for those of us who enjoy writing, but keeping ExpatChild running is a full time job. It’s just that sometimes I want to ‘free-write’ so this will be my place to do so.

This plan may change. Any plans I make have a tendency to do this.

Back in 2006 when we first moved overseas from the UK to Japan our plans looked like this:

Spend the obligatory four years of our posting in Tokyo, and then look for another overseas posting. Stay overseas for as long as possible; at least until our daughter had finished primary school and then settle back in the UK.

There were business considerations though: back-to-back postings are rare and there is usually a need to spend time in the UK before returning overseas. This must play havoc with schooling, but we figured we’d deal with that if and when it arose. Husband is also not permitted to apply for jobs before a certain time scale.

Therefore, a year before our stay in Tokyo ended, husband started to look for another job, but they were scarce. It seemed like we’d be returning to the UK after all, so I applied to schools there for our daughter. Thankfully he was fortunate to secure our posting to Berlin at almost the last moment.

End and start dates didn’t match up, so then I had to plan for temporary schooling for the intervening months we’d have to spend in the UK. Depending on the length of time we’d have to spend in the UK, daughter would either attend a school for a few months or I would attempt to home school her. Plans even included living with my Mother for a while.

Plans were changing every week by this point as the behind-the-scenes machinations clunked away. Frankly, it was an utter nightmare!

But of course it didn’t work out like that.

Our stay in Japan was extended. Hurrah! And we moved directly from Tokyo to Berlin with no complicated short stay in the UK.

Berlin-based plans

So, now we’re nearly halfway through our four year posting in Berlin with new plans.

The timing is fine: our daughter would finish her primary and middle schooling and be ready to join a good senior school in the UK. There was no way the employers would let us do another back-to-back posting, so this plan was pretty concrete, and absolutely fine.

Concrete crumbles under pressure…

Unfortunately the schools here have not been at all good for our daughter. She’s attended two already and it’s just not working. There is no way that she would be able to get into a school in the UK without a lot of extra tuition to get her up to speed with the British curriculum. And it’s not just the educational side of things that haven’t worked out: she’s been subjected to bullying, confidence-destroying teaching and more. The stress has been almost unbearable for all of us.

The worldwide economic climate has far-reaching tentacles and husband’s job was in the balance for a while. The latter months of last year were very worrying and we felt we had to make a decision to secure our daughter’s healthy future.

Newsflash #1

Last autumn we enrolled daughter in a fantastic boarding prep school in the UK. She is starting there in a few weeks. She is absolutely thrilled and excitedly looking forward to it: she’s always wanted to go to boarding school and it will be so good for her.

I’ll let you know how I cope with it… For now I’m planning fun trips to the UK to visit her during her exeats and half terms. In between planning I admit to sobbing my eyes out. I never wanted to be the parent of a child at boarding school, but it’s for her that we are doing this.

Plans change again!

Amidst all the preparation for this dramatic change of family circumstances, in February 2013, a very unusual and unexpected job opportunity came up for my husband . It was unusual because you don’t leave a posting early except under exceptional circumstances.

It was ‘suggested’ that he apply. He had nothing to lose by going for it and everything to gain: a promotion and a chance to escape from Berlin. It’s no secret that we don’t like it here.

But it was a very long shot. And as the weeks passed after the interviews, hope slowly disappeared.

Until Friday 8th March…

Newsflash #2

We are on the move again!

We are moving to Pretoria, South Africa!

And very soon too, although no dates have been confirmed yet.


It’s hard to make plans when life can turn on its head in a few moments. But I am tremendously pleased that we managed to get our daughter’s schooling sorted out before this happened.

*I have two other unfinished blogs at the moment: Japanory and Berlinfusion. I had planned to go back and finish Japanory as I do have diary entries for the missing months but it feels wrong to do that after the Japanese Tohoku earthquake of March 11th 2011. Berlinfusion came to an end because I couldn’t think of anything interesting to write about this place. Apologies to any Berlin fans – I’m just not one of them.

Besides, I don’t think I could top those blog names again!

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  1. Hello Carole, I rarely leave messages on blogs, but wanted to thank you for your posts about your daughter’s school experience in Berlin and first want to congratulate you on your new posting. I live in London, my boyfriend is in Berlin and I was seriously considering moving there for a few years. The problem is that I find the international/bi-lingual schools confusing in their criteria and my son is in secondary school, also needs extra support and I wonder about making friends. Is it ever possible to send you a direct message when your life settles down as it’s hard to find people who’s children have attended Berlin schools who aren’t settling down for the long term–ie, it’s refreshing to hear about what didn’t work. Really glad that boarding school is a good experience for her.

    1. Hello Raeshel,

      Thank you so much for visiting. I hope you’ve found the site useful in clarifying your thoughts.

      Please do get in touch! I’d be more than happy to chat to you about this. It may be better to contact me now so it’s all still fresh in my head as I’ve heard it may be several months before I’m online again.

      Contact me through the link on the top of the page and we can start chatting! Or perhaps this link will work http://expatchild.com/contact/

      I look forward to hearing from you.

  2. Congratulations, I hope you enjoy your new posting. I went to UK boarding school at 11 and my sister had to go at 8. She spent two years in a primary in Nigeria but it was not working out for her. We flew home to Nigeria (or wherever home was) each long holiday, spent exeats at the homes of school friends and the half terms with grandparents in the Netherlands or Ireland.

    We both turned out ok, boarding school is pretty good fun and the airlines are fine at looking after unaccompanied minors. School would send taxis to bring us to and pick us up form the airport and my parents also booked a ‘Universal Aunt’ service to see us through check in and to the gate in the UK as we had no family there but only until I was old enough to take care of us both in the airport (about 13).

    It sounds like a wonderful adventure for your family.

    1. Thank you for your very reassuring words 🙂
      She is settling in wonderfully well, has made heaps of friends already and is being kept extremely busy! In fact, in the phone calls we’ve had, she’s been too busy with her activities and friends, and too tired from sports, that she doesn’t have time to talk to her mere parents!! This can only be a Good Thing.

  3. You will love Pretoria and if the UK doesn’t work out there are good schools there. We are in Botswana just north of South Africa.

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