Happy Birthday to ExpatChild!
I’ve been writing about expat life for 10 years!
Well, I’ve been writing for much longer than that, but my ExpatChild.com site is celebrating its 10th birthday this year!
Launched in 2012, ExpatChild’s initial incarnation was as a kind of online magazine. Before I moved overseas, back in 2006, I used to run my own magazine – a real, hard-copy paper one, and I loved publishing, and writing. So, it seemed natural to me to recreate this idea online – eventually.
Because the idea for this site actually started as an idea for a book – but any writer knows book writing is a painful process! Also, I was missing writing my very popular blog, Japanory, as by that point, I’d moved away from Japan.
How and why ExpatChild was born
I could find nothing online that was simple, straightforward and in plain English to help prepare my girl for a move.Let me go back in time a little to explain why and how ExpatChild came about in the first place.
We were in Tokyo when the big earthquake struck in 2011, preparing to move in the April following the 11th March disaster.
My daughter was already finding the prospect of moving away from Japan to an unknown country extremely challenging – even before the earthquake. When we moved for the first time, from the UK to Japan, she was just five years old. And as I’ve said somewhere in this site, moving with little ones is really easy.
By the time of our next move, she was 10 years old, a much more difficult age for a child to relocate. She would be leaving the only school she’d known, all her lovely friends, and really, the only life she understood, as she had lived in Japan longer than she had lived in the UK by then.
Before the quake struck, I could find nothing online that was simple, straightforward and in plain English to help prepare my girl for a move. There were plenty of places discussing very specific and therefore, irrelevant to me, topics such as, ‘Which is the best school in Paris?’ and ‘Where should I live in Washington?’ That was all I could find, apart from long, over-complex psychological rambles about transition, therapy and so on. Yawn.
I simply didn’t have the brain-space, the capacity to wade through pages of word salad and attempt to decipher what they meant for me.I was already incredibly busy organising the move, the pets, being mum, working etc, then with the added horror of the earthquake, I was more than overwhelmed. I simply didn’t have the brain-space, the capacity to wade through pages of word salad and attempt to decipher what they meant for me.
Not a great start to life in Berlin
PTSD… settling into life in a new country was even tougher than it normally is.Anyway, we finally made the move from Tokyo to Berlin, all of us with varying degrees of PTSD. Needless to say, my daughter suffered from this far more seriously, so settling into life in a new country was even tougher than it normally is. (She’s had therapy for it, now.) There were other issues around that time in Berlin too, that I won’t share here, so, the beginning of our new life in Germany wasn’t off to a great start.
Live blogging and social media reporting on the big earthquake in Japan had burned me out, so although I planned to continue blogging from Berlin, my heart wasn’t in it. I gave it a go, but just couldn’t find the personal blogging mojo.
I was also working as a freelance writer (great portable career, by the way!) but got bored with writing about topics I didn’t resonate with – ‘How to Paint Your Room’, or ‘Anger Management Tips’ in 250 words, anyone?
You may not know that I also had another business while I was in Japan – and this may make you laugh – it was called ‘Dear Fairies’ and I’d write letters ‘from the fairies’ to kids around the world. It was fabulous fun! Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t continue it from Germany as the postage costs were too high. Can you imagine? Posting from Germany to the UK was more expensive than mailing a package from Japan to the UK. So, that had to stop.
And therefore I was bored. I don’t do bored.
I needed to write
I needed to write. A writer’s gotta write!
There was still a gap in the online expat world, so I chose to fill it.And then, during the long summer holidays of 2011 I had the idea for ‘The Book’. I planned out all my chapters, and notes about moving and living abroad with children. I did actually make a start writing it, but life got in the way and it stalled until the following year.
All writers know how long a book takes to write, and I wanted some instant gratification. There was still nothing useful online about moving overseas with children: there was a gap in the online expat world, so I chose to fill it. And so, in 2012, ExpatChild was born!
Within a few months, I was contacted by The Telegraph for an interview, and ExpatChild very soon became the go-to site for expats to find practical, non-fluffy, sensible advice about moving abroad with their kids.
In those early days, I was the only person writing about this aspect of moving and living overseas with children. That’s obviously changed now! Yet I’m still going, with no intention of stopping.
There are now nearly 500 articles on ExpatChild!
In the images here I’ve given a very brief insight to the kinds of topics I talk about here on ExpatChild and the Expatability Chat Podcast. There’s a hell of a lot more to it, of course.
I’ll pop some quick links at the end of this piece to some of the key topics on ExpatChild, and, of course, you can use the search function to look for what you need right now.
But wait! There’s more!
And I didn’t stop there…
I created The Expat Directory as an offshoot for expat-focused business to share their fabulous offerings.
Oh, and I did write a couple of books in the end. One about Packing for your move overseas, of all things! ‘Plan And Pack For Your Overseas Move’ is available as an eBook or ‘real’ book – you can find the details here.
And my book about choosing a school overseas: ‘Expat Education: An Expat’s Guide to Choosing a School Overseas’ Available on your local Amazon. Or, if you want instant information, I have created an abridged version as an eBook here: ‘How to Choose a School Overseas‘.
Plus some eBooks and packing lists to help you with your move abroad. I do like to keep myself busy – and more importantly, help YOU make your move abroad as easy and as stress-free as possible!
I would like to end by saying a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me and ExpatChild over the years. I appreciate you all.
Do drop me a message if you have any questions. And check out the links below for more info about moving overseas with your kids (or even without children, because many of my articles can apply to any expat!)
Prepare and Plan for Your Move Abroad: Everything you need to know to help you plan your overseas move.
Expat Life With Children: Everything you need to know about parenting an expat child and some of the unique situations life overseas can bring to the family.
Expat Life – The Highs and Lows: What is expat life really like? Expat life is AMAZING! Yet it can also present some unique challenges. Challenges which may be unexpected if you’re not well prepared.
And, if you would like to use my brain on your expat dilemma, book a call with me!
I can help you overcome overwhelm, give you experienced advice on how to prepare for your new life, and pretty much advise and help you with ‘anything expat’!
I look forward to meeting you.