Having a Foreign Affair in SE Asia – Part II

When Linsey McMullen makes decisions about what courses she wants to take for the following school year, the 17 year old Indianapolis born American is similar to most North American girls her age. 

If she’s an academic high-flyer interested in pursuing the sciences, she might choose AP Biology.

If she’s keen to pursue Journalism or Communications, perhaps she’ll focus on AP Writing or Literature.

Arguably though, one of Linsey’s greatest advantages isn’t coming from her academic classes at Singapore American School —but from an exposure that, perhaps, only an international school setting can provide.

Dalai LamaLinsey joins Stanford, Connecticut born Ava Mehta and more than a thousand other students in an educational adventure unlike anything offered in Canada or the U.S.

Ava gushes about living overseas in general: “How many kids can say they’ve spoken Spanish in Barcelona, debated in Taipei during a school competition and visited Cambodia for Spring Break?”

Ironically, Ava’s just hitting the tip of the iceberg.

Most of the larger international schools in SE Asia plan annual, exotic, cultural excursions to broaden the minds and perspectives of their students.  If you’re a parent of high-school age kids, and if you get transferred overseas, your kids may be in for the cultural experience of a lifetime.

Will we really meet the Dalai Lama?

At Singapore American School every February, all 1000 high school students disperse to foreign locales to broaden their experiences.  All of them. 

This year, my wife and I will be taking 20 students to Dharamsala, India– where our students (in the past) have met and spoken with the Dalai Lama

The trips are mandatory.  And as seniors this year, Ava Mehta and Linsey McMullen will have choices to take their 10 day trip to one of 30 different countries—with 50 different “course” destinations represented.  There’s a pecking order based on seniority, so seniors choose first.

Some of the choices include the following:

  • Homebuilding in Cambodia
  • Trekking in Tibet
  • Living with the locals on the Riau islands of Indonesia
  • Adventuring in the Everest area of Nepal
  • French immersion in France… or Spanish immersion in Spain
  • Exploring ruins in Turkey… or Jordan… or Egypt…

Singapore American School isn’t the only expatriate school offering such experiences.  Most of the top schools add their own flavor to these excursions with an educational twist.

Dr. Vicki  Rogers, who did her dissertation on Third Culture Kids (children who grow up in an alternate culture) shares some further benefits of growing up overseas.  She and her husband, Matt, both attended Singapore American school, and now that they’re in their 30s, they consider both Colorado and Singapore home.

Matt, currently based in Singapore, works for Aman Resorts, possibly the most luxurious resorts on Earth.  Among Matt’s marketable attributes are the contacts he established as an international student.  Third culture kids develop professional networks that typically surpass those of kids who grow up in traditional environments.


Besides a global education, a future professional network, and the tolerance that comes with being a “colorblind” third culture kid, there are also a few drawbacks:

Seventeen year old Mexican born Rodrigo Gonzalez has lived in Mexico; Caracas, Venezuela; New York, and Singapore.  He doesn’t like the feeling of “looking like a local, but feeling like a tourist in Mexico.”

He echoes the struggles with a “home identity” that many third culture kids talk about:  not to mention missing important birthdays and celebrations of friends and families in other countries.

Third culture kids often seek an identity as a group, and they’ve been coming together online to voice that at Denizen. 

Having immersed myself in a culture of nomadic students, I’m often drawn to the question:

“Would you rather have stayed in the U.S. or Canada, instead of doing all (or some) of your schooling overseas?”  

 The response to that question is virtually unanimous.  But are they in favour of living internationally as kids, or not? 

What do you think they say?

And would you or wouldn’t you “do this to your kid?”

Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School and Millionaire Expat: How To Build Wealth Living Overseas. My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions.

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92 Responses

  1. DIY Investor says:

    I would guess they might say "stay in the U.S. or Canada". I was an Army brat and thus picked up every 2 or 3 years and had to start over making friends etc. I lived 2 years in Germany and part of that time was with the German people as my family waited for housing on the base. I didn't like the moving around.

    But, as an adult, I came to see how valuable it was in terms of knowing a lot of different people and knowing parts of the country and world better than most people. I came to understand that it was a valuable experience. My experience was, of course, nowhere near as broad as that of the students at the Singapore American School. I have had friends, though, whose parents were diplomats and they have told me amazing stories of their childhoods in various countries. I have to say that I never met one who wasn't an outstanding conversationalist.

    What I want to know is how you got the title past your wife. 🙂

  2. Hey Robert,

    You must have had some interesting experiences yourself!

    I'm going to see what other readers think before answering that final question I posed. You feel that they would have preferred staying grounded in the U.S. or Canada. I'm curious to think what other readers think.

    It's going to be interesting, because we sometimes view the world through our own lens, rather than someone else's. Big decisions, like moving overseas, might be great for us, but for our kids…

    From my angle here, as I mentioned, the result of the question: "Would you rather be in a single stable environment in North America or live here?" does present nearly a unanimous answer.

    I don't want to reveal that right away. I want to hear what others think first.

    Thanks for getting the ball rolling Robert.

  3. @DIY Investor

    Hey Robert,

    I forgot about your last question/comment. Yeah, in the land of "special massages" some people might wonder how my wife handled the title, "Having a Foreign Affair". It's a good thing she reads my posts–rather than jumping to conclusions after seeing a steamy title!

  4. Haha, I like that answer… although, there are special massages everywhere 😉

    I would have loved to have attended those schools, Andrew. It really sounds like your kids had some great experiences, and didn't have the misfortune of having their soul sucked out of them, like happens at many public schools here. My answer to "“Would you rather have stayed in the U.S. or Canada, instead of doing all (or some) of your schooling overseas?” is a resounding no.

    As for whether I would "subject" my kids to this experience… I don't know. Living for 20+ years in the same place is a long time… especially with the world changing so rapidly. I may be resistant to change, but I am also ambitious.

  5. Hi Andrew,

    I am enjoying this series and have this to answer your question. I would not do this to my kids simply because my kids are already exposed to multiculturalism. At ~4years old they are exposed to three languages and different cultural elements at home. I do not think it is smart to add 1 more dimension to the mix for now 🙂

  6. @Kevin@InvestItWisely

    Hey Kevin,

    It sounds like you would have enjoyed an international schooling experience, but if you had kids, you'd be somewhat on the fence with the idea. It sounds like you know yourself: that you're adventurous, but you also recognize that it (overseas schooling) wouldn't suit everyone, and that if you were making the choice for someone else (ie. your kids) you wouldn't be inclined to necessarily figure that your interests will be your kids' interests. That sounds pretty wise to me.

  7. @Mich@BeatingTheIndex

    Hey Mitch,

    What languages are your kids exposed to? I'm assuming they're French, English and…..

    Your kids are really going to thank you for that. Are your kids going to be taking immersion classes. I really wish I was exposed to three languages as a kid.

  8. This whole thread is giving me an idea.

    It's the first week of school for me. Today, I have an English 9 class and an English 11 class. I don't even know my students' names yet, because I've only had one 30 minute session with these kids.

    But every class has a wireless connection, and every kid is required to come to school with their own laptop. So—-I'm going to pose some questions for them to answer on this forum, if they're interested. I'll learn a lot about them, and we'll all get to hear from some very diverse perspectives.

    Students of the World! Here's what I'm asking:

    1. Where have you lived? Where were you born? How long have you lived in Singapore? How old are you?

    2. With specific details, what do you like about living overseas?

    3. What do you dislike about it?

    4. How much schooling (if any) have you done in your country of birth?

    5. What business are your parents involved in? ie. What do they do? Who do they work for?

    And now the big question:

    If you had control of your destiny, would you have preferred to do all of your schooling in your home of birth, or do you prefer doing some (or all) of your schooling overseas?

    Please answer the final question with more than just a "yes" or "no" response. After all, I can learn a lot about you through this.


  9. That is so cool, Andrew… your kids are lucky to have such a cool teacher! My girlfriend has been exposed to three languages since she was a kid, and it's been a big plus for her, too. Me, on the other hand, I've been exposed to one and a half, as I haven't quite managed to master the second… let alone third, haha.

  10. Sriram says:

    In my childhood I'd moved around several times in a short period (within Canada), but then also lived in Argentina for 3 straight years – during which I went to an elementary school that catered mostly to expat Americans, but had students from around the world.

    The years in Argentina were better than the moving around Canada – the differentiating factor to me was that we settled there for a decent block of time. It's the frequent moves that I didn't like as a child (esp. the making and leaving friends). My recomendation to families would be to do this, but to make it stick – it's fine to go somewhere "exotic", just stay there for a few years. It's much more stable for the kids than frequent moves.

  11. @Andrew Hallam

    I actually did a 4 month exchange in South Korea during my university years, which was very nice… I wish I had had opportunities like that during my K-11 years. I know that my experience is subjective, but I feel that K-11 was a big waste of time and a destroyer, save for a couple decent years at the end.

    You are right, I would be hesitant about uprooting my kids, especially since I had an unpleasant experience regarding that, myself. However, if I truly believed it was for the best, I would make my case to them, and try to get them to see that, too.

  12. Jerone Abueva says:

    I'm 17 right now and will be finishing high school this year. I was born in LA but have never lived there. I studied in the Philippines till I was 7 then moved to Singapore and have been here for 10 years now. We were moved to Singapore because my mom works in the company Procter and Gamble. I really like the fact that I live in a country like Singapore and go o an international school. Not only does it let me experience so many new things but I's also able to meet people from different cultural backgrounds and experience a diversity in culture and languages. Also, since Singapore is like a port, I am able to travel to a lot of other countries in South east Asia as well as beyond, not only on school interims but over the school breaks as well. I wouldn't change my experience of living in Singapore at all but if i could I would probably want to experience living in so many more countries.

  13. Han Qiang says:

    I have lived in Singapore my whole life even though my place of birth is malaysia, i am 17. Although I have not lived overseas before, coming to SAS makes me feel like i am actually studying overseas. I am kind of new so i can't really comment on whether i like it or not. It is definitely different from studying at a local school in terms of communication and the way which we are thought in the classroom. Participation is a key factor in which how it differs from the local system. I wouldn't mind studying overseas for a few years because i know that the experience would be really different from studying in Singapore.

  14. KDas says:

    Hey Mr. Hallam,

    My life is quite special to me, and I don't think there's a lot I would change about it. Anyway, I would like to tell you a little something about myself. I am 17 years old and have lived in Singapore for the last 11 years. I have also attended UWC and have lived in New Delhi, India, as well. Living there is a sort of a vague memory for me – I don't recall much. However, I do at times miss my friends and family after returning from a holiday there, at least once a year.

    In addition, I really like Singapore because of the two fantastic schools; I have had the opportunity to study in: Singapore American School and United World College. Note: SAS is better though….The city, the cleanliness, the infrastructure, the public transport makes life so much easier and less frustrating than in India. However, I do tend do miss close ones back home. Economically though, the opportunity cost is outweighed by the benefits of living in a hub like Singapore.

    Saying this goes to show that even if I could "refresh" my life, I wouldn't. I have become a better person due to my experiences and I like who I am. Also I am very happy "playing the cards that I am dealt".

    Your student,


  15. Jeeth S says:

    I'm 16, and my dad works for a university so I've been here for awhile – around 12 years. I've lived in Singapore for 12 years. I've never been to school in India, where I was born, but given the choice I probably wouldn't do it any other way. I mean, Singapore isn't the best place in the world, but it's location as a shipping hub means that many of the people who come here and go to my school aren't from the same place as me. In India, everyone would have been from the same neighborhood, and would have grown up in the same environment. For me, the experience really wasn't disheartening, but more of a way to learn more about different cultures and people. So, no, I wouldn't have done it differently if I had the choice, because I wouldn't have been exposed to such a variety of people and places if I had stayed in my home country. If you ask me, the trade was worth it – although things like not being able to be there for the important moments in my family, or not being able to see my cousins every year are sad.

  16. Sneha Easwaran says:

    Hey Mr. Hallam,

    I've lived in Singapore for most of my life, at least for about 10 years and spent 5 years in Dubai. I was born and brought up here and I am a Singaporean Citizen. Moving back from Dubai to Singapore was such a big change for me because both the cultures are completely different. I've been in SAS for about 6 years, this is currently my 7th. Ever since I was born here, I attended the local Kindergarten school and then, due to my dad's job (he works as a CFO in Gunung Steel Group, an Indonesian company), we moved to Dubai but quickly moved back to Singapore. I feel that living in Singapore has given me a lot of insight into different cultures and ethnicities and I definitely do feel at home here.

  17. Nicole Hussey says:

    As a 17 year old Junior, growing up and developing an understanding of why this would be my 17th year living overseas is somewhat complex. My dad's job is the answer to that one, he's lived here for 25 years and has worked with the his company, Aviall Aviation, for over 20 years. As for my mum, she's from Singapore and now is a stay-hom mum working hard to keep the family in line. Although time to time, she gets back into her desired career of modeling once in a while but with two teenage girls and one twenty year old son, her desire and passion are her kids.

    Singapore is small yet so diverse with different learning opportunities including an eye-opening experience to student's and adult's as to what a developed city is like. Being born and raised here is something I would never regret especially attending Singapore American School for my 12th year now, being able to interacting and growing up with kids from all around the world gives you such a respect and appreciation for the rest of the world and which prepares you for the people you may encounter in the "real world" and the cultures you might possibly stumble upon one day. Singapore is amazing and I'm thankful of my dad's job being located here as living her was the best decision my parents made for me and my siblings.

  18. Rachel Khan says:

    Hi Mr Hallam,

    I've been in Singapore all my life. I was born in Singapore, but left to Miami, Florida for 2 years. After living in Miami, we came back and have been Singapore ever since. I am the second of 6 children. My older brother, Andrew, goes to Raffles Instituiton and will be taking A levels in november this year. My younger sister, Sarah, goes to Singapore Chinese Girls School. My youngest sister, Alania, has a year before she enters Primary 1. My younger brother, Joseph, just turned 4 and is attending Pets School House. My youngest brother, Drew, just turned 2. My dad has his own company, Robert Khan & Co., which does valuing . My mom is a housewife, but she used to work as an accountant. I like Singapore, because of its security at any time of the day, the food, the weather (most of the time). I don't think there is anything I dislike about Singapore yet. Before joining SAS in 7th grade, I previously attended Singapore Chinese Girls School until Primary 6 (when I took PSLE). I have enjoyed my time in SAS and since this is my senior year, I'm turning 17 in October, I will make the most of it. I hope to study in either Switzerland, Australia or Hawaii as they have a few of the best hospitality schools. In the long run, I hope to be a restaurant owner/chef.

  19. Sanjna Malik says:

    My name is Sanjna, I'll be sixteen in October and this August has just marked my fourteenth year living in Singapore. Despite my being born in my mother's hometown of Bangalore, India, my parents were already living in Singapore for about three years by the time I came into existence. I moved to Singapore for the first time when I was three months old and lived the first three and a half years of my life here, then, we moved to Texas.

    Being a toddler at the time it wasn't at all a big change, after all, it was more than I could possible understand at that age. I don't remember much about Texas, having only lived there for two years – however, I did start my basic kindergarden education there.

    By the time I was five and a half, we were getting ready to move back to Singapore. This was the first and only move I remember. I wasn't too shaken up by it, but I knew I would miss Texas. My mother preferred Singapore to the USA any day, so her positive words made me more excited to move back "home." I've been living here ever since then.

    I love Singapore as a country, I know I have to, not really remembering living in any other location…but I honestly think that this a good place to live. I love the city life. When I went to the states a few years ago to visit friends I would look around the suburbs and my first question was "so…where are all the buildings, you know…the malls?" I know that question makes me sound ignorant but this life was so different compared to mine. I love the city life because I've honestly never been truly exposed to much else. I lived in Austin, Texas, and when I go back to India (every summer) I still visit the big cities.

    However something I dislike about living specifically in Singapore is that there isn't much to do…I go out with my friends every weekend, but there are only so many movies you can watch and so many shops you can visit. I also don't like how when I visit India over the summer everybody treats me like an outsider. Despite being Indian I'm an "American girl" because of my accent, my attitude and my personality. I've never lived in India or done school there so when I tell my cousins about SAS their first comments are "you have tennis courts? and dance studios?!" I would be as taken aback replying with "…you don't?"

    I know that I have a privileged life abroad, but I know that in India my cousins have an equally privileged life – yet my privileges seem so much more superior to theirs all of a sudden.

    Unlike most people in SAS, my dad isn't an expect in Singapore. He's vice president of the ASEAN (South East Asia) region of the software company Citrix. My mother got her first job here when I was two years old, which she still works for – even while we lived in the States. She runs the database for an event managing company relating to oil and gas.

    If I had a choice I would definitely live overseas. Maybe it's because Singapore is the place I call home? Maybe it's because I've lived here all my rememberable life? Maybe it's because I'm aware of the privileges I have compared to the kids my age who study in my birth country of India? Either way – I love living here and even though I'm an overseas-raised child, I feel like this is my home, the place I belong. In fact, I know that the first move that will make a huge impact on my life is graduation….leaving home for an overseas country…scary, right? 😉

  20. Caroline B says:

    Hey Mr. Hallam!

    I was born in Orlando Florida, 16 years ago. Orlando is known for their large Disney Empire and Universal Theme park, which my dad happened to be a part of. He was (and currently still is) Director of operations at multiple Universal Studios. After living in Florida for a few years, my family moved to Burbank, California. After six months my dad got offered a job half way across the world in Japan. He decided that this would be an amazing opportunity for his family, and we moved in December 1999. Living in Japan offered my sister and I the opportunity to meet people from all over the country, and travel to amazing countries. After living in Japan we moved to Santa Cruz, California, and stayed there for five years. After moving there I never thought I would be lucky enough to live abroad again, but going into my freshman year at Santa Cruz High, my dad was offered a job in Singapore. He of course took it, as it sounded like an amazing opportunity. I have lived in Singapore for the last three years and I've loved it. At first it was kind of a culture shock but it was easy to adapt because mostly everyone spoke english and were extremely friendly. If I had the choice to go back and live in the U.S for my entire life, I would definitely not choose it. While living abroad I have experienced so many things that I would never have gotten to do if i had lived in the states for my whole life.

  21. Jade Fogle says:

    I personally, would rather have all my schooling overseas versus in the States. I've spent all sixteen years of my existance in Asia, thirteen in Hong Kong and three in Singapore, and think I have had a better upbringing than most by doing so. I believe that if I had grown up in Chicago, where I was born, I wouldn't have had the same opportunities that have shaped the person I am today. Living abroad has exposed me to different cultures, ethnicities, foods, religions and ways of thinking which has helped me realize my own beliefs. I also like that the rest of Asia is very accessible from Singapore making vacations much more interesting as there is always somewhere to visit. That being said, I am not completely foreign to the lifestyle of America. I've spent enough time there to experience what living there is like and the only thing I miss everytime I return home is probably the atmosphere and shopping as things in the States are less expensive and communicating is, of course, much easier. I think having a living experience in Asia has broadened my knowledge of the world and helped me develop more as a person. I wouldn't change a thing.

  22. sebastian carral says:

    hello Mr. Hallam

    I'm 17 years old, my parents have had many different jobs. Some of them have to do with the government and other jobs are just their own business. In a certainty way I have lived 6 years in Singapore, but during different periods of time. I lived here when i was 10 years of age, and then left, now am back. What I like about Singapore and living in a somewhere that is not your home country, is that you get to meet so many people. All the experiences i have had living overseas is such a cool idea. other things that i dont like so much are that you miss the people that are closes to you, but that is not such a big deal because in no time you have new friends. I was born and raised in mexico, which i could say is one of the places i most love. I have only lived in mexico and y Singapore. I would never reset anything in my life, I dont really regret any thing at all.

  23. Julian Byrns says:

    I'm a senior, 17 years old, in Singapore American School and arrived upon this site via the teacher that just wrote this. I have lived in Singapore for 5 years and I can say that I have grown to like Singapore, a small island with easy access to anywhere, a place I can stay out practically the whole night and not have any fear of people, and a place I now call home. Before I came out to the small island I used to live in San Mateo, California and went to school in the state all the way up to seventh grade, but when asked whether or not I could hit a reset button and stay in California for the years I've missed there and spent in Singapore I would immediately reject the idea and continue on with the life I have now. Whats the point of living if you never go out of your comfort zone? After leaving my home and visiting a place that spoke a different language, had new types of food, and access to places I would have never seen while I lived in the States (Malaysia, Cambodia, China, Australia). After all that can I say "I have truly lived."

  24. Kais says:

    Hey Andrew,

    I was born in Texas but was exposed to different countries before reaching the age of 1. I've lived in 3 different countries: Myanmar, USA, and Singapore. I did go to school in Texas but not until the 4th grade. Before I was schooling in Yangon, Myanmar. After the 7th grade I moved to Singapore and started schooling at the Singapore American School in 8th grade. The reason for my move was because of my dad's business. He has his own business located in Yangon, Myanmar and a partnered business in Singapore with an old friend. At first i was hating everything about living back in South East Asia but as time went by i started liking Singapore more than the U.S. Now looking back, and if i were given the opportunity to go back and alter anything, I wouldn't change anything. Reason is because of all of this that has happened, I'm now exposed to the world and I can go back to the USA and share my experiences to others that didn't have the opportunity. I'm now 17 and I have 1 more year to go til' i have to go back and if i could I wouldn't, because I can have more exotic experiences than I would in the U.S.

  25. Allen Tsai says:

    Throughout my life i have traveled the world, most of the time just as family trips but a lot of times moving away to a different country. Before 7th grade at SAS, i had never stayed at a school for more than 2 years. At the moment, I am 16 years old and it is my 5th year in Singapore again. Even though I am American, I was actually born in Singapore and lived here the first 6 years of my life as my family moved from Texas a couple years before i was born. I have lived in 3 countries so far, Singapore, the US(Palo Alto and LA), and Wales. Being exposed to different cultures throughout my life has been a great experience, I got to learn new languages and befriend all types of people. Even though all places have their flaws, such as Wales' food and weather, the largeness of the US, and the smallness of Singapore, they have all been fun and rewarded experiences. Moving constantly does have its flaws though, having to make new friends every year or two before i came back to Singapore was fun but hard at the same time. Most of this moving is caused by my dad's constantly changing jobs. He likes to learn new things and have different experiences so has has about as many jobs as I had schools in my 16 years. If i could choose to do all this again, I would defiantly choose to at least some of my schooling overseas to be able to experience different cultures and people.

  26. Sarah C. says:

    In December of 2008 my dads job moved my family and I to Taiwan. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. My parents, younger brother, and I stayed in Taiwan for about 6 months. Then on our first summer vacation back to the U.S., we got a call from my dad(who stayed in Taiwan to work). He told us on Saturday that we had to be out of our apartment and leaving Taiwan by the following Thursday. We flew 11 hours from California back to Taiwan, packed everything up and moved to Singapore. The first time that we ever even seen Singapore was when we landed. The steering wheel was on the other side of the car, all the locals spoke 'Singlish', and we had no idea what was going to happen. We went looking for the american school in Singapore. Our first choice was Singapore American School, obviously because we are American.We filled out the applications and took the tour of the school. It was after my younger brother and I got our hopes up that we were told that it was unlikely that we were going to get in. So the next day we went to go see another school that wasn't as big and fancy as SAS but it was more likely that we were going to get in. While on tour at the other school, we got a call from my dad, saying that we got in to SAS. We thought he was joking. But Were here now, been here for a little over a year. It is a great experience, but its not easy at all. I miss my family every day. But they visit and the good out weighs the bad by alot. I would never trade this experience to live in the U.S.. Even though I have friends and family there, I like living on this tiny humid island in Asia.

  27. kevin kim says:

    I have been living in Singapore for almost 2 years by now.

    Before singapore I've been to korea, U.S.A, panama. So that would be 4 countries

    I was born in New Jersey and stayed there about 2 years. So i would say i dont remember any experiences in my birth country.

    The country i consider home would be Korea beacuse i've stayed there half of my life.

    The reason i was moving from place to place is because of my father's job. He works in Samsung. The things i like about living overseas is that i get to meet many people from different countries. i like to talk about intersting things in other countries. And actually i dont have any dislikes living overseas. Well if there is one tough thing living overseas is that you have to adjust to the language around you (my mother tongue was korean).

    If i have control over my destiny, i wouldnt change a thing. the experiences i had living all around the world is special and i think that is the thing that defines me.

  28. @Sriram


    It sounds like you've had some interesting experiences. Were you born in Canada? It makes sense what you say about wanting to stay somewhere for a while. It would be tough to make friends and establish connections if you're always wandering around. You read Catcher in the Rye, right? The fact that Holden kept getting kicked out of schools (forcing him to move from place to place) might have contributed to his troubles. Your thoughts?

  29. @Kevin@InvestItWisely

    Hey Kevin,

    These comments are pretty interesting. True, the base of kids might not represent a broad expat spectrum, but it's going to be interesting to discuss their views.

    Were you "adventurious" before going to Korea, or did you become more adventurous after that?

  30. @Jerone Abueva


    You made some interesting reflections here. You haven't moved around a lot (by expat standards) but you wish that you had moved around more.

    What places would you like to experience?

  31. @kevin kim

    Hey Kevin,

    Many people in North America think of Samsung as solely an electronics company. Does that amuse/surprise you? As Kevin is fully aware, Samsung is predominantly a construction company doing electronics "on the side"–right Kevin?

    Reading what you have to say makes me wonder if this kind of living "gets into the blood". You became a "traveller" of sorts at a very young age. I wonder if someone who arrives here at, say, age 15 (from their birth-country) would feel the same way.

  32. @Han Qiang

    Han Qiang,

    Many people in North America would assume that this school was filled with Singaporean kids. But you're one of the rare exceptions. Readers, most of the local students who want to go to this school aren't admitted–they're encouraged to go to local schools.

    Han Qiang outlines some differences between the local system in Singapore, and the American school system that he is experiencing here.

    Thanks for doing that Han Qiang.

    And I'm glad you're here with us!

  33. @KDas


    It sounds like you have "roots" in two distinct places: India and Singapore. I guess that helps. If you had lived in India until you were 14, and then came here, do you think things would be different?

  34. @Jeeth S

    Hey Jeeth,

    After reading what you said, I had an interesting question:

    Do you think your family's view on overseas life affected you? Do you view it with an open mind, thanks to their influence on you as a child?

    If a parent has to re-locate (and they're kicking at screaming about it) I wonder how that affects their children's experience. It must have happened to somebody, right?

  35. @Sneha Easwaran

    Hey Sneha, here's a question.

    You took American Literature or American Studies last year, right? In your view, does the average American (or Canadian) grow up in a diverse culture too?

    Or is their culture less diverse?

  36. @Nicole Hussey

    Hey Nicole,

    Your response, in some ways, answers the question that I posed to Sneha. I don't know whether Sneha will agree or not, but this is what I think you're saying:

    Because you learn with kids from all over the world, you're living multi-culturally, even while doing all of your schooling here. I was thinking of the city of Singapore as the "multi-cultural" component. But you shed light on the fact that the school may be more multi-cultural than the city itself.

    Readers, with 4 national languages, Singapore itself is also incredibly diverse.

    I believe that Nicole's mom was formerly "Miss Singapore". Is that right Nicole?

  37. @Rachel Khan

    Wow–every one of your siblings is at a different school Rachel. Talk about family diversity. Readers, each of those schools is very different—there's an American representation (where Rachel goes to school) a Chinese representation and a British representation. Is that right Rachel?

  38. @Sanjna Malik


    Your response is going to fascinate many people.

    I do hear many kids suggesting that there aren't many things to do here. In some respects, I agree. I'd love to climb a real mountain here, and cycle on my bike for hours on a country road, but of course, I can't do either.

    That said, I hardly ever go downtown. Shopping malls make me really claustrophobic. I spend a lot of time in the jungle (40% of Singapore is undeveloped). Last week I was running home from school (on a jungle path) and I saw about a dozen wild boars bunched together as I rounded a corner. (Thankfully, they didn't want to eat me!)

    But it's interesting. So many of the locals only see Singapore as a concrete jungle. They get so conditioned to just "shop" and drive around in their cars.

    I was at the zoo last year, and I was at a snake exhibition. I told the woman giving the presentation that I have seen many reticulated pythons in the jungle here—and cobras! She had no idea that they were even still here.

    Urbanization, in many ways, has numbed too many of the locals. And there may be more to do and see than meets the eye.

    The next time your friends ask, "What shall we do?" See if you can rent a kayak and check out the monitor lizards or crocs (?!) in the mangrove. OK, on second thought, forget about that. I want you coming back next week.

  39. @Caroline B

    Hey Caroline,

    This is interesting. You said, " After moving there I never thought I would be lucky enough to live abroad again"

    You obviously had an amazing experience, and I'm glad to hear that you're still enjoying the overseas life.

    I'll tell you something about me now: Do you know those little kiddie rides at theme parks. OK, because of your dad's job, I imagine you've been on every hairy scary ride there is. But for me? The kiddie rides freak me out. Never mind the adult rides!

    And the odd, sloppy cab driver makes me feel the same way. I have nearly said, "Stop the ride!!" when I'm at a theme park—but I've held off.

    But I have said, "Stop the cab" and climbed out, thankful to be alive.

  40. @Jade Fogle


    You said something that will interest a lot of people. You've been in SE Asia your entire life, but when you go to the U.S., you refer to that as "home". Why do you think that is?

  41. @sebastian carral


    It sounds like you have a great attitude. You're really adaptable, and obviously taking the very best out of every experience you have.

    If you could stay here or move back to Mexico, what would you do? Assume that you can make that decision tomorrow. Would you stay or would you go?

  42. @Julian Byrns

    Hey Julian,

    You have shed light on something many North American people would never have thought of: I'd be willing to wager that this city of 4 million is safer than the average Canadian town of 20,000. And Canada has a safe reputation.

    You said this: "I can stay out practically the whole night and not have any fear of people"

    Readers, I doubt Julian's parents would want him staying out all night, but he has a point. We live in a city where 13 year olds can take cab-rides with their friends into the heart of downtown on a Friday night, to go to a movie, and few parents bat an eye. Do they care? Sure they do. They just know that this is a safe city. There are far safer places to live than Canada and the U.S.—and Singapore is just one of those places.

    Some expat parents I speak to suggest that they're glad they got their kids out of Canada. I'm not suggesting that I agree with them, but it's interesting to see such a contrary view of what we'd expect, as North Americans (incidentally, I think it's the risk of drugs they're concerned about–which are far more prolific in NA).

  43. @Kais

    Hey Kais, when did you start calling me "Andrew"?

    Readers, I taught Kais last year—hence the familiarity.

    You truly are a child of two worlds Kais–yet you prefer the overseas experience.

    But here's a question: Could there be greater attributes to living solely in the U.S. that you haven't thought of? If you were in the U.S. right now, you would probably be driving a car, for example. When I was your age, I lived in Canada, where I had my own car and could take a girl to the movies. But you have to do that on a bus. Or with a cab. Thoughts on that? I remember loving the independence of a car.

  44. @Allen Tsai


    I enjoy your "voice" here–some of your personality comes through in your writing, and I like that. I laughed when I read about "Food in Wales". What didn't you like about it?

  45. Rahul Kaul says:

    I am From New York I have lived in Japan, Holland and Singapore. I am 14 and no I like my international education as it has given me a new way to look at the world from both sides from the better off people to the people who need help getting their homes built it has taught me something I would not have gotten in the USA

  46. Farees Choudhury1502 says:

    I was born in Singapore, I've lived in Singapore, I'm 14, I would do my schooling in other countries because after a few years it gets kind of boring and your friends start moving to other countries too. and i would also do it in other countries because it would be great experiences to study in other countries because i was born in singapore and SAS is the only school ive gone too…for about 12 years. So its kinda of boring now!!!!!!!!

  47. Alexandra Oravetz says:

    I was born in Grapevine, Dallas Texas, and lived there for one year, then moved to Norway until i was three, where i lived in Jakarta, Indonesia for a decade. Now i've been living in Singapore for a year, and am now a 14 year old (but in a couple of months- 15 year old) freshman. I really love having been living overseas pretty much my whole life, but i wouldn't mind going to college around my birthplace, or somewhere in the U.S. I certainly would be a very different person if i had lived in Texas all these years, i wouldn't be exposed to many different cultures, and used to diversity. I would feel less unique (as i am blonde, and here in Asia, i stand out more). Also, this has helped me be more understanding of people of many different religions, people that eat different foods, and people are just plain different from me in every way. This way, i don't expect anyone to be exactly like me, because I know just how many different people are out there.

    In the future, I would definitely see to it that i live in Asia again as an adult, and if kids are in my future, i would love to expose them to the life of an overseas international school, such as SAS.

  48. Garret says:

    im now a freshman in high school and am 14 years old. I am currently livinging in Singapore. I have lived here for seven years but i was born in California. I enjoy singapore a lot because we kids have a lot more freedom because the crime rate here is very low. I dont kno much of what it was like to be schooled in the US because I only went to school there when I was younger so I wouldn't be able to compare it to here

  49. Olivia says:

    I have been in Singapore for less then 20 days. I have never lived abroad, but now I see how influential it is to a person's life. You can visit a country all you want, I should know I travel all over the world with my family, but you never really see a city until you live there. It doesn't have to be your home but living somewhere, staying there for extended period, is amazing.

    Even if you miss people, places and important dates, that is all a small price to pay for see everything else in a new light. There has to be something to say about knowing where your home is, it is a kind of feeling that makes everything feel right, but going away form there is also interesting. I don't think I could ever permanently up root myself or my family but to go and come back is a great opportunity.

    Again there are drawbacks to that too. All the new friends a person makes, all the things you get use to in your new home, but I think that I will want to go back. But maybe come back to Singapore again. It is such a hard question to answer and then commit to that I think it is different to every person and family. But I think that taking my family over seas is something I want to do.

    One thing that I think makes it easer, on the kid, is having input. I did. My parents didn't just come home one day and say "We're leaving for Singapore!" but instead I knew about the prospect and the decisions made along the way. I had some choice in where we went and some in the year we went.

    My name is Olivia.

    I am in 9th grade (14).

    My home is Seattle, Washington.

    That is the only place I have ever lived, not including my birthplace.

    This was my take on living abroad.

  50. Ryka S says:

    I am 13 years old and have lived overseas for 10. Part of living overseas is exciting. Being able to tell people you were born in Hong Kong, go to school in Singapore, is a pretty good conversation starter. When I lived in the US, I constantly was asked about how I found living outside of the country most of my family lives in. I do feel that it is an advantage for a student to spend time in more than one country. It gives you a different level of appreciation for another culture. It also helps to eliminate ignorance and makes you interested. Especially in a place like Singapore where the world is literally at your fingertips. So personally, I prefer schooling in more than just your home country.

  51. Mikal K says:

    I'm now in 9th grade in Singapore. I've been here my whole life except for 3 years in London. I definitely call Singapore home. I've never felt so safe at 3am in the middle of no where but in Singapore i do. When i was 10 i could walk freely on orchard road and be safe.

  52. DJ Villamin says:

    I'm 14 years old and I've been living in Singapore for ten years and I don't really miss home, because Singapore has been my one place that I've lived in for most of my life. Before I moved to Singapore, I was moving back and forth from Hong Kong and the Philippines, where I was originally born. It's been really hard for me watching my friends move on to new schools but for some reason, new ones always seemed to replace them. I call Singapore home, but in everyday conversation, the Philippines is where I'm from. I've never actually went to school in the Philippines so I would prefer schooling here in Singapore. But if I were to go back to the Philippines, I'd be tough due to the fact that since the Philippines isn't a first world country, the schools cant afford thier own school buses like we can in the Singapore American School, so commuting to school would be a hassle every morning, waking up at 6:00 am for school that's 2 kilometers away that starts at 8:30 am. The reason we haven't moved is because my dad thinks Singapore is a good, safe environment to grow up in.

  53. Deepti Varathan says:

    There is a difference between moving and moving around excessively. If I had a good reason to move, I would move maybe twice or thrice during my children's entire schooling- but no more. There is a difference between being multi cultured, and being a person who can't call anywhere 'home' because they never stay long enough. THAT I would not do to my children.

    Birthplace: Summit, New Jersey

    Places I've lived in: New Jersey and Singapore

    Age: 14

    I would prefer doing schooling here and in my birth country. I feel like there's a lot more opportunities here. When I was told I was moving I actually wasn't that sad because I didn't really like my school back in the States

  54. vanessa mcconville says:

    hello, im 14 years old and its my 3rd year in singapore. Im in 9th grade before this i lived in Houston, Texas for my whole life. I was born in London, Ontario though! I'm glad i go to be exposed to the cultures of asia. Moving to singapore was hard at first. Everyone kinda already has groups and its tough to be new and have to trust new people. especially since i was with the same group of 400 kids for basically my whole life! But by the first 2 weeks I found friends! Another thing that has been hard is having your friends constantly switching out. one year your best friends with someone and then they move away and someone new comes in. I have to say though that moving to singapore is the best thing that ever happened to me. I was so blind to the world when I lived in Texas. Now that I live here im actually aware of what is going on. Its also really cool to travel to places like Thailand and Cambodia. If I lived in Texas I would never even think of going there. Basically, Im dreading the day I have to move back!

  55. Jimmy Shin says:

    Hi Mr. Hallam!

    I'm a 15 year old born in Korea, and have lived there till I became ten. Then I moved to Singapore. I can see why the 'Third culture kids' would struggle with their home identity. But that is not a problem with me. Since I've lived 10 years of my life in Korea, and because both my parents are Korean, I know in my heart and in my brains that my home is in Korea. Because I don't have the home identity confusion, I would agree with schooling outside of my country. I've been to school in my home country and Singapore both, and I can say that I'm feeling that I have more opportunities open to me here outside. By opportunities, I'm not restricting it to just school wise. After I arrived in Singapore, I have taken interest in a lot of things and have done things I never imagined back in Korea. It might've been that I was too young to think of various things back then, but I'm going to stick with outside-international schooling a more positive choice.

  56. Tanya Bhalla says:


    I understand how some parents would find this a little unfair, or not right, but honestly as a fourteen year old I would say that we kids aren't missing anything from being introduced to other cultures besides our own.

    I have lived in Singapore all my life but i was born in New Delhi, just because my parents were living there at that time. We left for Singapore before I even turned one years old, and now i'm 14, still living in the same place.

    So, I would rather not do my schooling in my birth country because going to an international school definitely has great benefits such as being exposed to such unique culture all around us. It really let's us open our eyes to the world, which we wouldn't necisarly recieve if we stayed to study in our birthplace.

    I even have a friend from my old school who lives with a guardian because her mother lives in Korea and wants her daughter to get a complete and international experience of school so she's lived by herself in England, and now Singapore. So i think it's a good idea to get kids used to the idea of living internationally among other races and in different countries, expecially if the benefits include great schools.

  57. Melina Paulli says:

    I was born in Fairfield, Connecticut and went to a public school until second grade. I'm 14 and a freshman and started school here in third grade. I like living overseas because just the fact that I moved to Singapore gives me the advantage of knowing certain things that people my age still wouldn't know. For example, in second grade I learned that there was a country called Singapore in Asia, some people I have met thought that the only country in Asia was China. My mom paints and sometimes has exhibitions where she sells her art and my dad works for ST Shipping. I wouldn't change my destiny if I could because I really like living overseas and going to places that a lot of people in the states can't go to, and learning about other cultures.

  58. Raymond Bryars says:

    I'm only 13 but I started school earlier than most kids in my age level which is why I'm in 9th grade instead of 8th. My birthday is coming soon though so that's good. I was born in Singapore so many people always ask me why I'm in an international school instead of a public school. Well my mom is Singaporean and my dad is American so I lived a lot of my life in the United States. If I came back here it would be hard for me to get used to public school. Considering I'm also American it would be easier for me to be in SAS and that's why I'm in Singapore American School now. If I had to choose between an international school in or America, well lets hope I don't have to answer such a question.

  59. Brenda Farias says:

    Im 14 and was born in California. I've lived in California until i was 2 then moved to Portland, Oregon. I moved to Singapore when I was 11. My family moved here because of my dad's job; he's an engineer. I Wouldn't have preferred to go to school in America all my life. I think moving to SAS is a great exerpience for me, I think it will help me get into a good collage. This schoo gives me alot of great opportunities.

  60. @Sarah C.

    Hey Sarah,

    It's great to hear that you had such a positive experience with the uprooting process. You didn't really have a say in what you were going to do, so were you initially upset that you had to move from the U.S.? If so, how long did it take before you said, "Hey, this overseas gig is OK"?

  61. @Rahul Kaul

    Hey Rahul,

    It sounds like your overseas move has made you more wordly–and given you a perspective you wouldn't normally have. Were you ever "kicking and shouting" about an overseas move: not really wanting to go?

  62. @Mikal K

    Hey Mikal,

    I'm pretty sure you weren't walking down Orchard Road at 3am when you were 10. Or were you?

    You might just be having fun with the idea—but I entirely agree with you. This is probably the safest city in the world.

  63. @DJ Villamin

    Hey DJ,

    I wonder if growing up in the Phillippines would be more of an adventure than growing up in Singapore. You haven't experienced it, but not having the conveniences you have here, but having some crazy crazy stories that replace those conveniences might actually be worth it in the end. Maybe life is well-lived when it's one big adventure. What do you think?

  64. @Deepti Varathan


    Perhaps you've hit the nail on the head. Perhaps most people need to feel rooted in some way–and that excessive moving prevents that. But I suppose people can establish lasting relationships in a place, even if they've only been there for a few years. How much moving do you think is too excessive?

  65. Wow – look at all the testimonials!!!! Great post Andrew. Quite enjoyable to read all the comments and people's perspectives.

    Maybe a few of them, with your guidance, should complete a guest post on your blog?


  66. @Financial Cents

    That would be really interesting Mark: a great writing activity.

    I think I'll be focussing on the financial/social aspects of adults (their parents!) living overseas next.

    Now that could be an interesting guest blog idea too. Perhaps I won't have to write it or interview anyone!



  67. @vanessa mcconville


    Wow! You mentioned that you were "blind to the world" before moving overseas. Because the U.S. is such a huge and powerful country, I've found that many of its citizens are unaware of what goes on outside their borders. That's not to "slam" them. It's just circumstantial. I think any massive group of people living in a place that's deemed the most powerful and influential on earth would be similar.

    Hmmm. That makes me wonder. Was England like that 200 years ago. Perhaps!

  68. @Jimmy Shin

    Hey Jimmy,

    I guess mastering English also opens so many doors for you. As for the other things you've experienced, I wonder if you would have experienced other amazing things in Korea, if you had stayed. Perhaps just different things—and not necessarily things that are "better" or "worse"

  69. @Tanya Bhalla

    Hey Tanya,

    If you hadn't moved to Singapore, I wonder what an international school experience in India would have been like. It would have been a lot like SAS, until you stepped beyond the gates. I have friends who have taught there, and they rave about it. Do you think you would like it as much in India? More? Less? What are your thoughts on that?

  70. @Melina Paulli

    Hey Melina,

    Do you still have friends and family in the U.S.? Do you visit them? If you visit them, what do they think of your stories/school experiences?

  71. @Raymond Bryars

    Hey Raymond,

    It sounds like you love the U.S. and Singapore. You mentioned that it would be tough to choose between one or the other. Would you like to split your remaining years? For example, would you do Grade 10 in the U.S., come back to Singapore for grade 11, and then go back to the U.S. to graduate?

  72. @Brenda Farias

    Hey Brenda,

    Well, I'm pretty surprised that every student (from the two classes I taught today) suggested the same thing: that you prefer living overseas to living in the U.S.

    Even the students who have recently arrived are saying the same thing.

    Based on questions I've asked kids over the years, I knew how most kids feel about the cultural experiences and opportunities overseas, but I didn't expect two full classes to articulate the same idea.

    Do you ever go back to Portland? I think Oregon is my favorite U.S. state. If I ended up in the U.S., I might choose a city like Portland, or a smaller city like Eugene. I love the bike riding around Eugene, and the place is really active.

  73. Good god Andrew, what happened to this thread! Amazing list of responses… I'm gonna have to take my lunch hour just to read over all of them! 😉

  74. <blockquote cite="#commentbody-893">

    Andrew Hallam :


    Hey Kevin,

    These comments are pretty interesting. True, the base of kids might not represent a broad expat spectrum, but it’s going to be interesting to discuss their views.

    Were you “adventurious” before going to Korea, or did you become more adventurous after that?

    Hey Andrew,

    You can say that my experience in Korea definitely whet my appetite! I would highly recommend it for anyone; my views on things were definitely broadened by that trip, and my life was enriched by the experience. I actually had reverse culture shock upon coming back!

    In contrast, my experiences of going to 8 different elementary and high schools (mostly in the same city, and almost one for every year) is something I would never, ever wish upon someone else. That kind of thing is extremely disruptive for a child, especially when you move in the middle of the school year.

  75. @Kevin@InvestItWisely

    Hey Kevin,

    I think moving around like you did, as a kid, would have been brutal. As you can see with the above comments, most of these kids get somewhat rooted in a place long enough to make friends. But I can imagine that, with your constant short-term pitstops as a kid, you'd even give up trying to make friends after a while. Did it eventually settle down, or were you shifted around until the 12th grade?

  76. @Andrew Hallam

    Hey Andrew,

    My longest stays were at the worst elementary school of the group, but the best high school. I did not stay anywhere more than about 3 years max, and some stays were less than a year. As a young kid, I used to do crazy stuff like explore construction sites on my own and boss kids in 2nd and 3rd grade around — when I was in 1st grade. A few years later, my personality flipped around 180, so it did have a profound effect on me.

    I agree, the difference between my own experience and that of your students is that they move around once or twice, stick around in a place long enough to make friends, and plus I imagine that with teachers like you around, these schools care. In my own experience in the public school system here, perhaps less than 1 out of 10 care, the last high school being somewhat of an exception as it was a rural school.

    Not something I'd ever put a kid through, myself!

  77. @Kevin@InvestItWisely

    Hey Kevin,

    I think there are loads of great teachers in public schools too, but it sounds like you had some bad luck.

    Having said that, poor teachers can be protected by public school unions back home.

    At a private school, such as the one I work at, if you're not "delivering", then you're gone. There's no union. Contracts run year to year. Dead wood doesn't get carried.

  78. Rahul Kaul says:

    @Andrew Hallam

    Yeah All of the moves were tough but they were great

  79. @Rahul Kaul

    It's great having you here with us Rahul! I think you're really going to enjoy the interim semester. Any ideas where you'd like to go?

  80. <blockquote cite="#commentbody-941">

    Andrew Hallam :


    Hey Kevin,

    I think there are loads of great teachers in public schools too, but it sounds like you had some bad luck.

    Having said that, poor teachers can be protected by public school unions back home.

    At a private school, such as the one I work at, if you’re not “delivering”, then you’re gone. There’s no union. Contracts run year to year. Dead wood doesn’t get carried.

    Yep, and some of the schools I had been to had been ranked close to the very bottom. In fact, one WAS ranked at the very bottom. In my experience, some teachers were helpful, while others were downright callous and obviously did not care whatsoever. Some teacher's "teaching" consisted of sitting at their desk and not much else.

    The last school I went to was the exception to the rule, though. There I can say that the caring teachers were more numerous than the non-caring, though there were still plenty of those, too. Maybe it was the greater sense of community from being in a more rural environment.

  81. Hey Kevin,

    The fact that you remember it all so clearly (and were so impacted by it) makes me realize, with further emphasis, how important good teachers are. Influences, long term, can go far further than we often think. Thanks for that!


  82. DIY Investor says:

    Amazing responses! I can't understand how these kids write better than many of my students in community college!

    One of the great things about blogs is that they are a sort of on going diary. Your students will get a great kick out of reading their responses when they turn 30.

    My children lived in one place growing up – Glenelg Maryland. Now my oldest lives in Alaska with his wife ( a young lady who can skin a moose – just to give you some perspective), my youngest daughter graduated as a pastry chef from the Culinary Institute in New York and is a chef in Melbourne and has spent a month with a friend who opened a restaurant in India, and my oldest daughter lives in D.C. but has travelled to many countries. They all enjoy different cultures although I have to say that we were worried about my youngest when she came back from India because we thought she might have malaria. I think it was the traveling that exhausted her!

    I wonder if your students are struck by the lack of understanding of other cultures on the part of American students. Many of my students have never seen real poverty, are wrapped up in their own little world, and take a lot for granted.

  83. TonioV says:

    Hey Mr. Hallam, I am Chilean. I left Chile when I was 11 years old, lived in the United States for about 4 years, and then moved to Singapore. I have lived here almost 2 years now, and I am currently 17(soon to be 18!!). What I like about living abroad is, well, of course, getting to see what another country is like. You get a much deeper feel for the place, the people and the culture, than with just a superficial visit as a tourist. I also like meeting the "locals". I'm really interested in how they live their lives, and I love seeing how different it is from mine, or others that I've experienced. In the end I guess I like living abroad for the same reason most people like traveling and seeing new places. Now, all of these things are advantages and opportunities that many could only wish to have, but there are also many things that I feel I am sacrificing by living abroad. While I’ve been out traveling around the world meeting new people, my friends in Chile (that I have known since the age of 4) have continued to strengthen their friendship. They have lived and experienced life together, while all the cool things I've experienced I have shared with no friends. By being abroad I also miss out on my family. I wasn’t there for when my brother had a son; I can't go to simple family reunions, birthday parties, holidays, etc. In the end, the more I travel, the more disconnected I feel from my own country, my home, and my family. Now, moving onto the fourth question. I have done 7 years of school in Chile, and almost 6 years in the U.S. and in Singapore under the American system. And to move on to the next question, my dad currently works for an American power company, but that was not the same company that took us to the U.S. in the first place.

    Finally, to answer the big question, the question that I ask myself almost every day. When I think about it, I look at both sides of the coin. I feel extremely lucky when I look at the life I've had. I feel very grateful for everything that I've experienced, seen, and lived through- it's something that not many people get to live. I have also grown a whole lot thanks to all the traveling I've done, and I’m sure I would not be the same person I am now if it wasn’t for that. And lastly, I've also made great friends where I have lived and it’s something that I don't think I would trade for anything. BUT…the other side is what I mentioned before. I don't get to be with all my family and those childhood friends. I have a constant feeling of nostalgia, a longing for home, because as time goes by, I become more disconnected from all those things that to me make "home", a home. In the end if I had that control over my destiny I would have stayed back in Chile. The reason I say this is because yes, although I have traveled a lot and made many friends along the way, I'm sure I would have been able to travel a good amount if we had stayed in Chile. What scares me is that in the future I will never be able to have that "home" again. Due to circumstances I will most likely settle in the U.S. or another country that is not Chile. This means that I will never be able to have lunch with my grandma one day, and the next go to my nephew's birthday party, and Friday night, after work, that same week, go have a beer with my friends. All those things will never be in the same place for me, and that is something that saddens me. That, is the one fact that in my case, makes studying abroad not worth the sacrifice me and my family have had to make. Now, don't get me wrong. I have enjoyed all the traveling, I am thankful for it, I've had a lot of fun and have met people that are very important to me, but this has only been the last 6 years of my short life. I'm scared that at one point all the moving around will become too much. I'm scared that at one point I will be tired of being away and will want to settle down, and will not be able to truly do so. I will see, I still have too much ahead to be certain of anything.

  84. <blockquote cite="#commentbody-956">

    Andrew Hallam :

    Hey Kevin,

    The fact that you remember it all so clearly (and were so impacted by it) makes me realize, with further emphasis, how important good teachers are. Influences, long term, can go far further than we often think. Thanks for that!


    You'd better believe it! Good teachers can give their students valuable lessons that live on for life. The fate of the world is in your hands, Andrew! 🙂

  85. @DIY Investor


    I'd like to meet your family at a reunion one of these days. I can tell that I'd really enjoy their diverse perspectives and stories. How about the skinning the moose part? Wow!

    One thing disconnecting our kids from those in the U.S. does tend to be the frustration they have when trying to discuss world affairs with friends back home in the U.S.

    I doubt they walk up to stateside friends and ask, "So, what do you think of the current situation in Afghanistan?" But they do come back at the end of each summer, a bit surprised at the provinciality of the average North American kid.

    As for blogging, you're right. This is going to be a permanent record of sorts–something that will likely never get lost: something these kids can look back on years from now.

    If my students are reading this, they'll sure be happy with your compliments, regarding their writing. Thanks for that.

    And Kevin,

    No pressure buddy. The fate of the world? Ha!

    I'll do my best though. The most important thing is mutual respect and love for people. If I can teach that, or enforce that, I'll be happy.


  86. @TonioV


    Thanks for your really thorough, introspective comment. It took me a few moments to realize who you were. But after reading everything, I figured it out. I am slower than you probably thought!

    Readers, Antonio was in my class last year as an English 11 student. The AMAZING thing about this guy is that he didn't speak English 6 years ago. He's one of those gifted people with languages. If you spoke to him, you'd think he was American. Antonio doesn't have a Spanish/Chilean accent at all. And he communicates very well in written English, as you can see.

    Antonio, I enjoyed hearing your perspective. I know that you're a "thinker", and it comes out in your written comment above.

    I'm going to assume that when you have children, you'll keep them in one place, but expose them to "travel" right?

    My parents did that with me. We didn't have a lot of money (my dad was a mechanic and there were 4 kids in the family) but my mom took a minimum wage job to scrape together enough money to send me on an educational trip, through a company called NewWorld Educational Cruises. I don't know whether it still exists or not.

    Anyway, I went to England, Greece, Egypt, Israel and Turkey as a 7th grader–spending one entire month away from my friends and family back in Canada.

    It might have been the best gift my parents could have given me. Robert, known as DIY investor, speaks of seeing poverty in his comment–implying, I think, that it's important for people to be exposed to that.

    Our tour bus hit an Egyptian boy crossing the street in Cairo—AND IT KEPT GOING!!!!!!

    It clipped him, and I never found out what happened. He was young, poor, and "didn't matter". I learned something that day that the world's best teachers could never get through to a bunch of stateside kids in a classroom.

    But Antonio, as a South American, you had opportunities to see that a lot—you didn't need to go far from home to experience it.

    Thanks for your insight.

  87. Wow… that reminds me of our little tour bus in Vietnam. There are just about no "highways" in Vietnam — the main roads go straight through little villages, with kids playing in the street and merchants with carts and all.

    Well, our tour bus didn't even slow down for any of these. He blasted through these villages at probably close to 100 km/h, and on the open road, it was about passing as many people as possible. I think we got into at least 2 or 3 near accidents… very glad he didn't hit anyone. That is shocking that the Cairo bus driver didn't even stop for that kid… but yes, that sort of thing is reality in some places.

  88. Tanya Bhalla says:

    @Andrew Hallam

    Hi Mr.Hallam,

    No, i doubt i would like it as much as SAS! Singapore is also a great place to live and i'm really happy here.

  89. Hey Tanya,

    If you're happy, then your life is "successful". There's no other criteria to measure success.

    I'm glad you're enjoying yourself! Rich people who are miserable are failures. Poor people who are happy (and have decent food, shelter and health) are successful.

    Wealthy people who are happy, healthy and wise…. Well, perhaps they have it all.

  90. TonioV says:

    @Andrew Hallam

    hahahaha, yeah, this is me. Yes, going with what DIY Investor said about poverty. I think it is extremely important for people like us(people who live in a very privileged part of the world) to see and get a feeling of poverty. It's basically getting to know what the majority of the world is like. And you're right Mr. Hallam. Living the majority of my life in South America poverty was something that to me was way more visible and real. I feel that it has helped me enjoy what I have now a whole lot more than if I had been born into this traveling, "expat" world. Also, like you said, if I ever decide to settle down in one place and have kids(haha, im still too young to be thinking about this stuff!) I will definately do all I can to give them the opportunity to travel as much as I have, that's my idea. I would rather stay in one place, but just how you were able to travel, Id give them that chance to see the world as well.

  91. I know you'd do a good job Antonio. And laugh all you want. It won't be long before you're looking back at your life and your family (with your own kids) and wondering: Where on earth did all the time go?

    I still remember high school like it was yesterday. Enjoy every moment.

  92. Kevin Kim says:

    @Andrew Hallam

    Hey Mr.Hallam

    Well I wouldn't be surprised about North America recognizing Samsung as an electronics company because thats what Samsung if famous for around the world. Some people even thought Samsung was a Japanese country !!

    If a student who is 15 years old came from his birth country, I would say it might be hard for that student. Being in a country for 15 years is a loooong time. Leaving his home and adjusting to a new country is definitely hard. Especially the language and the culture will be a barrier for that student. I myself lived in Korea for a long time before coming here, singapore. When i first got here it took me a while to get used to English even though i spoke it before.

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