My own contribution to being a road tester…..

As anyone who has been following this blog will know, I too am off on another expat journey very soon. When I started writing the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide, moving abroad again wasn’t actually a consideration. We thought we were done, settled in the UK for the foreseeable future. However, life happens and here we go again…

So during the last year of writing and editing the book, I started to pay a little bit more attention to what I – and my contributors – were saying. I started to realise that all this information was actually going to be really useful for myself and my family as well as for all my readers. And as we get closer to the time to leave, I have started taking sneaky peaks at some of the chapters – on taking children, in particular, as mine are such a different age and at such a different stage than they were last time.

I thought it would be fun to join my other road testers and chronicle my journey in the way that I hope they will be, one chapter at a time. So, here is my introduction and in a future post I will be discussing chapter one: Before You Go

First of all, could you tell me a bit about yourself, your family and your background?

I work from home in a part-time role managing a small independent journal called the International Journal of Birth and Parent Education, as well as spending quite a lot of my time marketing my book the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide. I have two children, both girls, aged seven and nine. We have previously lived as a family in Pakistan and St Lucia. Before that. I lived and worked all  over the world – including Jamaica, which is where I met my husband.

august 09 girls in the purple boat

Where do you live at the moment and where are you moving to? Why are you moving?

At the moment we live in a leafy town in the West of England. It’s a beautiful location full of Georgian architecture and green parks and not far from both the countryside and a couple of large cities. It’s almost ideal for us as our local school, an excellent state primary, is about three minutes walk from the house and we are surrounded by friends. We are moving to Pretoria in South Africa, where we hope we will also be surrounded by friends, as well as interesting wildlife! The girls will be attending the American International School so there’s a lot to get used to. We are moving with my husband’s job; he will be working at the British High Commission.

Have you ever been an expat before? If so, where and when? If not, do you know much about the “expat life”?

Yes I have been an expat on and off all my life – as a daughter, young adult, diplomat and as a mother and accompanying partner. So I have seen it from pretty much every angle. However, I think it is different every time you move and I am waiting to see what this particular relocation will throw up for us.

As an expat child in the Philippines

As an expat child in the Philippines

How prepared are you feeling for the move? As well as from the Survival Guide, where are you getting your information from?

I have been very lucky in that we were able to visit Pretoria late last year so have been to the school where the children will go and the house where we will live. I think this has helped us all prepare mentally for the move. I also have a couple of friends living there already and have made contact with a couple more online, who have been able to answer some of my obscure questions.

Why do you think the Survival Guide will be useful? Are there any chapters you think you will find particularly useful?

As my children are at a very different age than they were when we moved last time, I think the chapters which focus on them are particularly helpful. We’re also planning to get a dog when we are out there so I will be consulting my own advice on bringing a pet home with you when we leave!

How did you find out about my book?

Lol – I wrote it you numpty!

What are you most looking forward to about moving to your new country? What are you most worried about (if anything!)?

I am really, really looking forward to exploring both South Africa and the region. I love wildlife so the safari opportunities are just going to be amazing. I am also a big diver so can’t wait to get back under the water – one of my ambitions in life has been to see whale sharks in the wild so I am hoping to tick that one off my list.

South Africa is also a real foodies paradise so I can’t wait to get stuck into the local restaurants, farmers market’s etc. Oh and then there’s the wine…..

I am of course worried about the security situation. We will be well looked after and well protected but it does play on your mind, especially in the early hours of the morning…

Rhinos in a small safari park close to Pretoria

Rhinos in a small safari park close to Pretoria

How are your children feeling about the move? How did they react when you told them?

They really weren’t keen at first (you can read about their reaction in a post I wrote here) but have definitely come round now. Visiting Pretoria really helped, as has telling them we’ll get a dog. They still have their ups and downs but I think they’re generally pretty excited now.

I have a wide range of expats reading my blog – do you have any questions for them? Either country-specific or just general questions about moving and living abroad?

I suppose really whether people find it easier with each move or whether it’s just different each time, especially when the children are so different. Also, four years is a long time in the world of technology – I wonder how this has changed expat life?

And country-specific, please let me know if you have any tips for secret spots in South Africa – anywhere you think we should definitely visit?

Don’t forget you can also read about my real road-testers Lynsay,  Nichole  and Erin.

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7 thoughts on “My own contribution to being a road tester…..

  1. What an exciting place to take your family Clara. My husband and I visited South Africa in 2006 and our safari trip is one of my very favourite life experiences. We also stayed in Capetown and had a lovely drive down to the Cape of Good Hope. Beautiful scenery and well worth it. x

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  2. Hi Clara – just wondering why you chose American schooling for the girls? I’ve had a quick look and can’t see much choice for British curriculum schooling – am I missing something?

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    • Hi Sarah

      There isn’t a lot of choice if they are aged around the age of our two -now 9 and 11. There is a school that is ok for younger children and another for older ones. Unfortunately there is not a “British school” as you get in other posts. Do email me if you have any questions about AISJ.

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      • Thanks Clara.

        We have a 10 year old boy currently in Year 6, that’s UK Y6. A posting will mean he returns to the UK at the start of Y10 to commence GCSE’s – I understand there’s a move to start teaching GCSE’s in Y9, but that’s a complication too far for now!

        We are considering AISJ as the two schools we’ve looked at online haven’t really inspired us, so your thoughts on AISJ would be much appreciated – warts n’ all – we know no school is perfect, although some come pretty darn close!

        Sarah

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