Almost 13 years ago, my husband and I, as newlyweds, moved to Taiwan. It was hard for me. (That’s wording it quite casually!)
Looking back now, I see that those were the days! I just had no idea at the time. Youth truly is wasted on the young. We had a great group of friends. We were saving money, living very comfortably, and traveling! I never truly became comfortable living so far from home back then, and I think the friendships and anticipation of the next big adventure are part of what helped me to survive. Little did I know, a love of travel was being born. I thought after our first child was born in Taiwan, that I was ready to move home, start our “real” lives in Canada, and put all of these fun and carefree times behind us. Wrong!
It’s Hard to Go Home Again
After we moved home, we struggled. We were young, with our first child. And we had major decisions to make. So we did. We did everything that I thought I wanted us to do. We started putting down roots. But real life was not quite as rosy as I had been mentally building it up to be, when living in Taiwan. I started to get feelings and longings that I had never expected. Slowly, I realized that the travels and adventures hadn’t just helped me get through, but had shown me a different way. I understood now that there was so much to see and experience and taste outside of my own little bubble! And just maybe life was actually real, regardless of my geographic coordinates?
Long story short, in a whirlwind we were moving back to Taiwan. And this time it was so much harder! Those roots we had started putting down were deeper and stronger than the first time around. We had a house and cars to sell instead of an apartment lease to end. And we had two children now. Nine days before our flight across the world I ended up in the ER with severe chest pains, that turned out to be anxiety. Still, we somehow dealt with every last detail of our move, got on that plane and made it here!
Benefits of Living Overseas with Children
All of this to say, moving our family to the other side of the world was one of the most intense and stressful things I’ve ever done. But I soon realized, and know to this day, that it was so completely worth it. The one thing that makes me doubt our choice is watching my children wrestle with their emotions when saying good-bye to family. That’s a shot to the heart that brings on guilt like no other. But children are resilient and they all love their lives here.
And then there’s the really good stuff. We can afford for me not to work while the children are small and still enjoy a great lifestyle in a pretty amazing city. I love that my children eat curries, seafood, dumplings, “dan bing” and many other foods that I NEVER would have touched as a child. I love that they’re learning to read, write and speak Mandarin. And that the majority of their friends come from different backgrounds/cultures and speak a language other than English, as their first. My kids have seen and experienced so much more than I had at this age. I guess that’s pretty common even living in North America. But living (or traveling) overseas intensifies this trend.
Most of all, I’m thankful for the adventures. I love that we are in the heart of Asia. As a family, we can travel, explore, learn together and bond. It is a privilege to be here. And it’s one that I don’t take lightly. I am so, so thankful for all of this. I know making the decision to move overseas is hard, and the process of actually making it happen is even more trying. But if you’re given the opportunity, I say GO!! It won’t be easy, especially with kids, but it will be worth it…especially with kids! I promise.