Moving overseas: a not-so-lazy river

The water is pushing me forward. I’m keeping an eye on our two boys as they tumble and spin ahead of me. I can barely touch the floor of the swimming pool as we let ourselves drift down the ‘lazy river’. To me there is nothing lazy about it, the current is fairly strong. It gets me thinking about transitions and how sometimes, we feel like we are getting pushed about.

As the water carries me, I reflect on what happens when we have moved countries or gone into a new season in life.


There needs to be the right amount of control. Control to keep our heads out of the water, to keep an eye on how the kids are doing, to make sure our relationship as a couple is doing well and that we are not drifting apart as a family.

Letting go

There needs to be a measure of letting go. It would be exhausting to dig my heels in and fight against the current. Maybe I can enjoy the ride more, go with the flow. Even better, use the force of the change to my advantage and let it propel me to new and amazing discoveries about myself, our family and our new surroundings. I wonder what I need to let go of and also how we can have fun amidst the time of transition we are currently in.

Different reactions

We all react differently to change. As I look around me, my husband is way ahead of me, one of our sons is diving, and the other is clutching onto me. As we go through change as a family, we won’t react to it in the same way. Our reactions may not even be the same from one moment to the next. The parent responsible for settling the kids in and setting up the home tends to go through the stages of transition a bit later than the rest of the family as they make sure everyone is ok and settled in first.

A helpful book

The book, ‘Who moved my Cheese’ by Dr Spencer Johnson is a helpful tool when change has taken away something we valued.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Whether you are a seasoned global nomad or this is your first move out of your home country, there is absolutely no shame is asking for help.

Every so often, I reach out to hold onto our youngest son. He is a good swimmer but sometimes he needs a little boost. Very soon, he is going around on his own. In 2016, when we moved back to Switzerland from New York, I went through a really tough time. I had moved many times before and I thought there would be no problem. This was just one more move, right? Wrong! I was exhausted at having to start from scratch again. I had just hit ‘cruise control’ mode in New York after living there for two years and now it felt like I had to put all the work in again to settle the family into a new life. I asked friends to pray, I found a coach who could help me figure out how I was going to move forward in this new context, and a counsellor who was familiar with Third Culture Kids and global mobility. If you are struggling, I urge you to get help.

The International Therapist Directory ( is an online global listing of professional therapists, counsellors, psychologists, and psychiatrists interested in providing culturally sensitive cross-cultural treatment and care for today’s international expat community. Over 250 therapists in at least 40 countries are listed in the directory.

Join a community

There is nothing quite like having a conversation with someone who has gone through what you are going through. They nod as you speak, they insert stories of their own journeys, they give you hope that there is a life after the struggles. The website of Families in Global Transition is the first visit you need to make if you haven’t yet joined a community who understands.

Rest when you can

The river has grown still, the water no longer gurgling around me. It feels good as I can relax and enjoy. I’m going to make the most of this lull before the next bout of change.

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