The Value of A Child Living Abroad


As avid travelers, my husband and are on another adventure. We are in Europe, and I am writing this post as I am being driven through the Vienna Forest in Austria. I begin to daydream about our worldwide travels and my thoughts branch out to our traveling grandchildren living and traveling abroad.

  • Joe Good is studying at Haifa University for a year.
  • Rob and Yael are leaving for Israel for five weeks and then onto Europe.
  • Samantha is living in Jerusalem.
  • Our other Samantha Good (age 16) is an exchange student studying in Beijing, China for one year.

I am in constant touch with them through emails and I find my staying in touch very valuable for us. Grandmother and grandchildren are pen pals. Having a grandmother who has traveled to their destinations creates an ongoing dialogue that is interesting from a different prospective. Thank goodness for emails and texts.

I thought my readers of all ages might enjoy reading my 16 year-old’s adventure away from family and country as she describes her new family, school and personal feelings about China. I was in awe of her ability to adapt so quickly and happily and wanted to share my granddaughter’s feelings with you.

Hello Honey, My life here in China is great. I live with a host family on the second ring of Beijing, on the 14th floor of an apartment complex. I have a sister, Catherine, and her birthday was today! She turned 13 and I got her an English book because she likes to study English. My parents here are very nice, although they don't speak very much English.

I go to ErGuZhong, which in English roughly translates to mean the second high school attached to Beijing Normal University. I take the bus to school every weekday and I normally get to school at around 7 am. Classes start at 8am and we have three hours of Chinese every morning. Then we have a ten-minute break, then history. We have an hour for lunch break and we are encouraged to leave campus and dine in the little restaurants around school so we can practice our Chinese. After lunch we have English and science, then various activities. Every Wednesday, we only have Chinese class, then we go on a field trip somewhere around Beijing! It's really nice to have a break in the middle of every week because I find school here in China much more difficult than American schools. I've joined the soccer team, take water-color classes, do robotics, ping pong, and dance here, so I'm generally pretty busy which is great!

Over the past month I've become incredibly comfortable in China, to the point where it doesn't really feel like a foreign country at all anymore. The public transportation in Beijing is amazing, and it's so easy to get everywhere. I know no matter where I am in the city, I can always find the nearest subway and get home safely.

I hope you're having fun in Europe! Samantha

Sam’s experience in China will undoubtedly change the course of her life -- for the best! As her grandmother I am living vicariously through her. I wish I had been able to live abroad while growing up but on the other hand, seeing what I have seen at an older age has wonderful benefits as well.