Globiana Members Speak: Finding Home

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In my adult life I have moved houses eleven times. It may not seem outrageous but counting the 12+2 years spent in our current home, we did move a lot from the ones that did not last more than two years. What is interesting is what made me move and how I found my new home each time. I believe there is a sweet balance between over-planning and following your gut when choosing a city, a neighborhood, a house. 

Here are my most memorable moving decisions to share. It started with being able to afford a really posh but small place on the 42nd floor overlooking Lake Ontario in downtown Toronto as newlyweds. There was not enough space for our clothes and our combined households, let alone an office. I learned to improvise: the small balcony became our summer dining room, the furniture had to be light and was constantly moved to accommodate office work, dinner parties and other projects. I never minded because the walls of window overlooking the lake and the city were my mansion.

It also taught me that I am not a city person. No matter how convenient the location, I prefer my privacy to not be shared with a 24-hour security guard.

Fast-forward to living with a toddler in crazy expensive California. Before relocating here to temporary housing, I had one day in-between work meetings to explore the Bay Area. We had learned that San Francisco was too cold for our taste, so we had to start our search from scratch.

I put our son in the car and drove south, planning to explore the beach and not worry about housing for now. Heading down Hwy 17 I saw a sign for Los Gatos which I thought was too cute a name, and on pure impulse, drove into town. It was so breathtakingly beautiful as I pushed the stroller down North Santa Cruz Avenue that I never made it to the beach.

Los Gatos, California has been our home for the past 18 years, raising our children and making wonderful friends. Interrupted by four years in India (finding a home in Bangalore is an entire story in itself).

What I remember is that we never questioned settling here. Things fell into place despite many obstacles. We found a great landlady who rented to us because she wanted a little boy to live in her house. We won a bidding war to buy our home because the seller liked us. 

All I can say is follow your instinct. Yes, decide what you cannot do without, such as schools and commuting times, but remember that you have alternatives. Between us, my husband and I have had long commutes lightened by flexible work arrangements, working from home and easy commutes. If you plan to stay, plant roots. If you know it’s only for a few years, ask yourself what kind of lifestyle you would like to experience. My own lesson? Home is where your heart is. 

Are you a “Third Culture Parent”?

What’s in a name? Lots, actually! For one, identifying with the group calling themselves “Third Culture Parents” can help you with finding sometimes crucial information and support and to address the particular challenges, linked to raising kids in foreign cultures.

Here are 10 signs shared by third culture parents.

1. We’re struck by culture shock – like our children – meaning we can feel destabilized, unsettled, depressed or overexcited for a period of time ranging from several weeks to several months or even years!

We have to deal with a high level of stress, a reduced ability to communicate (due to language barrier but also the lack of understanding of non-verbal cues) and a modified sense of identity. This has an impact on the children. We are less available, more irritable, less patient. We may experience mood swings: being extremely frustrated because we’re lost in the street and can’t even find someone to help or being completely ecstatic in front of the impressive Great Wall of China.

2. We are facing – sometimes extremely deep – modifications of our identity.

But we’re supposed at the same time, to help our children develop their own! It’s challenging when you’re yourself struggling. In some cases, it can be heartbreaking to see our children deny the identity linked to our home country. This can be due to several reasons: trauma lived in the country of origin, negative image of the home country in the host country. My sister-in-law changed her name from Jasmine to Cathy to blend more easily in the French community. In other cases, the opposite reaction can occur. A friend of mine with a French mother and a Chinese father had Frédérique as first name. She proudly chose to use her middle name Siu Lan instead in her daily life.
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Why you should never celebrate “St. Patty’s day”

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I will never forget running into a very strange procession on the streets of Manhattan, shortly after my arrival into the US.  Hundreds of men were passing by, all in unusual green clothing, all with the expression of extreme importance on their faces, carrying banners and shiny omulets.  Fortunately, my companions were local and quickly explained: “It’s Saint Patrick’s day parade”.  What do you know about this celebration, so popular in America?

1. Most people know that St Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday celebrating the Patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, but did you know St. Patrick was not Irish?

Saint Patrick (known as Magonus Socatus before sainthood) was born in 5th century Roman Britain but was captured and brought to Ireland as a slave at age 16. He escaped, but later returned as a missionary and is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. It is believed he died on March 17th, 461. For hundreds of years he was forgotten, but then resurrected as the Patron Saint of Ireland in the early 17th century, hence the celebration of St Patrick’s Day on March 17th, the day he died.

2. Until recently all pubs were required by law to be closed on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

St Patrick’s Day was originally a religious holiday and thus Irish laws mandated that all pubs be closed on March 17th. This law was on the books until the 1970s.

Beginning in 1995, the Irish government saw the potential to use global interest in St. Patrick’s Day to stimulate tourism and showcase Ireland and Irish culture to the rest of the world. Today, about 1 million people converge on the cobbled streets of Dublin to enjoy St. Patrick’s Festival, a multi-day celebration with parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions, fireworks and of course, lots of pub crawling.

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Foto credit: Wikipedia.com