Settling a Toddler: What can help?

Settling a younger child in a new country can be quite a challenge. Everything is new, nothing the same, the environment, outdoor, the house, furniture, etc.. Parents may experience some stress and anxieties, the child will feel too. On the other hand, some things may be the same such as having dinner together, sibling relationships, games, clothes, toys.

It was very difficult initially to settle our youngest ( I can now say that we have turned a huge corner, no more tears, potty trained day and night, great success! Some strategies have been particularly helpful so I write these here in the view that it may be helpful to other families experiencing similar situations.

  • Find a special activity you like to do together, take pictures, bring these to nursery, show these to staff
  • Bringing a teddy or comforter to nursery
  • Talking to staff about his interests
  • Encouraging your child to talk about what he likes at nursery
  • Talking to staff about an activity you did at home
  • Communicative and positive transition times: morning and home times; talk about routines, eating, sleeping, potty training, mood
  • Transition times with family members i.e. brother and sister coming in to the nursery and talking about what he does there. For example, looking at animals together, or a book. It is a great opportunity for the younger child to show to his siblings his environment.
  • Bringing a toy from home to show his friends and staff (often a new toy we purchased as we had little)
  • Looking at pictures of him doing an activity in the nursery portfolio
  • Mum and dad coming to play for a little bit at nursery
  • Surprises at the end of the day such as choosing at the supermarket what he wants to eat for dinner. Rewards such as time on the iPad.
  • Finding a common interest between home and nursery, and share pictures, photographs, drawings, at nursery. For example, our little one loves animals so we talked about that at the nursery and we talked about our adventures seeing animals. We have visited the chicken enclosure at nursery as well as the rabbit area. Our little one was able to talk about the animals to us, how he feeds, how he holds them
  • Keep the routine going, similar routines to the ones before.
  • Repeating scripts has worked well when he did not want to go to nursery. For example, ‘let’s go to nursery’ (not giving a choice such as ‘do you want to go to nursery’), ‘Maman is going to work, lots of work to do, boring work, you know I love you and will come back at the end of the day to pick you up’ (reassurance that you will be back as everything is new, the child may be anxious about you not coming back), ‘I am working today, a boring day (not letting the child think your are having amazing adventures when not with you)’, ‘you will have lots of fun here’, ‘you like the slide’ (emphasis on likes and interests), ‘you like it at nursery’, ‘you have such amazing days’… keep it positive and motivating.
  • Try to stay calm and keep positive. Children can pick up our emotions very quickly so by keeping calm and positive they will feel that way too…
  • A keyperson approach or a person who appears to have built a positive relationship with your child may help settle him in transition times. Having a relationship with that keyperson may help understand what the child is going through or discuss more in-depth their interests and difficulties.
  • Ensure that you continue to respect my rules and values of the family. Continue to be firm with ground rules. It can be difficult to continue adopting these rules when everything is new and different. It will help to respect these rules, be persistent.
  • Keep communicating with staff about difficulties and challenges. We initially had three days of childcare, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I felt it did not encourage adaptation as it was too ‘bitty’. Staff felt it would give my child too long at home if I joined the three days together, like Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, leaving a full four days at home. Although I understand that concept, I felt that my child would benefit from the three day routine, similar to his older siblings as they go to school. We kept the communication opened and carried on discussing the issues. I then decided to move his days to three consecutive days. It worked much better for him.
  • Ensure that you understand different routines and whether these work for you and your child. We are still having difficulties with sleep patterns. At nursery, they sleep for an hour during the day, which is a completely different routine to the UK. My child was chocked initially about this routine and did not want to sleep, but now goes on the mat and has an hour. For us, it is tricky because it means he does not go to sleep until 10pm. We are still finding our way with this change…



Don’t know how and where I will die, in the meantime I enjoy where I am…

Listening to Pierre Lapointe tonight, a more morose and philosophical me arose…

‘Where and how will I die’ has become a theme that has hit me in recent years. I was in my early twenties when I ‘moved’ abroad, I never thought about living in a different country and having to die there. I was young, free, full of aspirations and dreams, not thinking about family members dying or dying…

Recently, I faced loss of significant people in my life. I started to ask myself where and how will I die…not necessarily imminent, but a pertinent question as you never know, pertinent for specific arrangements for a will and children…I always imagined dying in a place I love, in a chalet, in the woods around a Canadian lake, with people around I love, somewhere I have lived for a long time where my children and family can connect and relate to.

When you live abroad, this ‘type of dream’ and the technicalities of it all become somewhat overwhelming and full of challenges: ‘how do you learn about someone’s passing when you live abroad’, ‘ who tells you, how do you find out, do you get to know’, ‘how can I support family and friends of ‘a home country’ person who dies, ‘how can I be part of a community I grew up in when someone dies’, ‘when and how should I be close and travel’, ‘what about my children if I die or my husband dies, both of us die’, ‘who will take care of them’, ‘who will be able to give them the full cultural diversity and heritage’, ‘where will they be’, ‘where should I rest’, ‘who will be close enough to be present on the day, for my children, for my husband’, ‘what about furniture, souvenirs, memories, how are these kept miles away’, ‘where should I be buried so that my children have a place to grieve and have some closure, which country should that be in’…and many other questions. Significant questions as there are so many technicalities and logistics to ‘dying’…when you lose someone close, you realise these technicalities even more…

Having lived abroad for a long time, all of these questions made me realise that you only live once; you can plan it all, have it all laid in a will, but it will not work out the way you planned. People will travel if they can, people will give their best wishes wherever they are…yes it would be good to be present. I have been sincerely touched by friends and family who were there on such days. A gesture, a thought, a card, are also meaningful…you never know how you can touch someone by a written message, a bunch of flowers, an email, etc. Does it really have to be on the day? Grief and loss is not a one day experience, it is there with you to stay…there are many ways to express grief and loss over time…

As to where and when will I die…don’t know…does it really matter? I am here to live…and try to enjoy life to the max…in the meantime, I enjoy where I am…I am sure the children will find a place to remember me when it comes…and who knows how it will come…and where I will be…I have started to like the idea of having my ashes thrown at sea, whatever sea, close to a lighthouse. A lighthouse is a meaningful symbol as it represents a guide and lightened path through adversity, a path that I know my husband is working hard at developing. Even the children refer to Papa has having his permanent office in a lighthouse! Will it be what I want to happen in the end, don’t know, this is where we are at the moment…but I can be reassured that if something was going to happen I would have a meaningful plan laid out…not for me as I will be dead, but for everyone else around, who may need comfort and closure…after questioning and experience of loss, being abroad can also bring an interesting sense of calm to it all…



Children’s views as global citizens!

For a presentation about being global citizens to colleagues last Summer, I asked my children what they thought about living with dual nationalities and experiencing travelling around the world. I always find it fascinating to hear children’s views and perceptions of their experiences. I thought I would share these as these give an interesting sense of what children think about their story, cultural heritage, identity and view of the world. I have also asked the children to talk about their recent experience of being in Australia.

‘Papa grew up in Yorkshire, his family is Scottish, Maman is from Canada, but more Quebec, no one speaks English in Quebec…I was born in Scotland, I speak French and English, I wear the kilt at special events, I lived 10 years Essex, I now live in Australia…’

‘Don’t like the fact that so many migrants are getting blocked off. They should be able to travel where they want…it is not right, it’s their own human rights…to go where you want to…’(L., 12 yrs)

‘Having different friends from different countries…it is enjoyable, it gives other aspects of countries you have visited, different views of a country’ (L., 12 yrs)

‘You get to meet some new people, new additions, new baby, adding people in the world, meeting them, babysit them, look after them, being friendly, gentle, not boisterous, not violent, always forgiving when you have an argument.’ (E., 9 yrs)

‘The kilt can be embarrassing, it is a tradition not to wear pants underneath.’ (lots of laughs) (L., 12 yrs)

‘Living in different cultures, it is joyful, enjoyable, puzzling, because of everything going on, sometimes you don’t know what to do.’ (E., 9 yrs)

‘It’s sometimes upsetting, we have to leave a country…’ (E., 9 yrs)

It’s upsetting the wars, bombs, people dying, people invading our space.’ (E., 9 yrs)

‘Everything is around me, I know where everything is, if I need to go to Canada/Scotland, I know where it is…many places as well…you get to share what you have done somewhere else, catch up with people when you visit, stay there, come back, you have not caught up enough with them, you need to keep up with them.’ (E., 9yrs)

‘To live with two languages is brilliant, some people only live with one, I am lucky I have two different languages. I am allowed to be English, Canadian and Scottish as well (E. imitates a Scottish accent). Whitby is on the outskirt of Scotland…different languages, it is great, enjoyable.’ (E., 9 yrs)

‘UK is very small… so you can spread love much more, if you have Canada and Scotland as well, you can spread lots more love around. It’s fun. ’ (E., 9 yrs)

‘All three countries I have lived in have very different climates. I am very grateful to be living in a hotter country now. The wildlife is different too. I am enjoying getting to know different animals and birds. I am enjoying seeing my little brother growing up with his reactions to the new wildlife. I have seen a lot more different things such as trees, unique sceneries, greener, much more woodlands. The land feels a lot more vast, it feels it takes longer to walk to places than it would in the UK’. (L., 13)

‘All three countries are unique in their own special ways. I enjoy all three countries, but Australia ‘wowed me’ with all of its forest, woods, houses, schools, wildlife, outdoors. I can climb trees in my garden. The garden is the biggest garden I have ever had and I like the space we have. I like all the different lifestyles. UK is quite small. I miss my friends a lot and I have made new friends in Australia. I am playing lots of different activities and have different experiences. Food is quite different here. I need to learn about new food in Australia. We can find lots of Japanese food everywhere such as sushi which I love’. (E., 10)

‘like the sand, the beach…give food to the kangaroos, I see his big neck…I have teddies (Scooby Doo), need to get more teddies…like picnic in the woods, see some animals…take photos with Maman.’ (E., 3)

Series: Amazing Anchor Points 2

A few weeks ago I wrote a text about anchor points. Some people I spoke to mentioned that it was one of their favourite texts so far Series: Anchor Points Favouring Adaptation. I am particularly fond of the theory too as I wrote about anchor points during my masters thesis, a point in my life where I had never believed I would continue further academic studies, but some special people believed in me…

More recently, this theory made even more sense when related to global migration. And now I have been completely overwhelmed by how significant anchor points can promote adaptation.

A special friend from the UK put me in touch with some of his friends here in Australia. We got in touch via social media sites, intending to meet up. I was invited to a special evening. Due to distance, transport and childcare, it was tricky for my husband to come with me so I went on the train alone and was invited to stay overnight, a particularly hospitable gesture.

Within minutes of being there, there were so many connections that made me feel such like at home, amicable and friendly atmosphere, books in the house everywhere (many in psychology!), floorboards, weatherboard house, a swimming against courant pool that my husband and I had talked about buying for years, Birkenstocks, patio door we would put in the house we are renting if we renovated it, older furniture, colourful family kitchen, a vibrant and cosy house, great conversations related to my field of work. For those who know me well, you will understand how anchored that made me feel!

Within minutes of guests arriving, I met people who had studied in my field of work in Montreal. We then talked about maple syrup, the woods, beaver tails, snowy weather and winter sports, the outdoors. We talked about work, global migration and related issues. We sat down listening to a singer and guitarist, talking about migration, whilst sitting outside next to a roaring fire…the smell reminding me of ‘home’, the guitar and singing reminding me of Chez Son Père and all the music culture of Quebec.

I later met some more people who happened to live just over the creek from where we live now. We were able to talk about the town, schools, possible future meetings, and work as they worked in my field of work.

I then met someone from Scotland, where I lived for 5 years, a particularly important place for me as I arrived there with a packsack and could not understand the accent. We exchanged about the Scottish culture, places I had been, places where I had worked, my husband’s work in lighthouses, music and fiddlers of Nova Scotia and Quebec, musicians in Dunkeld, etc. I did understand the accent very well! But I think I may have surprised some people with mine…

All evening, I was completely overwhelmed by all the anchor points, past experiences leading to future possibilities…it seemed too good to be true…I had never experienced something like that…it felt like I was meant to be there, naturally flowing in conversations and feeling like at home…A huge thank you to all for thinking of me and making me feel so welcomed.

If you are welcoming a family from abroad in your community, you can also make a difference by inviting them along to a special evening. If you know someone in a country where a family is immigrating, it is an amazing special gift to connect people together!

Learning about Time and Pennies

It is interesting how some very trivial things in life, things you take for granted, become completely overwhelming and difficult to manage. We never thought time and pennies would cause us some headaches. You become so accustomed to your own ways of living and carry on…and then comes a move and it all changes…


We had always been familiar with communicating with family abroad, 5 hours difference with Montreal and London, it seemed reasonable to know when to phone with plenty of opportunities during the day to phone. We had also been familiar with this concept too as my husband travelled abroad. Children were used to speak to him on Skype or over the phone. He would always make an effort of phoning every evening either at dinner time when we are all at the dinner table or later in the evening before bedtime.

We have found that, communicating with Australia when preparing the move and then when we arrived, is a little more tricky. Keeping in touch with Montreal time as well as London time became impossible. Children were also very confused, thinking that it was just the same. Then my husband travelled to London and Paris via Dubai and then the children became even more confused. When he was abroad, he was able to phone but the routine of phoning at dinner time was completely thrown out of the window. We had to adapt to that and find new ways of communicating.

We purchased some clocks and we set them at the different zones. It is in a very prominent place in the house where children can see them easily. With these clocks, we have managed to have visual support to talk about time more effectively. It also gives a visual reminder of how ahead we are compared to the other two countries, when people get up, go to bed, then judge whether it is a good time to phone or not! A great way to learn about the world! Definitely a must!



When we started unpacking, we found lots of pennies in boxes, handbags, etc. We realised that these pennies were not just in pounds but lots of different currencies. Our travels have brought us in lots of different places, we had accumulated, unbeknown to us, quite a collection of pennies. As unpacking evolved, it became impossible to manage all these pennies so we purchased some jars, all the same, to put our pennies in. We have needed a pound sterling jar, a Canadian dollar jar, an Australian dollar jar, an Euro jar and a miscellenous jar. Children have had a great time looking at all these pennies. All very confusing too as the Queen is on many of them! Children have reflected on the fact that AUD jar seems to be always low on funds because they have admitted taking pennies for their lunch money! A very simple and practical idea helping children to learn about the world. Another must!


Expat, Migrant, Third Culture Kid, who am I?

I was reading some blogs and resources related to global migration. I was surprised to find so many different terms associated with being a ‘person living outside one’s home country’. It made me think about which term I would use to explain my/our migration. Here are some definitions:

  • Migrant: a person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions. (
  • Expat: a person who is voluntarily absent from their home or country (
  • Third Culture Kid (TCK): ‘…a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture, building relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any’. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background (Pollock & Van Reken, 2001)
  • Cross Culture Kid (CCK): ‘is a person who is living or has lived in, or meaningfully interacted with, two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during childhood (up to the age of 18)’. (Pollock & Van Reken, 2001)

Am I a migrant? Not necessarily, although, initially, when I left Quebec/Canada, I felt there were more employment opportunities in the UK. I certainly did not migrate for better living conditions. Surprisingly, Scotland was ‘very’ cold, dark and windy in the Winter, and humid, cloudy and light at night in the Summer. I wore shorts once in 5 years of living there. Tesco ran out of BBQ at the first ray of sunshine! Definitely not a migrant!

In regards to TCK and CCK, I grew up in a very rural area of Quebec, all my childhood, definitely not a child who has lived in different cultures…I would perhaps consider my children as CCK, but certainly not me.

I never really considered myself as an expat. Yes, I voluntarily left my home or country for a trip abroad, but I never intended to ‘leave’ my country as such. Life just happened. I have always had a very strong sense of identity and respect for my home culture with the desire to pass it on as much as I can, with its challenges. I try to go back for holidays as much as possible to catch up with family and friends, soak up all my culture again and ensure that my children experience that culture too. I have established a number of rituals and traditions in our family that are from my home culture. My oldest has become a real connaisseur of ‘poutines’ and keeps talking about how he could invent new recipes!

I married someone from a different cultural heritage and have embraced some of that culture too. My culture alone is no longer part of my existence, there is a lot more to it and many layers to it… Many traditions, rituals, routines we have adopted as a family have reasons to exist in our family and have been carefully chosen or thought of.

We now live in a different country to which neither of us come from. I lived 18 years in the UK, does that make me an UK expat, a culture which was not my own to begin with anyway?

The word expat has an interesting connotation to it…it sounds like as in ‘patriotic’…It is also often referred to as ‘a group of people from one culture living close by’. I have always felt uncomfortable with that word for many reasons:

  • I have never met a person from Quebec in my travels and experiences. Never been able to share being an expat with people from my own culture. In fact, I know a handful a people from Quebec who live or have lived abroad.
  • I am able to evaluate customs, traditions and attitudes that I like about my home country, but I am also able to contrast with other cultures some specific aspect of my own culture that I don’t necessarily embrace. Although I am particularly fond of my home culture and my origins, I am not patriotic at all costs.
  • I also don’t like the ‘ex’ in expat as if I am an ‘ex’ to that culture. The ‘ex’ part makes an assumption that it is over, finished. I personally don’t feel like an ‘ex’ at all. I still live and embrace that culture every day, in my own way, yes perhaps not on that specific piece of territory/land, but I am still sharing and living it, it’s part of me.

Where does that leave me? Who am I?

In all the forms I have to complete, I am a ‘white other’. Does that describe me well? Not sure it is particularly helpful. I have always found the word ‘other’ as not particularly respectful of one’s culture…’just that other one’, ‘feeling left out on the side’, and not well identified. For the school Census in England, every year I had to complete forms for the children’s schools. Every year, I added ‘French’, next to the ‘English’ ‘language spoken at home box’. Every year, it came back with ‘English’ as the only language spoken at home. Our identity at home was somewhat not fully respected there either.

Your passport, your identity?

On my passport, it says that I am Canadian, which brings some other implications with my identity. When I arrived in the UK, for the first time, the immigration officer was very puzzled as to the reasons why I was not able to understand him at all. I had to explain that I spoke French and not English. Many would assume that travelling with a Canadian passport means that you speak English. This immigration officer was shocked!

I am entitled to a British passport. Yes, I understand that culture, I lived there, I have many friends and family there. Although I lived there for 18 years, I don’t feel necessarily British as I speak in a second language to the primary language of that country and grew up with different rituals and culture and still embrace these.

Identity through Language?

Many people will hear you speak, say ‘Hello’, look again, look again, and you can see people thinking…’she is not from here’. And then you carry on, do what you have to do, and there seems to be this silence, this puzzling face, ‘where is she from?’ Sometimes people ask, sometimes people carry on, on many occasions people question further which then leads to THE conversation…’Where are you from?’ Over time, I started to say, ‘have a think, what do you think, have a guess!’ Nobody ever ever guessed…’French? (the name gives it away a bit)’, Irish?, the main one has been ‘Scandinavian?’, perhaps more for appearance than anything else, or perhaps because our accent becomes similar, northern countries, somehow, not sure…After a long time being in one place, where people tune in to your accent, become accustomed and know you well, in Australia, people have turned heads again, and then I just say ‘I have just moved from the UK’…’ahh ya I can hear it’ and then I say ‘I am Canadian, French speaking’…more puzzled, they then ask: ‘Can you spell your name for me?’

Can language identify your nationality? Well, I am writing a blog, in my second language, with many oddities I am sure! Yes I chose to write in English for many reasons. It is very far from my home culture, in fact, many people from my home culture may judge me for it…I go back to my home country and it takes me a couple of days to tune in to my home language, without looking for a translation for the odd words or sentence. I speak in French, people from my home country think I have an English accent, I speak English, I have an accent as I am not native and speak and write with some grammatical oddities (only a few!) that only the native will learn.

My children, who I try hard to pass on my language and cultural heritage to, speak with a British accent when they speak French. Does that make them less Canadian or Québécois? No, they are Canadian citizens in their own rights!

Who do I feel I am?

Interestingly, no form, no Census, will ask me that, rarely anybody has asked me that question. There was a recent video posted on a social media site ‘Don’t ask me where I am from, ask me if I’m local’ from Taiye Selasi, a very inspiring and powerful message. I related to this post and thought to myself: ‘I have been local there, there, and there…I can name these towns, give an address, talk about people I met there, the great local markets and shops, the charity organisations and schools, the landscape sceneries, to name a few…and so what, who do I feel I am? If I say, I am local, will people ask me about my journey, do locals ask people about their (international) stories? Will I then be expected to be similar to the locals?…Talking about my journey, is that important? Why should it be important? It describes who I am today, battles, languages, journeys, knowledge about specific areas, connections and relationships with people, trips, dreams, talents, ideas, I lived and come across…and what if I wanted to tell my story…not the one the form or the Census prescribes, not the one prescribed by a country, a history, a geography, and local map boundaries.

I ask…what about we asked each other, as narrative therapists would say (White & Epston, 1990), ‘what is your story?’

If I had to really choose a term, being global citizens seem to gel more easily with me. I embrace different cultures in my daily life. I share and talk about different cultures with my children and my husband. We are able to contrast and compare experiences lived in Canada, England, Scotland, and now Australia, as well as in Europe as we travelled there too. My husband also comes back with stories from his travels abroad from lots of different countries. In our travels and experiences, we have met people from all over the world. We share and discuss rituals and cultures with them too.

The term, global citizen, implies a notion of positivity, a sense of responsibilities, duties, and that you live in a world that refers to a globe, embraces a certain unity, aims to seek unity, a world of togetherness. It certainly has some interesting and deep meanings, perhaps much closer to how I feel we live our cross-cultural experiences, our daily experiences.

Pollock, D.C. & Van Reken, R. E. (2001): Third Culture Kids. Nicholas Brealey Publishing: London.

Taiye Selasi

White, M. & Epston, D. (1990). Narrative means to therapeutic ends. New York: WW Norton. ISBN 978-0393700985

A Jungle full of adventures: The King of the Swingers or the Jungle VIP?

I recently went to see the Jungle Book movie, a story particularly close to my heart because of my scouting and personal experiences. I was a Bagheera as a Cub Assistant Leader a few moons ago (something like 20 years ago!), became an Akela recently, but did not have the time to settle into that role as we moved abroad. My father-in-law was a Baloo, and a great Baloo too!  My children have been in Scouts and know all about the story. My youngest loves animals and calls the woods here, the jungle. For his first experience at the cinema, we were in for a treat!

The movie made me think of different parallels associated to moving to a new country. First, the jungle of the Jungle Book reflects in many aspects what it feels like to experience all the adventures of a new country, some happy, exciting and some more difficult and challenging. Second, many themes related to global migration are presented in this story:

  • leaving home
  • leaving loved ones behind
  • feeling different in a dominant culture
  • being ‘adopted’ in a different culture
  • using different skills and strategies to survive and live
  • meeting a number of different people on route
  • meeting people who become special friends
  • needing to judge people who are friends from the ones who can hurt you
  • needing to fight for oneself and protect others
  • respecting culture and values in a fight
  • being part of a team

Third, each character also has a different way to approach adventures and jungle. These different ways of being in the jungle also have great resonance in how one may approach adventures in a new country and this is what grabbed my attention…I make some analogies here, there may be a number of others…

Mowgli is a keen adventurer. Initially naive about the dangers of the jungle, he encounters a number of hurdles that could have cost him his life, but he perseveres, carries on, finds his way. He uses skills, strategies, speed, finesse to deal with these adventures. He succeeds in putting his ideas across to build more advanced methods of food hunting. He is reliable and loyal to his friends and those protecting him. He develops close friendships and uses teamwork to fight against violence.

Bagheera, a great protector and a coach. Firm, he accompanies others closely, warns of dangers, allows reflections of one’s skills as well as strategies as to how to approach adventures. Although, he gives specific advice, he gives space to others to develop one’s own experiences. He is there in the distance and always comes back to protect. He is observant and strategic when dealing with tricky situations. After observing one’s skills, effort and hard work, he respects it. He allows one to fight with his own strengths. He is loyal and respectful of others as well as appreciative of one’s presence and skills. Although, he appears more a solitary character initially, he builds confidence in others’ skills and works as a team.

An easy going character, living life to the full, Baloo delegates chores he feels he cannot do/does not want to do, the bare necessity, a minimum effort as we say in our house! His humour and easy way of life helps in finding a happy and secure environment in the jungle. Spending time, sharing and building strategies with others aiming to meet primary needs are his main activities in the jungle. Life seems simple and happy around Baloo. He finds great companionship.  His determination to overcome his own difficulties allows him to defend a friend. Although, he is seen to ask everyone favours initially, he works as a team to fight.

Akela is the leader, the head of the pack, protector, fights for the pack which costs him his life. Although, surrounded by a team (the council), there is a sense that he must remain strong and take the ultimate decisions alone. He insists that one should fight with the skills Akela taught.

Shere Khan has ultimately developed some maladaptive behaviour to deal with an earlier experience. He is relentlessly trying to deal with what he believes is an earlier mistake, but many will fight against. He is disruptive, frustrated, aggressive, difficult and manipulative. His ultimate goal is to destroy.

Kaa appears amicable at first, but manipulates others with her charming powers. She takes a long and enlacing approach to talking to someone, being convincing that one must be on her team and respect her, but ultimately perceives one has a prey.

Raksha, a mother figure, protective of her ‘children’, loving and attentive, she lets one go  for safety, adventures and self-discovery. Although devastated, she understands that it is now the time and that she has given her ‘child’ all a ‘child’ needs to explore the jungle and survive. She recognises skills and strengths in others and believes in one’s skills and strengths. Although worried, she appears to have a positive sense of future…’everything will be alright’.

King Louie is a firm, powerful character. He has built a huge empire where many people live around him and defend him. He hides in a huge castle/kingdom. When he decides to be part of the battle, he destroys all his kingdom and everything else in his passage.

So, when going in the jungle of adventures such as moving abroad, which character are you? What skills do you need for moving abroad? What approach works best?

Well, my husband is definitely a Mowgli! I was surprised at Bagheera’s role in accompanying Mowgli and particularly connected again with this character. The movie reminded of a Raksha I volunteered with, who played a great mother role in the pack. I particularly related to this role, now being a mother of three. I suppose skills, strengths and attitudes evolve over time…there may be a need to be more than one characters along the way! As per skills and the best approach, I will let you reflect on this!

Some fascinating analogies, no wonder Baden-Powell asked Kipling to use his story for the Cub Scouts…a great story for all sort of global migration adventures!

Mission Impossible?

There are just days that are just like that…feeling that missions are impossible. Since, we arrived here, I have had a number of missions, more more fun than others. From road tax and medicare offices, to garages, shops, estate agents, mortgage brokers, medical centre, schools, to name a few, I feel I have had many missions. Some missions are completed successfully and in a straightforward way, but others are particularly complicated…

I register all the children in schools and childcare centres. I am given appointments where registration depends on many factors such as opening hours of the uniform shop, school tours, form filling; we respect that and go along with that. I register the little one to a childcare centre. Whilst he has a little play in his room, I sit in a family room, complete all the forms. We come back for a second visit with more forms completed, the receptionist realise he has asthma and eczema which means they need a full treatment and care plan, a plan fully signed by a GP before he can stay. We do not have a GP yet so I register to the medical centre and try to book an appointment. You will need a Medicare number. Ok go to the Medicare centre, sorry we cannot see you alone, your husband has to be with you. My husband is at work during the day, what are your opening hours? well, 9 to 4…ok, will ask husband to take an afternoon off and come back another day…can’t really take an afternoon off until next week, some busy days, etc. I managed to have an appointment with the GP without a medicare number and very rapidly too because a child had to be seen, but still sometimes it feels that you are in a chicken and egg situation…

After years of trying to get qualifications to work as a psychologist, in the first instance having my qualifications recognised from Canada in the UK, and then getting on a conversion programme to access a doctorate programme, I feel that I am now back at square one, having to go through it all again. I don’t know many times I have been police checked in Canada, in the UK, for employment, for voluntary work, I would have not have been able to work in education the last twenty years if I had not been properly police checked, but I now need to go through a full international police check. I also need to apply to a psychology board for registration, but I cannot apply until I have a fully transitional programme in place, which includes supervision, and cannot be employed until I am registered…a full chicken and egg situation again…I am completely mind boggled…

There are definitely days that feel missions are impossible!!!



Series: Anchor Points Favouring Adaptation

I became familiar with the concept of anchor points to school adjustment for my Masters thesis. I find this concept interesting when associated with global migration as I have experienced a number of situations where I felt anchor points are particularly helpful in promoting adaptation to a new country and environment.


From language related to navigation, an anchor is defined as a heavy hooked object that is dropped from a boat into the water at the end of a chain in order to make the boat stay in one place (Collins Dictionary). In psychology, the word ‘anchor’ has been used to describe specific points during a process of adaptation, such as experiences that are significant in staying in one place and adapting to the new environment.

Koizumi (2000) defines anchor points to school adaptation as elements of a person-in-environment system, which facilitate transaction between the person and the environment such as information, knowledge, family, friends, physical bases for activities, institutions and organisations. He outlines dimensions of the environment and explains that socio-cultural issues are particularly associated with anchor points:

  • Physical: buildings, location and rooms
  • Interpersonal: family, friends, teachers, siblings
  • Socio-cultural: culture, language, behaviour patterns

Koizumi (2000) explains that anchor points are used by a person to develop a perceptions and evaluation of the environment and to structure a basis for individual experiences. He continues by saying that there are anchor points in both pre and post transition experiences and that a person who explores a new environment will be using these to develop their own schemas or cognitive map. He explains that anchor points facilitate the structuring of the environment and later adaptation.


We had lived in seaside locations for twelve years in the UK. As a Canadian, I felt I missed the woods. Growing up in the Yorkshire Moors, my husband also felt he missed the woods. We therefore decided to live in a location that reminded us of earlier experiences, something we missed greatly. It has massively helped in settling where we are now. We both feel at peace when we walk in the house. The kids have plenty of space to explore outdoors. The walks around the reserves are great. We had great fun yesterday playing hide and seek in the woods with our youngest.


Moving to Australia, I have been particularly surprised at the number of anchor points that reconnect me back to my home country. Some of these I had completely lost in the UK and it has been great to reconnect. Here are some top anchor points, some more trivial than others!

  • IGA logo and shops
  • Coffee culture
  • Smell of Palmolive
  • Being in the woods
  • Veal
  • Laundry rooms and built in wardrobes in houses
  • Drier and sunnier weather

Anchor Points for Children

Anchor points are also an interesting concept when thinking about children’s adaptation to a new country. Although some exciting and new adventures are great and stimulating, children may also need some specific anchor points to encourage adaptation. This week, I was unpacking toiletry boxes. We do not have much storage in bathrooms in our rental house so I was aiming to declutter and throw lots out. Although I did not like the cluttered look, I put all the toiletry on the window ledge. My daughter commented on my work and said that she was so pleased the house looked so much more like a ‘home’ now. Although quite trivial, our toiletry, for my daughter, created a sense of home.

Children have also asked to do activities they feel good at such as hockey, cricket and netball. Although they are learning the rules of Aussie Football, their favourite sports are surfacing and they are keen to be part of some teams. My son was delighted when he found his hockey bag in our boxes.

Food and Culture

Over the years of living away from my home country, I have found that sharing food is one of the greatest way to connect with others and talk about my home culture. I regularly receive guests with a ‘fondue chinoise’ or ‘a raclette’. I have to be creative because I cannot find sliced meat, the same as in Quebec, but over the years, I have managed to find alternatives. I still make the same sauces and bouillon as my mother did and a caesar salad. I also feel that eating over a fondue creates a great atmosphere as it is a long dinner and talkative dinner. I always feel that there is a certain form of comfort to cook food from your home culture and share it with others.

It is comforting to find food that you like in the supermarkets or being able to cook something familiar. I often bring back in my luggage St-Hubert sauce for poutine, or des herbes salées du Bas du Fleuve. Visitors bring for us ‘des chips au ketchup’ and ‘Froot Loops’. I feel that by having some food from home, it helps me not to miss it so much. It is there as an anchor point, promoting my adaptation to global migration. It also helps the children to know about food from my home country and they love it…they love a ‘pâté chinois’, a ‘raclette’, a ‘fondue’ and home made ‘poutine’!

We have been able to find a number of ingredients from the UK here. It will be much easier to find food from the UK than food from Quebec. Many British people who moved to Australia must have felt the need to settle with these as anchor points!

Anchor Points: A Second Layer, A Deeper Meaning

In my experience, anchor points can be as important and great such as living in the woods, or very specific and little such toiletry. I have found that there is a second layer to anchor points, those associated with senses. Smell I feel is a particularly important anchor point that can generate some very strong emotions. For example, my grandparents owned a florist shop and, as children, we used to visit and help at the shop. The smell of the greenhouses and fresh cut flowers is particular and strong. If I walk in a florist shop nowadays, anywhere in the world, I am particularly overwhelmed by the smell linked to my childhood memories. A bunch of cut flowers in the house or learning about different flowers are also important to me. I have a lot to learn in Australia as my knowledge of flowers on this continent is pretty limited, but I recognised last week stephanotis growing in a bush, just at the front door, a flower I remember smelling in my grandparents’ greenhouse, a flower I had in my hair for my wedding…I was amazed when I found it and now I am smelling it every time I go past.


As a child, I also remember walking the greenhouses and gardens with my grandmother and my mother looking at the plants and naming them. Recently, we had a visitor who did the exact same thing with me, she initiated a walk around the garden and she named all the plants and flowers. Unknown to her, it was a particularly precious moment as I have lots to learn here, but mainly because it was a particularly important anchor point for me, an activity of the past brought into learning about my new environment.

Anchor Points: Connecting with others

People can make such a difference in adaptation to a new country, in creating some particularly important anchor points. When talking to people here, I found it easy to connect for lots of different reasons:

  • people have relatives in the UK (I also experienced this when I arrived in Scotland, I met so many people who had relatives in Canada)
  • people have travelled and lived abroad too
  • some colleagues visited us a couple of years ago in our house so they can relate to us when we talk about our house in the UK
  • lots of connections to places we have lived, come from or been

Discussions then flow and it makes it interesting and fascinating to connect with others. The amicability of the Australians has certainly made a big impact on our opportunities to connect and meet others. Meeting one or two significant persons can also help hugely so that you can ask a couple of questions about the culture, the new environment and lead you in a different direction, to another person. I have found that just one person connecting you to a social media site or sending you just a bit of information has been very helpful.

Some Difficulties with Anchor Points when Moving Abroad

Although I meet many people from the UK in Australia, all these years away, I have never met someone from Quebec, either in Scotland or in England, and now the likelihood of meeting someone from Quebec in Australia seems particularly slim! Living in a majority culture, the language and the distance certainly influence the opportunities global citizens may have in meeting people from their home country. There is never been a big concentration of ‘Québécois’ around the corner from where I live!

Systems also use anchor points to promote adaptation in their setting. For example, in two of the educational settings my children attend, grandparents have been invited to come in to read to the children. For us as global citizens, grandparents morning is a tricky one, they are not close by. Although, educational settings may be using this strategy as a way to promote connections and adaptation for children, for us, it has the opposite effect. It may create some feelings of missing them, and wanting to be with them…not always easy to fully explain that we cannot see this person immediately.

Systems Facilitating Anchor Points

Systems can also facilitate the creation of anchor points. One of the schools my children attend has a class parent rep system. Very quickly after arriving here, I was invited to an evening out with mothers of children in the same class as my child. It was flattering to be invited, a great social opportunity. It really helped meeting people in similar situations and connect with them. I felt very welcomed and connected!

Some systems we have been part of have celebrated an international day where everyone brings food from their country. Children drew flags, learnt songs and stories from that country and culture. It really helped my children share, explain their cultural heritage and experiences abroad and ‘normalise’ their situation in a dominant culture.

We have recently realised that colleagues in my husband’s department experience  cultural diversity too so we have organised an evening at home where everyone has been asked to bring food and drinks from their country. We are certainly looking forward to the variety this will bring and also looking forward to hear their stories.

Objects and Artefacts

Over the years, we have built a number of objects related to our travels. We have also bought pieces of furniture and artwork/picture frames in different places around the world. When we decided to move, we did not want to let these items go as they all have stories. From our past to the future, we felt important to bring these items with us, stories that follow us around the world, significant anchor points indeed.  Significant objects and artefacts always reminds me of the Freud Museum I visited in London…I am sure we will find some new objects and artefacts that represent our experience here too.

Anchor Points in Global Migration 

I would certainly agree that anchor points promote adaptation. It helps connect past experiences and the new environment together. Do we find them? Perhaps not so much, they tend to emerge in a very informal way and unexpectedly as you find your way around this new environment you live in. Some information and knowledge may be easier to find than others and some specific strategies may promote these anchor points to be present in our lives. Systems can have a huge impact in implementing strategies that will promote the adaptation of global families. Some anchor points may take you more by surprise as these may be particularly meaningful. As a global citizen, it is important to be aware of these anchor points and how these can support a successful adaptation. These can be favoured by the individual, family and by people and systems around too. If you are moving abroad, look out for these anchor points, trivial and meaningful; if you are welcoming someone moving from abroad, you can also make a difference too!

Koizumi, R. (2000). Anchor Points in Transitions to a New School Environment. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 20 (3), pp. 175-187.