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Guest Blog: Book Review

From the point of view of Anne Craig at the Kickstart School

From the point of view of Anne Craig at the Kickstart School

Here you are – new place, new country, so much to do – now!  And you don’t even know how to ask what, when and how.  Your aim is to have a good life in this strange new place.  Learning the language can help you in that aim both in the short and longer term.  It helps you integrate with locals and earn their respect, meet other newcomers in the same situation as yourself, have a structure to your week and, very importantly, it gives you a sense of achievement.  Also, you might end up staying here longer than you had first thought…

This advice is given in the book, ‘The Mobile Life’ written by Diane Lemieux and Anne Parker.  The authors introduce a term – ‘resettling’, which I like.  Moving to a new place is not just about the physical relocation; to resettle is to create a good life for yourself and your family.  This book presents a proactive, problem-solving approach to make sure this happens.

Central to the book is the idea that to move is an Adventure!  Adventures are about exploring and are exciting and positive.  Indeed the key word throughout this book is ‘positive’.  Spliced through the book is the amazing story of the adventure of Ernest Shackleton and his Antarctic expedition which took place 1914 – 1917.  The expedition failed in its main aim of crossing Antarctica, but that is not what is remembered.  What is, is an incredible story of adventure and survival (and useful scientific research).  Everyone survived due to planning, strong leadership, determination, teamwork, courage and a positive attitude throughout and the expedition as a whole can be regarded as a success.  The authors, both very experienced international resettlers, tell us that we too are explorers who enjoy a challenge, survive tough times and can make a success of our moves.

This book is full of sound common sense.  For example, find out as much as possible beforehand and plan.  Such as, find out about language courses and start dates.  Also, we are reminded that the whole family is moving (often because of one member) and everyone needs to be motivated to create a good life and to have realistic expectations.  The authors don’t illustrate their points with their own stories, but there were many passages which made me think of my own experiences of moving countries over a 22 year period.  I wish I had read this book earlier in my mobile life.

The authors point out that different is not always bad; it is just different and yes, we have to adapt, but we don’t just have to become resigned.  The effort to understand and be understood by new neighbours will be worthwhile.  Again, learning the language helps a lot in this.

It was reassuring to read that resettling is a process and that there will be vulnerable moments, but these will pass.  It might seem obvious, but it was good to have it pointed out by the authors that establishing new routines involves doing something for the first time.  This can be a significant achievement which deserves a “Well done!”

This book has more to offer than just advice on how to resettle when moving location.  It points out the skills, knowledge and attitudes that we acquire through being mobile and that will be effective in dealing with any change.  For example, the move back ‘home’, the ‘empty nest’ or retirement.

On with the adventure!

Anne Craig, student of Dutch and now teacher of English at Kickstart

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