With travel and trade happening on a global level, it makes sense that more people are relocating from one country to another than ever before. No longer does it take weeks or months to sail across the ocean or traverse the countryside. All of this can be done in hours. Expatriate families are as common as individuals are. As such, there is a whole category of children who grow up as expats with their own values and experiences. It has been termed a culture unto itself by some experts.
This category of expat children usually includes those whose parents are diplomats, aid workers, researchers, military personnel, teachers, business executives, and the like.
One characteristic that is very common with many expat children is that they are raised in privileged environments due to the unique benefits of their parents’ expatriate arrangements. Most attend exclusive international schools, live in separated expat communities and end up being sheltered from the culture or communities of the country they live in.
A result of this type of upbringing is a sense of separation from those of the local children, which, in turn, may lead many expat kids to create their own subculture that is distinctive not only from the social circles of their parents but also separate from the community around them as well. Some expats grow up feeling like outsiders in their own home country since they do not fit in with the culture. There are psychological consequences that must be considered.
On the other hand, some studies show that expat children are more likely to attend college and get degrees. It is suggested that the experience of living abroad with their parents often translates into a more responsible attitude towards education.
Adult expats who grew up abroad readily acknowledge that their diverse cultural experience has helped them contribute in positive ways during their present lives and enriched their relationships. Most end up having successful careers.
Another characteristic of expat children is that they become bi or even multi-lingual—and remain so when they are adults. In fact, expats may speak more than one language on a regular basis.
It is obvious that children’s experiences of living in different cultures do influence their future lives. It may potentially be negative or positive depending on the individual.