Hacking Repatriation


I’m adjusting our repatriation, every day. Yesterday included a huge modification. Things that don’t work or that we have a gut feeling won’t work, we change. It’s a risky business, because we act fast. My husband and I are a damn good team: We see it, call it, and act on it. We don’t always initially agree, but over the years it seems like we agree on most things. Even when we don’t agree, the other person’s enthusiasm will convince us. When changes entail financial consequences, we sit down and cut our budget somewhere else. Making changes is damn hard, but trusting my gut and my partner’s gut has been the key to our successful expat years. Hopefully, it’ll work for our repatriation too.

We initiated a change concerning our daughter’s school after only four weeks, and some people would probably think that we’re overreacting. School wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. But in our expat years I learned that listening to my gut feeling is always the right choice. Originally we thought and heard from other expat families that the key to a successful repatriation was to reintegrate your expat kids into a Danish class and environment. But it just wasn’t a fit, for both her and us.

This Friday she and I had a meeting with teachers from a bilingual class, where kids besides a Danish education, get an English one. It’s at the same school. I loved her teachers, I loved the signs and words of wisdom they had hung on the classroom walls. Hell, I wanted to be in their class — which is the exact feeling you want to go for. It was that same feeling I had when I found her a second preschool in the U.S. Sometimes in your adjustment phase, you make mistakes, you miscalculate, and although it seems impossible, you have to change those circumstances to get the “YES-feeling”.

During the weekend, she resisted visiting the class and told me that she couldn’t and wouldn’t start all over again. That fitting into a new class is too hard. Our gut feeling was telling us that she would thrive in a “Danglish” environment, but we worried we were imposing one change too many.

For two days now after six weeks of insisting she should be picked up right after school, she wanted to stay for bookend (SFO). She has in her Danish class been a little shy. Well, that phase definitely seems to be over. On her first day in the bilingual class, she was elected for student council. She stood up in front of her class and pleaded her case. And won with the most votes. Her teacher emailed me that this line was the deal breaker: “I will treat people the way I like to be treated”, which she apparently said very confidently. So many other small changes in her behavior are positive too. Overall, we feel we owe it to her as well: Moving to the U.S. five years ago was hard on her, and not helping her keep her English would be a waste, it would not be fair to her.


Mission accomplished.

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