Growing Up the Saban Way

Growing Up the Saban Way

By Kelsi Folsom "The practice of gratitude and fortitude will never be an unfruitful one, and is, I think, one of the greatest gifts of living abroad."         Ask anyone if they have ever heard of Saba, and most likely you will hear, “No, where is that?” To which I reply, “Well, it’s a five-square mile volcanic island of fewer than 1,800 people located in the Dutch Caribbean. It's home to the shortest commercial runway in the world, one of the most difficult medical schools, and the highest geographical point in the Netherlands. Want to grab lunch?” Saba is a charming mix of cultures. Although currently a Dutch protectorate, the language spoken is primarily English (with Dutch, Saba English, and a sprinkling of Spanish). There are the “expat locals” (American, Canadian, Scandinavian, European, Filipino, and others I have yet to interact with) and the “born and raised locals” (descendants of great sea-captains, pirates, shipbuilders, fishermen, and slaves) in addition to the 500 or so...
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Parenting Abroad: Freedom To Discard Unwanted Holidays

Parenting Abroad: Freedom To Discard Unwanted Holidays

Most days, I feel all alone. Geographically isolated from all that is familiar and linguistically isolated from what I know. The foreign language around me is easily tuned out and processed as white noise. It's soothing and I am alone with my thoughts. Parenting in cultural isolation can provide a new type of freedom in many ways. I have gladly discarded holidays and traditions that I never enjoyed. Without the cultural pressure to honor them, they quickly disappear. Anything that I am not willing to import myself will not get passed down to my children. It requires a lot of work to celebrate a holiday that isn't observed locally. Sorry kids, but Valentine's Day isn't going to be that important for our family. You'll survive. Some traditions, only the ones I hold near and dear to my heart, are kept. Celebrating holidays abroad is a bit like moving abroad—you discover that not so many things are important and you only take the...
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Celebrating Midsummer In Sweden Like A Swede

Celebrating Midsummer In Sweden Like A Swede

In the land of the Midnight Sun, on the longest day of the year, Swedes flock to the countryside, the seaside, or any side that isn't touching a city. Though the sun never dips below the horizon on the summer equinox, lovingly referred to as Midsommar in Swedish, the air doesn't feel hot and often a sweater or light jacket is still required. Many Swedes pack up their cars and head out to their summer houses in the countryside, but for the lonely few who don't own a summer house, we peasants head to the nearest island in Stockholm's vast archipelago. With over 24,000 (the actual number is hotly debated) islands to choose from, last year we chose a traditional favorite destination near Stockholm—Grinda—a 45-minute ferry ride from our closest town, Vaxholm.   The ferry boat is jammed full of merry Swedes—women are dressed in all white with wildflower wreaths in their hair and men are sporting colorful pants. The atmosphere is...
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5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

This article originally appeared at Parent.co, "5 Tips For Raising A Viking Child" in their Analog Life section that has other great articles for helping parents venture outdoors with their children.   I just returned from an exhilarating dragon expedition. After picking up my children from their Swedish preschool, my son frantically dragged me to the woods they had explored earlier in the day, eager to show me what they had discovered. We came upon the “dragon” quickly enough and to my eyes it was an old felled tree but to my five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, it was a massive, dangerous, and scaly sleeping dragon. In Sweden, according to a study, 80% of children between the ages of one to five years, attend Swedish daycare which promotes play, napping and eating meals outdoors. There are also some preschools that have no physical building as all of their learning occurs outdoors—in nature’s classroom. Conversely, in a recent cross-sectional study with a U.S. nationally representative sample, 44% of...
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