So long, farewell...

>> Monday, 20 June 2011

Being an expat can do strange things to a person, I've discovered. This time last year, I attended the end of year 'Ringing of the Bell' ceremony at the Boys' school, and last week I did so again (for yes, believe it or not we have already reached the end of term. Read it and weep, sisters; we have 10 weeks of summer holiday to get through. My joy knows no bounds...).

Now, last year, whilst I enjoyed the ceremony, I have to admit that it all seemed - to my jaundiced British eyes - just a little over the top. Sure, the parade of the flags of pupils' nationalities was amazing in it's diversity. The speeches by the principals were uplifting. The performances by the dance troupes, and choirs, the presentations to notable departing personnel, and the ringing out of the school year - with the final bell rung by the school director and representatives of various communities within the school - were affecting. But I have to admit that it all struck me as a bit, well, excessive. I mean, it's just the end of another school year, right? Why make a fuss? We'll all be back next August, won't we?

But here's yet another sign of how far down this expat road I've come, because of course this year I understand properly that we won't all be back next August. Friends (mine, and the Boys') are leaving, either to return to their country of origin or to move on to the next posting in their expat life, and their departure will leave sizeable holes in our existence. This time last year the same thing happened, of course it did, but we had only been here 6 months at the time. Now we've had another 12 months to build friendships and attachments, so to say that this year's ceremony was emotional for me, as I stood next to a good friend who is leaving soon, was something of an understatement.

I had taken tissues, and was not afraid to use them.

As I left the school building I bumped into someone who had recently moved here from the UK. She made the comment "Wow, it was all a bit 'God bless America', wasn't it?" The interesting thing was that at no stage was America - or God, for that matter - mentioned during the ceremony, and yet I knew exactly what she meant. She was right; this 'goodbye' ritual did seem very American to me - last year.

This year, though, it just seemed... right.

I must be turning into more of a softy than I realised...


Tattie Weasle 20 June 2011 at 21:02  

It's being so far from the mother country that does it, the old stiff upper lip starts to wobble and believe you me it is rather uplifting to be able to take and use your hankie at such events! But just think in 10 years time when the boys are starting their travels what a network you will be able to provide!

Muddling Along 20 June 2011 at 21:46  

Its the sad side of the expat experience, that the end of the school year is the point that everyone moves onwards and upwards and that it really does signify change and transition - it sounds like they have a great way of marking the change

p.s. am hoping to say at CM at the weekend!

nappy valley girl 21 June 2011 at 02:03  

I know exactly what you mean - even though it's not an expat school. I blogged about it the other day - Littleboy 1 actually did sing God Bless America. And it all seemed utterly appropriate and not over the top at all, even though last year I couldn't believe children were actually 'graduating' from preschool. I think I've realised that these years are going so quickly and they will never be in kindergarten/pre-K again - that's why it's all quite so emotional. (oh, and we had a singing headteacher too. Which I actually rather loved).

Jennifer from Dividing My Time 21 June 2011 at 12:35  

Always, always, always horrible. But, on the other hand, welcome to the softer side of life. This time, I know our side will win!!!

Get together soon?

Expat mum 21 June 2011 at 18:15  

Oh just wait till you go through the high school graduation thing. Doesn't matter if you're back being an ice-Queen in Blighty (not you personally Potty) or elsewhere in the world, - you'll need plenty of tissues!!

Knackered Mother 21 June 2011 at 21:22  

Exactly, sad but good sad (there is such a thing, I think). ps - you've been tagged over at mine. One for the airport? See you on Saturday!

MsCaroline 22 June 2011 at 05:57  

Since I grew up as an expat kid, I have always seen the end of the school year just as you described. If I wasn't moving during the summer, some of my friends would be. I hated the end of the school year. On the plus side, husband and I met in one continent, moved to two different continents (I to Europe, he to the Philippines) and years later ended up getting married. In the expat community, 'goodbye' really does often mean, 'see you later."
Doesn't make it any easier though, does it?

Emma Phillips 22 June 2011 at 13:11  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emma Phillips 22 June 2011 at 13:12  

Such a shame that you have so many goodbyes, but at least that means you have been fortunate enough to make good friends over the year. And it is so much easier to keep long distance friendships going these days with the help of the internet!

Emma Phillips
Our site: changing Bags

Iota 26 June 2011 at 12:07  

Hm, you've put your finger on lots of things here. Really lovely post. Says so much. The one that jumped out at me is the way our sensibilities change over time. Lots of things that I thought were a bit over the top, or gushy, when we first arrived in the US have now become a normal part of life. You move up or down a spectrum without noticing.

I think it's good. There's no point living abroad and talking about "broadening horizons" and "life-changing experience" if you just stay exactly the same, is there?

Having said that, LOVELY to see you at CyberMummy yesterday, and to see that you are - in fact - just the same as I remembered from last year!

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