As the child of two diplomats, I grew up outside of the US until I went to college. I got a lot of “Mean Girls” jokes after I spent some time in Africa (“if you’re from Africa, why are you white?”). The hardest question for me to answer is probably, “where are you from?”, and I still dread it all the time.



EDIT: Please keep the questions coming! I’ve got some free time this evening to answer more.

Comments: 169 • Responses: 64  • Date: 

Malak7776 karma

Where are you from?

fs_brat55 karma

Haha nice.

misskrumpet5 karma

I moved a lot due to my military dad, and I hate this question. I was only in the country I was born for a few months, and never lived there again so I don't feel I can claim that.

trnscrptmusic3 karma

I've moved around a lot too because my dad is an engineer. The question itself isn't too bad, I usually just say 'England'. It's when they ask 'where in england?' that it gets awkward and difficult 😂

fs_brat15 karma

My new favorite response is, “how long ya got?”

Johnny_Carcinogenic14 karma

Hello. I was wondering about your interaction and integration with the local cultures. Did you feel like you were part of the local culture or were you more isolated?

fs_brat32 karma

It kind of depended on where we lived, I would say. For the most part I felt very integrated- learned the local language, went to schools with local kids (although as I got older I started going to International Schools). It was more of a feeling of a community within a community- the “Embassy family” was a tight knit group that you could rely on, but otherwise it was pretty common to assimilate in to the local culture.

Johnny_Carcinogenic9 karma

Thank you for the answer. How many languages would you say you are conversational in now.

fs_brat20 karma

Thanks for asking! Conversational, I would just say two at this point in my life. But I could get by in a few others and I’ve been able to re-learn some languages pretty quickly as an adult in my own travels.

1tacoshort4 karma

How did you deal with the plethora of languages in Africa? Were you able to get by learning the primary language where you were living or did you have to learn bits and pieces of several languages to be able to navigate the local waters?

fs_brat11 karma

I was only really able to learn the primary language (colonial language) for the most part. When I was younger I sort of picked up a bit of one of the click languages (which are amazing languages that I wish were used more), but for the most part French and English got me everywhere.

avocadogirl1512 karma

What countries did you live in/have you been to?

fs_brat17 karma

For my own privacy I don’t wanna get too specific here, but I spent some time in Europe, Scandinavia and Africa. Since I went to college I’ve only lived in the States, but I’m thinking about hitting the road again.

[deleted]1 karma


fs_brat19 karma

You’re totally right, it is. I was trying to be as specific as I felt comfortable. You can infer that when I said “Europe” I meant ‘the Continent’, as the Brits would say.

And I’m sorry you are disappointed that I’m not sharing details of where exactly I’ve lived, but there are apparently plenty of questions to be asked that don’t require that specific knowledge. Let me know if you have any other questions about my experience!

MoonForce8 karma

That was quite diplomatic! ;)

fs_brat13 karma

:) Once a diplomat’s kid, always a diplomat’s kid.

Mantisbog11 karma

Is yelling at another country via twitter in all caps an acceptable form of diplomacy?

fs_brat13 karma


At least it’s easy to answer that in under 140 characters.

SwamBMX10 karma

I've worked in 30 or 40 US embassies around the world. There's a good chance I trained your parents if they work in Consular. How do you think they feel about the state of our immigration and visitor policies with the current administration? Do they enjoy working for DoS? Any plans to become a road warrior yourself?

fs_brat11 karma

Oh hey, small world. While I don’t want to speak for my parents, I can say with complete certainty that they are not fans of the current immigration and visitor policies. They’ve remained political (although in different careers now). They both loved working for the DoS (and won’t shut up about it haha), but I don’t have any immediate plans of following in their footsteps. I think it’s always an option for me should I stop enjoying what I do now, but I’m pretty happy in my current career path.

n0xz9 karma

What is the criteria for sending your parents to a specific country vs another? Is there a term limit? The reason you moved every few years?

Do they have a choice of country/region where they wanna be? Or it's just as needed basis?

fs_brat18 karma

While it depends on need, there also is some wiggle room for people to narrow down the list of possible countries they move to. We moved every 2-4 years, and that was pretty common. 4 years was the longest most employees stayed in one place.

It’s also down to the languages my parents knew as well- while you can get more language training to move to a different region, that would mean spending time in Washington D.C. Also for families with kids the State Department was pretty good about offering you low-risk countries and places with schools.

n0xz3 karma

It's incredibly upsetting for the kids to be uprooted every 2-4 years. How do you/your parents deal with it?

With a new administration in, I heard Trump fired all the ambassadors without finding replacements first. Did that affect you? How'd you deal with it?

fs_brat36 karma

I think it depends on the kid and the family. I was never really upset by being “uprooted”, because my family drilled into us at a young age that our family unit was all we needed, and every move was an adventure. It sounds really cheesy and Disney-esque to say, but I really didn’t get mad at my parents for moving us all the time. If it’s all you know, then it’s not hard. I think it would be more difficult to be uprooted once from a place you’ve called home for a long time.

It’s a mentality thing- you just start to view everything as temporary. Maybe that’s had some negative consequences for me as an adult haha but as a kid it worked just great.

In terms of the current political situation, both my parents have changed careers so it does not directly effect me at all. However, one of my family’s close friends (who had been working at a higher level of government in DC) was, uh, removed, and that was very interesting to see.

That being said, there is no way that either of my parents would have continued working for our current president (and has played a role in why I haven’t more strongly considered following in their footsteps for now).

I think what he did is incredibly stupid and dangerous. There, I said it.

thestreetiliveon7 karma

Did you hate it as much as my cousins did? They were forever living in compounds, high security, etc. They don't begrudge their parents for it, but often talk about having missed out on a 'normal' childhood.

fs_brat16 karma

I’m sorry your cousins hated it- living in compounds would definitely be tough. Compounds were not the norm, and usually just existed in high-risk countries. I never lived in a compound so I bet I had a totally different experience than them, and I loved it and am very thankful for my upbringing.

I did know a few people growing up that were in situations like mine, and not everyone likes it. It definitely sets you up to have a “different” adult life- I’m not happy living anywhere for too long and I probably spend more money than I should traveling internationally (still) seeing things with my own eyes.

What’s fascinating to me is people who grew up in one house in the States- I can’t imagine anything like that. In a way I’m sad I never got the childhood that I see on American TV but I know I got really lucky with my parents’ careers too.

thestreetiliveon5 karma

I can't imagine living in a place where you can't just tell your mom "I'm going to my friend's house!" and leaving. Although they did make lifelong friends at their international schools, they had no real freedom.

fs_brat8 karma

Yeah, that’s definitely something I can relate to. I think my parents drove me to my friends’ houses more than most US-based parents do. Whenever I watch TV shows where kids are just running off and doing their own thing outside I get a little sad.

prof_hussam7 karma

what are the best and worst countries you've stayed at? and why are they the best/worst ?

fs_brat11 karma

The best country was a small land-locked country in West Africa! I was in elementary school at the time and it just seemed like the craziest adventure. I saw things and travelled to places that I know a lot of people never get to experience, and the locals were some of the kindest people I’ve met anywhere. I think I was at a good age to accept being that isolated from the rest of the world, too.

The worst country was also in Africa, but a different region. It was a more corrupt country that had bigger political problems, and that made things much more stressful. Most of opinions about the countries I lived in are based on the quality of the schools and the people, since I wasn’t trying to work there.

one_hot_llama13 karma

Only small land-locked country in Western Africa is Burkina Faso, for the curious.

fs_brat10 karma

Caught me. :)

coryrenton5 karma

how much political drama and intrigue would you say filtered down to your level of awareness?

fs_brat11 karma

More and more as I got older. I wouldn’t say I was super aware of what my parents were doing when I was a kid (but I think that’s just a kid thing). Mostly I would be aware of office politics within the Embassy (as that’s what my parents would mostly talk about at home), but then as I grew older dinner table talk became discussions about local and global politics.

My parents did a good job of keeping us worry-free and innocent for as long as they could, and then they focused on making sure we were aware of the situation in the world and what it meant to be an American in some of the places we lived.

rokevoney5 karma

I presume that you make friends easy, and forget them just as easy? Its what i noticed in a person with a simlar background to you, wonder if its a general thing in internationally mobile kids...?

fs_brat10 karma

Yeah that’s a great way to put it haha! That’s been one of the bigger struggles since leaving that lifestyle. I get along with anyone and can chit chat and shoot the breeze about anything, but I don’t have any lasting friendships. Usually text message convos fizzle out and phone calls become less regular. I haven’t yet figured out a way to fix that about myself, and I doubt I’m the only one.

I think it can be hard for my [former] friends to understand, as it does make me anxious when I hear from them after a long period of silence (because I’m guilty about it). That’s definitely a bad side effect.

DelilahDee9126 karma

I’m the same way, and I haven’t figured out how to get friendships to stick either. I have a couple that have survived the tests of time, but I’m essentially a “lone wolf.” I just want someone to do fun stuff with! Haha

fs_brat4 karma

Amen haha! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with temporary friendships, as long as you don’t tell your friends that I guess?

H2Omelon54 karma

Will you have diplomatic passport forever ?

fs_brat13 karma

Oh no, I only use a regular US citizen’s passport now. The diplomatic one has long been expired/ cancelled. I hold on to it because it’s a good souvenir, with all the stamps and stuff in it.

Bayleaf1543 karma

As someone who is an expatriate myself, I can relate to the difficult answers for the question 'Where are you from?'. For the longest time, before I moved to Dubai, I thought I was from Singapore (moved there when I was 3 months old). Then I moved to Dubai and lived there for 7 years and ended up thinking that I was Arabic. Living in Cameroon, Africa was an other experience entirely but for some reason peeps didn't think I was African :thonking:. Anyways, enjoy your AMA! And I think I can relate to some of the answers you give.

fs_brat6 karma

I’m glad you can relate! I love finding people I can relate to in this way, and I hope you feel the same. And yeah, I have a very distinct memory of telling friends at school in elementary school that I was from Africa...

Brek_Shea3 karma

How many languages can you speak? What is the hardest to learn?

fs_brat4 karma

Two conversationally! I haven’t tried to learn all the languages out there, but I would say probably Mandarin, Russian or Arabic would be the hardest to learn as an English-speaker (in my opinion).

trnscrptmusic3 karma

You did IB? That's so cool! I love finding other international people who are so similar to me. I'm from England but I've lived in Malaysia, Houston, Madrid and Saudi Arabia. I'm 18 just finished IB and going to university in the U.K. As I am about to start my adult life, how would you say that living internationally has helped you as an adult?

fs_brat4 karma

I did, yeah! Full IB. Congrats on finishing, it’s tough at the end, if I remember correctly.

I would say that having a different perspective than most people has helped me stay open for opportunities in my own life. Taking risks to go work abroad for a short while, and not being afraid of traveling or being new. It’s definitely help me feel comfortable talking to anyone, as well, as I know how to keep my opinions to myself and listen.

Also it puts a lot of things in perspective. A lot of people do service trips to remain humble, but growing up for years in areas like that, it can make you realize that you really have it good. And the impact of that lasts longer than a service trip, in my experience, because you’ve also had to learn how to adjust with fewer resources. Not to devalue service trips or anything- they’re an amazing thing to do.

throw_away_173813 karma

Anyone you know had to use Diplomatic Immunity?

DId you spend much time with other Diplomat Kids? What where they like?

fs_brat10 karma

Mmm, I don’t have any stories of crazy uses of Diplomatic Immunity. I think it’s one of those things that kind of gets blown out of proportion because when non-state department folks hear of it being used, it’s usually cause someone is abusing it. Truth is I didn’t even know that was a reality of our situation until I was much older.

And yes! Most of my best friends when I was younger were other diplomat kids. I think the ones that did the best were the ones that had siblings- that was a pattern I noticed early one. Single child households didn’t tend to last as long. I knew a kid who freaked out being abroad in their parents’ first posting, so the whole family had to move back to DC.

At some schools, we used to have an embassy “school bus” (which was just a van) that would pick all the embassy kids up and drop us off at school together. That was always a highlight of the day, and made us feel like one big crazy family. You also were always assigned a host family when you move to a new country, and they would try to pick host families based on the kids’ ages, so that usually turned into quick friendship.

throw_away_173811 karma

That's cool, thanks for answering. It's all super interesting!

Can you share what you want to do when your'e older?

fs_brat6 karma

Thanks for asking!

And while I definitely appreciate the question about “when I’m older”, I actually am already an adult (mostly)! I’m working in tech at the moment, but who knows... maybe with a new President I’ll be more motivated to pivot and follow in my parents’ footsteps...

throw_away_173812 karma

I can totally understand why. Maximum of 6 more years I hope. Are you doing tech abroad now? Or are you doing it remotely i.e. web dev?

fs_brat11 karma

Oof, I hope nowhere near that long. And I’m actually just working in the US now! Just at a job that understands that I enjoy taking multiple-week international trips.

throw_away_173811 karma

I know I know, I just resigned my self to expecting the worst and perhaps being immensely surprised if it's only 2 more.

Good luck to you in your endeavours!

fs_brat3 karma

You as well!

TheInnsanity2 karma

What's your [years old] / [houses lived in] total? I'm currently sitting at .90

fs_brat2 karma

By that calculation I’m at a 2, but if you meant the reverse then 0.5. Either way, I think you got me beat! You must have some stories to tell.

NanoRabbit2 karma

Cool AMA! Do you have any tips for making friends as an ex-pat, or ways to feel at home more quickly in a new place? I've lived overseas for short (1-few month) periods in the past, but would like to try a longer stretch in the future. Was it ever tiring to be perpetually perceived as a foreigner (if that is something that you felt)?

fs_brat6 karma

Hey thanks! Cool question. It’s definitely tough to make friends as an ex-pat sometimes (especially outside of other ex-pat circles). I would say it’s probably easier if you spend more time in one place abroad (so a few months like your past experiences wouldn’t be the same as a longer timeframe). It always helped me to try not to think of myself as a foreigner, and just treat it like any move to a new place. Find some places that you like to eat or visit or hang out, look for community centers or activities you can do outside of work and keep asking locals where to go. I was never tired of being seen as a foreigner, as it gives you kind of an innocence to try new things, but sometimes I would feel a little nervous saying I was an American specifically. Luckily I don’t have any real American accent, so I can pretend to be Canadian when I need to. :)

roughhauser2 karma

Hello there! How was your education growing up, did moving around to different countries that may have had differing education systems interfere with your ease of learning?

fs_brat12 karma

Hi! I went to International schools for most of my childhood, so I would say my education was pretty good! A little shaky in some areas (I have a very limited grasp of American history), and surprisingly good in others (African colonial history, for example, is one of my strong suits).

Honestly IB saved my educational life (International Baccalaureate). It gave me consistency and allowed me to have a chance getting into American colleges when the time came (because it was a program they recognized outside of AP).

ericbyo1 karma

We are pretty similar, I grew up moving every few years as well (Parents worked in Oil). Lived in Africa, Australia, France, Sweden, Malaysia and the UK went to international schools and did the IB. It is nice to see other people like me out there

fs_brat6 karma

Definitely! I actually met a whole group of people who grew up like I did when I was visiting Poland for a film festival a few years ago, and it always makes me feel good to find people with a similar experience. I sometimes have a hard time relating to my peers who didn’t grow up abroad. There’s a certain level of understanding that’s hard to communicate verbally.

AbeFromanLuvsSausage2 karma

Did you get to know any other government employed families? My fiancé is nearly done with the prerequisites to be a foreign service officer, but I am not a government employee. Did you see any other couples/families where one person worked for the government, but the other person worked locally?

fs_brat6 karma

Congratulations to your fiancé! And definitely, there were a lot of families that only had one person working for the government. It’s definitely possible and pretty common- if anything, the couples that weren’t both working for the Government were often more interesting haha!

AbeFromanLuvsSausage3 karma

I work in hospitality, so I think I’ll be able to work just about anywhere. How would you rate your quality of life growing up and now looking back? Did your parents make decent money? Did you feel privileged or well-off?

fs_brat3 karma

My parents made decent money, but not crazy money either- solidly middle class (whatever that is anymore). You can make more money working in hardship posts (like almost anywhere in Africa, as opposed to almost anywhere in Europe), so we did ok. Good luck with your move!

ell202 karma

Hey foreign service family here as well. How many languages have you picked up because of your life style?

fs_brat3 karma

Hey! Two conversationally, but I recently was able to re-learn chunks of a former forgotten language that was helpful for my adult travels. How about you?

ell204 karma

I grew up in an expat household so I already started out with two growing up. After I met my wife, we lived overseas a few more times and in the process I picked up another language. (My wife, on the other hand, speaks SIX)

My daughter now speaks a handful of words of like, 4 different languages.

fs_brat4 karma

Yeah, my mom has a gift with languages, and speaks a ton. All the hard ones that I mentioned in a different answer too- Mandarin, Arabic and Russian, among others.

It’s great you’re teaching your daughter other languages! It’s a skill she can keep with her her whole life.

er1catwork2 karma

Would you put your children through what you’ve been through? I’ve got to imagine it’s countless life experiences that fe people will ever see!

I would love to redo my life over and work for the DoS! Had a close family friend that worked for US AID. Boy, the stories he told..........

fs_brat2 karma

If I ever have kids, and I joined the foreign service myself, I would absolutely bring them along with me. Each kid is different, so I would be on the watch for trouble, but I can barely even explain the positive impact my childhood has had on my life.

xampl91 karma

Ex military here. I feel that there's a lot of the US out there that I haven't seen yet and plan on hitting the road once I'm done with my career.

Do you get the urge to just leave sometimes?

fs_brat2 karma

Absolutely- I feel the same way! The US is a foreign country for me. I have yet to settle even in one place in the US for more than 4 years, so yes... I’ve left a good job and living situation just cause I get the ‘itch’ for something new.

I’ve also done several long and seemingly random road trips in the US- there’s a lot to see here!

Peak08311 karma

Did you ever go to vietnam?

fs_brat1 karma

No, I’ve never been- should I add it to my list?

scoobledooble3141591 karma

I've always had this idealized picture of being in the FS... what would you say are the pros and cons?

fs_brat1 karma

As I myself have never been a FS employee, I’m probably not the best person to answer this question. However, I would say that if you are comfortable living internationally away from your family for years at a time (and then moving very frequently), it’s definitely something to consider!

m_litherial1 karma

Were you born outside of the US and if so did you have the option of dual citizenship?

fs_brat5 karma

Unfortunately no! I was born in the US. I wish I had dual citizenship though so I could more easily escape the current American political situation...

lil-rap1 karma

I grew up the same way with parents who were also diplomats. I'm 28 years old now, perhaps we crossed paths or went to the same schools? I lived primarily in Europe and the Middle East though.

fs_brat1 karma

Could be! Where in Europe did you live?

lil-rap1 karma

Malta, Czech Republic, and Germany.

fs_brat1 karma

Nope, no overlap. I bet you have a lot of stories to tell too though!

huAmi20171 karma

Were there any athletic activities you felt you missed out on because you moved so often and to foreign countries? Any sport that you became good at that isn’t “typical American?”

Also - what is the hardest/oddest activity in America now that seems easy for everyone else but is harder because you grew up overseas?

fs_brat2 karma

I had to think about this one- probably the answer is “all athletic activities”. :) I never really got into watching sports, being unable to watch most games on TV or having parents who were really interested in them. I played a lot of soccer and basketball as a kid, but not professionally or very well at all or anything.

So, in that vein, sitting and watching sports is harder for me than most Americans, I think! I still don’t really understand Super Bowl parties...

TheRealPaella1 karma

Do you ever feel like you're unnecessarily bragging? Did you think other kids' lives weren't as interesting?

fs_brat4 karma

YES I feel like I’m bragging all the time. I have a hard time talking about my childhood in real life because it doesn’t come up naturally... and the moment you say, “when I lived in Africa...” people tend to roll their eyes and tune out.

However, I ABSOLUTELY don’t think other kids’ lives weren’t as interesting. As I mentioned in a previous answer, I’m fascinated with people who grew up in one place their whole lives- that’s as foreign to me as my experience is to them. Anyway, just because my parents did something interesting doesn’t mean I’m interesting or better than anyone else.

GrandZebraCrew1 karma

hey! Thanks for doing this AMA. I am living a similar lifestyle. One thing I worry about for my kids is keeping friendships. Have you been able to keep in touch and maintain connections with the friends you had growing up? I grew up with a parent in the Navy and felt I missed out on developing and maintaining long-lasting friendships to some extent. These days social media helps but I’m not sure how much.

fs_brat2 karma

Thanks for asking questions! Unfortunately keeping friendships is definitely one of the harder parts for me- I go a bit more in depth in one of my other answers in regards to falling out of touch. In a way, social media is definitely a godsend for people who grew up moving (like your kids) and things are only getting better in that vein. However, with all social media, it’s a tenuous connection that can feel hollow.

That being said, the positive side of this is that I have a very easy time making new friends. I also have a solid friends group wherever I’m living, even if they don’t carry over from place to place. If you’re accepting unsolicited parenting advice, I would definitely encourage your kids to stay open to new friends and encourage them to put themselves out there. Even as an introvert I push myself to make good friends quickly because that provides me with the level of social interaction that I think makes any country/home/situation great.

I hope that helps!

GrandEmployee1 karma

Did you have a hard time with romantic relationships? I mean, moving a lot through life makes falling in love with someone a bit complicated, right?

fs_brat2 karma

To be fair, I was a kid during most of the intense international moves haha. Since growing up and settling down a bit more in my college years, I was miraculously able to keep a long-term relationship going. Ultimately though it ended after a number of years due to my desire to move constantly, and my partner not sharing that drive. Another foreign service kid once told me that for people like us, “love is all about geography”, so I don’t stress about it too much. There are other people out there who aren’t intimidated by moving- it’s just the kind of baggage that needs to be announced early.

So... yes. :)

Owatch1 karma

Ever spent time in South Africa?

fs_brat2 karma

I lived right next to South Africa for three years! I’ve been to Cape Town and Johannesburg, and even found third cousins of mine in Cape Town. Is that where you’re from?

Owatch1 karma

I guess that'd put you in Botswana or Zimbabwe. How'd you like that shit internet? Think I got a record 1MBps in Johannesburg.

fs_brat4 karma

We still had dial up!! So... yeah, basically no internet. I didn’t get a smart phone until college, but now I work in tech, so I guess it didn’t completely break me haha.

Owatch0 karma

I didn’t get a smart phone until college

Wait what? Were you in the diplomatic corp 10 years ago or something? You're no longer allowed to use that passport once you're an adult (unless you're on a diplomatic mission yourself) which makes me think maybe it wasn't that long ago. In SA, most of the area had ADSL at least. Was it dial up because of the decade or are they literally that outdated?

fs_brat3 karma

Well, the smart phone thing was probably also partly my parents not thinking I needed one in high school (and me being too broke at the time to get my own). But yeah, the time frame I’m referring to as “my childhood” was 90s and early 2000s, so dial up was still a thing for a while.

Owatch1 karma

and me being too broke at the time to get my own

I can definitely agree with that. The prices on phones are mad in SA and neighboring countries. Marked up by a couple hundred when compared to the prices in the United States.

Anyways, sound interesting. Was trying to figure out if you were anywhere I'd been in the past, but guess not. Thanks for the Q&A.

Edit: Had any trouble using that IB diploma yourself? AFAIK the United States did not recognize it widely in the 90s

fs_brat3 karma

Yeah, and $1000 smartphones in the States are crazy enough...

Thanks for asking! Luckily the schools I applied to recognized it, and even gave me about a year of college credit for being full IB. I did look at a few schools that didn’t recognize it, but that was a quick filter for me not to apply for them! American schools are pretty good about it now, I think. It’s an awesome program (except for Theory of Knowledge)!

MisterRedStyx1 karma

What was it like as a kid among locals? Local kids give you a cold shoulder if you could not speak the language or say oh you wont be here long no point in making friends, etc? Kids throw stones at you because American? Couldnt travel places without security escort? Scariest place lived in?

fs_brat1 karma

Lots of questions! I’ll treat it like a lightning round.

Being a kid among locals: nerve-wracking at first but kids are amazing at seeing past differences to be friends.

Cold shoulder: I was lucky that at the international schools I went to it was common for kids only to be around for a while, so no bullying for that.

Throwing stones: not in my experience, but I did know some of the people that were involved in the incident in Libya in 2012. (That got dark).

Security escort: again, not in my experience, but my parents were never assigned to the truly scary places- I never lived in an active conflict zone. There were Marines at most of the embassy’s though, and they were always really fun to hang around with as a kid.

Scariest place: probably in Southern Africa (not South Africa). My math teacher had a home invasion and was held at knifepoint, and that was pretty scary. It was pretty common to be mugged on the street- I was lucky nothing ever happened to me, but my parents were much more cautious there.

MisterRedStyx2 karma

How about nannies or maids from the local populations? Friendliest type, Most reserved or formal, or mean? Weirdest one with quirks, does a behavior for luck or to ward off evil spirits? Of each area/country you stayed in what was the biggest lesson you learned from each? don't do this in this country, this country likes this food the most, etc.

fs_brat1 karma

Yeah, we did have some local staff as my parents moved up in positions at the embassy, but never a nanny or anything like that. I have fond memories of them all- we had labradors as I was growing up, and in a lot of cultures it’s not normal to have dogs as living household pets, but every local who ever worked in our house came to love our dogs! It’s hard not to love a Labrador. I wouldn’t say they had any weird ‘quirks’- they were just great people. :)

Biggest lesson learned? That’s a huge question (and would take many paragraphs), but I guess overall my takeaways were “just fucking do it” and “keep an open mind”. A lot of people say they like travel, have the means but then talk themselves out of it- even if you’re going solo, just fucking do it. And then when you’re there always keep an open mind and say yes to new once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

lmckl11 karma

My boyfriend grew up in a similar situation. Seems around the same age as well from what I can tell. It seems like most kids from diplomatic families end up surrounded with people/friends from similar backgrounds. Have you ever had a difficult time feeling accepted by or relating to the everyday Joe (do you get a type of dysphoria related to your geographical identity)?

fs_brat1 karma

That’s cool! From what I’m gathering from this AMA, there are a lot of us out there. TBH I actually don’t know that many people my age that went through what I did- part of the reason for this AMA!

I wouldn’t say I get dysphoria, but as a generally positive person, I do often joke about my childhood to relate to other people, therefore kind of brushing off how different it was. Now that I’ve been back in the States for a while, I’ve learned about most of the cultural things that I missed, so I hope it’s hard to tell that I didn’t grow up here.

Where did your boyfriend find all his similar-backgrounded friends?

Thopterthallid1 karma

Are you Gus Griswald?

fs_brat1 karma

No, but that’s an awesome name.

Mrsqueakyclean1 karma

I'm pretty close to finishing up an expat assignment in India with my family including 3 kids under 10.

I'm probably going to be assigned to a second expat assignment after this one.

What are the best things I can do for my kids to make the move(s) as painless as possible?

Thanks - loving reading your answers.

fs_brat1 karma

Wow, India- I’ve never been there but it’s definitely on my list.

I hope my answers are helpful! In terms of making the moves painless, there are a few things I can think of. The first is making it seem like a big adventure- if you are overwhelmingly excited about the next country, that will rub off on your kids. Keep things positive and teach your kids to be minimalists (I say from my minimalist apartment... never lost that).

My parents also encouraged us to research and investigate the next country on the list before we moved. We’d spend hours poring over maps and books, later watching movies about them (if there were any) and listening to local music. We’d constantly talk about what we were excited about, so that when the move actually came we were very caught up in all the things we were going to do.

Of course, there was always negative stuff- saying goodbye to friends, leaving schools, losing old routines. My advice in that regard is to always take your kid seriously- if they are upset about something they’re going to lose, and it seems small to you (I remember being upset about moving away from a cul de sac when I was like 8 because I loved biking around it), take them seriously about it. My parents never brushed off how hard it was to leave [big or small] things behind, and worked with us to find solutions or similar things once we got there.

Thanks for asking! Please feel free to send me a message if you have any more questions.

zimbroni1 karma

EFM here actually about to leave post (Western Europe) so my wife can take 1 year of language before our next post (Baltics). Did your parents have any deep roots in the US? And what was it like going back on Home Leave as a kid? I notice a lot of FS families either don't have strong roots in the US or they have families from all over the US so they really don't have a home base. My wife and I are both from large families in PA and they all still live in the same area. Thank you so much for doing this btw. We have a daughter and we do worry constantly about if this life is good for her and how it might affect her down the road.

fs_brat1 karma

I’m happy to do this- thanks for asking and reading! Speaking only from my own experience, the life I had as a kid has effected me in a million positive ways- even though there are some negatives about holding on to friends, they’re definitely (in my opinion) overshadowed by the benefits. I hope your daughter enjoys her time abroad!

Luckily both my parents are both from California, and most of our family is still on the West Coast. Mostly we’d spend Home Leave in Oregon, with my Grandma, which gave us a nice home base. I definitely know other families that hopped around to see everyone during Home leave and then returned exhausted. Even though we didn’t see all of my family every time, just having one familiar place to go to was a relief. My advice would be to pick as central a spot as possible, in terms of where your family is spread out, and consistently return there to give Your Home Leave some structure. Then hopefully they’ll come to you, too!

Good luck on your next assignment!

nefrany1 karma

Don’t you feel like you don’t belong anywhere? Like USA isn’t home - outside really isn’t home. My dad is an ambassador and I never lived at my actual home country and that’s how I feel - how old are you btw?

fs_brat1 karma

I felt that way when I moved back to the states for the first time- I called the feeling being an “invisible outsider”, because I sound and look American, but I’m not really. Like with many things, it does get better though- I hardly feel that way anymore. I’ve always just carried home with me, if that make sense. Like a turtle.

And I’m 24!

nefrany1 karma

Damn that’s exactly how I feel too - like everything is different everywhere. And omg you will always need to be part of the embassy group. What countries have you lived in?

fs_brat1 karma

It’s pretty neat to meet someone who understands that! As I mentioned in a previous answer, I don’t feel too comfortable getting specific about what countries I’ve lived in for my own privacy, but I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have!

1tacoshort1 karma

Probably a naive question but how do you deal with things gastro-intestinally? I like to travel a lot but I find that the only way I can guarantee that I won't get sick is to skip vegetables entirely, only eat very hot meat, drink only bottled beverages -- that sort of thing -- but these techniques just won't work long-term. I imagine that your houses (particularly in Africa) had filtered water but how were vegetables treated when you ate at home? How did you deal with eating food outside the home? Did you get sick a lot after you moved to some place and just endured it until your body caught up with the local food? Do you now have an iron stomach? Thanks!

fs_brat7 karma

Not naive at all- that’s a big concern. I definitely have gotten 50 shades of sick as a kid living in Africa especially. We did drink filtered water for sure, and we had to bleach our vegetables. I will say now I can eat literally anything and won’t throw up... having eaten bugs and meat from questionable sources for years. I rarely get sick now, outside of something minor like a cold, so I think that’s due to my exposure to the wide world of bacteria, and also the amount of immunizations I had as a kid.

tfh_jp1 karma

Which country have you lived the longest in ? And if it's the US how pointless is this AMA ?

fs_brat1 karma

I spent four years in one country in Europe, and four years in Boston for college. Overall I’ve lived longest in the US, but have jumped around states (which feels like moving to different countries sometimes).

marcoutcho1 karma

American diplomats ? Seriously ?

fs_brat1 karma

Yup! Let me know if you have any questions about my experience.

kates_busch-1 karma


fs_brat1 karma

Hehe this actually made me chuckle. If God did do that, do you think he put you on planet Earth to one day comment on a lame Reddit AMA?

Just wondering.

[deleted]-5 karma


fs_brat2 karma

I don't feel comfortable posting a photo of the inside of my passport on the Internet, but I've reached out to the mods to offer more proof and verify my identity. Thanks for taking a look!

random888123123-7 karma

Most superior race in your opinion?

fs_brat6 karma

Nope not a question that should ever be asked.