Will I feel at home in Moscow?  Regardless of how appealing a job offer is for an expat, this is naturally one of the first questions they will mull over when considering whether to accept or not.  And particularly for those adults who have lived the expat lifestyle before, Moscow is a treasure chest of culture, entertainment, and an easy place to make new friends.
But the question of being at home in Moscow for those who move as a family with children can be a bit more challenging.  Children live through this expat experience much differently than adults, and their parents understand this and deeply desire for this international experience to be a positive memory and building block in their children’s lives.
Corporations that are recruiting expat talent spend significant amounts of money to attract personnel, often for executive positions.  With these large investments in foreign staff, it is very much in the company’s interest to make their expat executive a success.  And as many company’s are discovering, it is foolish to dichotomize the executive’s success and his family’s ability to not only survive, but thrive in the expat environment.
It’s simple really.  In a classic and perhaps banal situation, if the children aren’t happy, the wife is not happy, and if she is not happy, then dad is, at best, distracted at work.  This is clearly not in the family’s nor their employer’s best interest.
As I write this, I was remembering four years ago when I was working through what would be the best lifestyle for our family in Moscow.  My oldest son, who was 8 at the time, came to me and gave me his opinion on our lifestyle and then ended his points with, “This is my childhood!”.  I thought that was remarkable insight, and I have never regretted following his advice in the matters we were facing.
But the core issue here is that there is never any good reason to sacrifice the children’s childhood for the parents’ career choices.  And it is because we believe that it is possible for a family to not only survive, but thrive in Moscow, Expat Flat is thrilled to provide not only our core real estate service, but also expat lifestyle support and consulting to make the relocation process to Moscow as smooth as possible for both individuals and families.
And with that, I was thrilled to find what was admittedly for us, a hidden gem in Moscow.  I recently became acquainted with the Swedish School in Moscow and found this introduction to become quite remarkable.
Why was a visit to this school, hidden in a quiet part of the Metro Universitet neighborhood, so impressive?  Because, as I spoke with the Director and toured the school, it was clear that not only was this high quality education, but the school profoundly understood the needs of expat families.  And with that I saw that the Swedish School had become a home for Scandinavians in Moscow.
 
4 Noteworthy Expat Points For The Swedish School In Moscow:
1) The school follows the Swedish curriculum and is staffed by qualified Swedish teachers, yet is run by a Parents’ Committee.  
It is perhaps because of the flexibility and unique solutions that are required for expat families that many Americans in Moscow have turned to home schooling.  However, I wonder if more of these American expats would reconsider this option if they could have more influence in a school’s program.
 
2) There is a weekly assembly attended by parents where the pupils present their work.
Many children of expats will adopt the expat lifestyle themselves.  I think there is a good chance that at least a couple of my four children will, and for anyone who chooses an international path, communication is perhaps the crucial component for success, almost regardless of the specific chosen career.  This weekly assembly at the Swedish school hones the children’s communication skills while building a strong sense of community.
 
3)  There is a coffee break room, not for the teachers, but for the parents.
I’m guessing there is a break room for the teachers as well, but the school is clearly proud of a comfortable room that is reserved specifically for parents to be able to enjoy a few minutes together after dropping off their children for school.  Again, this resounds of community and home and mutual support among expats that is a fundamental point for them to flourish while living in Moscow.
4) It just feels like a home.  The students and teachers seemed focused on their tasks, yet relaxed.  I had just arrived from a busy day in the usual hustle and bustle of Europe’s largest city as I toured this oasis of serenity, and perhaps felt a slight disappointment that neither I nor my children are Scandinavian.
I take off my hat to the Swedish School of Moscow as they continue to endeavor to not only provide high level education, but play their crucial part in making both the children, their parents, and their parents’ employers prosper.  As goes the children’s expat experience, so goes their parents’ success.  

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