Moving abroad with kids

Episode Description

Jana Dietsch Wingels is the author of a children’s book entitled ‘ Jamie and the Big Move .’ This book is sparked by her experience of moving out of her country, along with her two young daughters. In my conversation with Jana, she tells the important steps and measures to use when emigrating with children and how to help them cope with this life-changing experience. If emigrating seems so challenging for adults, it also impacts children who demand their parents’ attention and understanding.

 Jamie and the Big Move  is a children’s novel based on her life experience. She’s a mother of two young girls who lived in Germany. Her husband, who is originally from France, had the opportunity to work in the United States. Jana was thrilled about the idea of moving to a new country. Little did they know that their kids, particularly her youngest daughter, would struggle to cope with their decision. Jana’s youngest daughter experienced difficulties holding onto the memories she made back home that stopped her from creating new connections in the new country. The spectacular thing about Jana’s story is how she and her husband handled this difficulty with her daughter. It was a patient process of letting her kid go through the phase of acceptance and freedom to let herself make new friends and build exciting memories in a new environment.

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Episode Transcript

Jana 0:03

I was sitting in this living room on a blanket with two crying kids, people with boxes around us. Nobody would understand why are these kids so sad and crying they should be excited tomorrow they go to the US. Disneyland is there and Mickey Mouse is waiting.

Daniel 0:21

Hi everyone and welcome to Emigrant's Life podcast, where we share stories of people left their country to chase a better life. I'm Daniel De Biasi. And my guest this week is Jana, the author of the book for kids, Jamie and the Big Move, a story to empower kids coping with change. She got a D for this book from a youngest daughter, who had a hard time starting a new life when they decided to move from Germany to United States. In this episode, Jana will share our experience of immigrating with two children and tips to make the change less traumatic for the kids. You can find her book Jamie and the Big Move on Amazon. The link to get a copy and everything we discussed in this episode are in the show notes at 19. And now please enjoy my conversation with Jana.

Hi Jana, welcome to the show.

Jana 1:10

Hi, Danielle. How are you? I'm fine. How are you? I'm

Daniel 1:14

I'm very good. Thank you. I'm very good. And I'm excited to have you on the show today.

Jana 1:18

Thank you. I'm excited for being here.

Daniel 1:21

Yeah, because you. First of all, you wrote a book about emigrating or moving to a new country with kids, right?

Jana 1:29


Daniel 1:30

Awesome. And does that comes from like on your personal experience, or just just a story or you created out of your fantasy?

Jana 1:37

No, actually, it's a personal experience that led to this story, because we were moving from Germany to the US with our two kids. And then somehow during the move, we experienced some challenges that I think are typical for families moving with kids, and especially for my younger daughter who had these challenges. So I was trying to figure out how to help her. And that's how we came up with the idea of writing the book.

Daniel 2:02

Okay, and what kind of challenges are you talking about?

Jana 2:05

I think we all need to be prepared that when we leave our country or one country to move to another country, that we yes, we do leave things behind. And but we have to be prepared for that we go through different stages, like the stage of excitement, and maybe sometimes we are angry or we are sad, we think we lose something. And then we are so excited because we meet new people, and we are in this new country. And kids go through the many stages of excitement, anger, fear or grief as we the adults do. And we adults need to be prepared for these stages. So we are not surprised that suddenly we feel sad or angry because this is normal for everybody at one point to go through these stages. But we also need to prepare our kids for the idea that this might come but that they're they have a way to overcome these challenges.

Daniel 3:01

Yes, because one of the thing, correct me if I'm wrong, but one of the thing is, he was an adult, you decide to leave the country and move to a new one. And you got your own reasons to do that. But maybe the kids don't see it the same way. Because they maybe don't want to leave, they don't have the same reason they don't see it. And then the same way. So maybe for them is even more challenging because they don't, they don't want to do it. They just do it because you as an adult, as a parent, you made a decision for them. Right?

Jana 3:28

Exactly. We as adults, we decide, yeah, we are going to the US for a couple of years. And we let our kids now and we are so excited and happy. And we expect them to be as excited and happy as we are for this big move. And hopefully they feel the same way as we do and looking forward to this new experience. And it's important also to let them be said at one point and be happy. We cannot expect of our kids to be as happy as we are all the time they are allowed also to be angry with us maybe because we didn't ask them for permission, right? We decided to change their lives to turn their lives upside down and they had no choice.

Daniel 4:10

Okay, let's start a little bit from the beginning. So why you decided to leave Germany and move to the US?

Jana 4:16

This is because my husband, who is French, by the way, but we used to live the last couple of years in Germany. So he worked for this German company. And this company asked him Hey, would you be willing to go to the US with your family for a couple of years and to work for our company abroad? So he came home and he was telling me and I was so excited immediately I let my boss know, okay, I'm quitting my job. We are going to the US, goodbye. And then like a couple of days later, we were telling the kids so that's how we arrived in the US.

Daniel 4:53

So and because you've wrote a book about it, I guess your kids didn't take it too well?

Jana 4:59

Actually If they did, I would have expected the older one who was nine by the time of the move to have more problems with it because of her age, because she might realize more about, okay, I leave one country, one school, some friends, family, and I would have expected her to have more struggles adapting to the new situation. But actually it was the other way around. It was the younger one that is so worryless usually and happy and not worrying too much about anything who had the big challenge, because I realized at some point that she was thinking, I cannot full heartedly live my experience in the US because somehow she left her heart back in Germany, she was thinking, maybe I do not have permission to find a new best friend here because my best friend back home will be disappointed. Or if I learned this new language, and I learned how to write and read in English, I might lose my German language. Or if I feel too much at home, here, Germany will not any longer be my home, it was very difficult for her to understand that you can have two homes and you can have two best friends. And you can only win another language, you do not lose your old language or your old home. both languages, both cultures, both new friends, they all define you. And there is space for all those new things also in your heart does not mean if you add a new thing in your heart or to your character that you will lose another thing there is enough space.

Daniel 6:43

Yeah, there. Yeah, yes, yes, you're right. Yes, you're right. But at the same time, I don't know, I kind of agree with your with your with your daughter. My experience now that I've been living abroad for a few years, I kind of agree with you with your daughter, because not completely but like I kind of understand that I think this kind of like a experience when you move moving abroad and you leave this kind of experience, they kind of take you if you grow as a person, like you wouldn't do if you stay in your own country, especially if you come from a small town like, like I was. So I think that because now I grow as a person, I can have less connection with my oldest friend because we have less in common because I don't know I lived more experience and I more open minded that having like a deep conversation now with my friends back in Italy is getting kind of like a harder, so you kind of like lose that kind of connection. Because you you grow as a person more than they did, because they didn't leave but they did have these kind of experiences. I don't know you do things in the same way or no?

Jana 7:50

Yeah, I completely agree with you. Because it's I think this is this happens to everybody during everybody's life, you, you evolve in one way, for example, you have a dog, suddenly you meet more people having a dog and you have deeper conversations about dogs with those friends of yours that also has pets, whereas those who never had any pets, you will not talk about them deeply about dogs, or puppies, or and then you move on some then you have kids and some friends have kids at the same time others have not. And somehow you lose. As you say I agree with you, you lose some connections to friends that evolves otherwise, and you go along with those that take the same path as you do. And when you go abroad, then the friends of yours that also went abroad, more understand you or you understand them and you can communicate about those things with those friends, whereas those who stayed in the same village for their whole life, you will not have the same conversations with those ones. So I totally agree with you.

Daniel 8:56

Yeah, I like the analogy of the having the dog makes totally sense.

Jana 9:02

I don't have a dog so I never stopped for people's dogs to talk with them. Maybe I should start to. I don't know.

Daniel 9:08

Yeah, I noticed that having a dogs sometime it makes it easier to make new friends. Cause everybody loves dogs.

Jana 9:13

Yeah, I agree.

Daniel 9:16

So how's your daughter now? Did she change her mind? Does she have two best friends now?

Jana 9:22

Yeah, she did. She very quickly met another girl here. And this girl wanted to be her best friend but she would not give herself permission immediately to feel the same. Actually, she needed my daughter needed to go back to Germany after one year in the United States. We decided to go back for spring break see the friends and the family. It was the first time that we went back. And this was very important for her because then she was prepared to have the idea. Okay, I will go back but I will only stay for two weeks and then I will go again to the US and I told her when we go back. Make sure that this time you take your heart with you, you don't leave it in Germany this time. So and this was so important for her somehow this may click in her mind, she changed her mindset. And when she came back to the US, she was ready to make new friends here, go to the classroom and be full hearted students for this new language and everything she needed this experience of going back and forth.

Daniel 10:24

That's awesome.

Jana 10:25

Yeah, I'm happy for her.

Daniel 10:27

Yeah, no, totally. And she's now then happy to be in the US? She's happy to have a nice experience and how she's doing with the language, which is completely fluent in English?

Jana 10:36

Oh, yeah. You know, I, after almost three years, I still have my weird German accent and I might never lose it. Maybe. Yeah, but my kids, they didn't speak any word of English. When we arrived here, they could only say, Hello, my name is, that was it. And we just threw them into the public schools in the morning and said, okay, we will pick you up at 3pm. Bye, bye, have a nice day. And after the first couple of weeks, every time we would pick them up, they said, Oh, the kids are so nice and the teachers are so nice. Everybody is so open. And but we don't understand anything. But after I would say three, four months without any other language lessons, maybe once a week, they had one hour with a special teacher explaining them some things in English, but that was it. After three, four months, they understood everything. And they started to speak and after six months, they spoke fluently American English with this real American accent and everything. So now after almost three years, you would say they are real americans, even they speak differently to me as a German, then to their grandparents who are French then to American friends they use really this American way of talking about a thing that I am not able to do because I'm not a child that can adapt that easily to this culture and kind of speaking, like becoming a chameleon, you know, that sneaks in all the cultures and blends in perfectly. My kids can do this. I might be too old. I try to but I'm a chameleon that still kind of keeps her color.

Daniel 12:20

Yeah, I know their feeling really, I wish I was a kid as well. When I when I learned the language it definitely took me more than six months even to understand whatever they were saying to me. It's just I left Italy with the same probably the same level as your your daughters pretty much.

Jana 12:36

Wow, that's courageous. But you were already an adult?

Daniel 12:40

I was Yes, I was. But yeah, I guess in my mind, I thought it would take me only a couple of weeks to learn the language, not like a fully, but I thought I could just copy what other people would say. And that was just totally my mind with that. I don't know why I was thinking that probably because when I went to England, like a few years before I decided to leave Italy. I went to England for a couple of days. And I thoughtnd actually I felt that I was speaking their accent even the way to say hi. Because it was the first time I will say hi, there was no 'h' it was like 'i' and then after a few days of just like a feeling hear myself saying like a properly like a high with a with the 'h' like an English or like a really like a native English speaker. So I thought if I could learn so much in a couple of days, I will be fluent or I could speak two languages in a couple of weeks. I could just repeat what they're saying and just use that technique to have a conversation but the reality was way different. But in my head, I was like yeah, okay, I can learn English in a couple of weeks.

Jana 13:39

Yeah. Maybe we can maybe some people can do it quicker than others, or with less keeping their accent than others. But for grownups, it's a challenge to get rid of the accent. For kids. It's so easy. They I think they are not fully developed yet in their accents so they can pick up different accents easily.

Daniel 14:02

Yeah, no, no, I agree with you. Even when I was when I was when I was a kid, I was going on holiday somewhere else I would stay there for a longer period of time, I could pick their accent that was speaking the same language styling, but on a different accent. And just like being there for a month, then I will go back to that accent for a few weeks. And then I will just go back to my own accent. I totally I totally get that. And so you say that you've been here for like three years now. So you extended your period, you extended your stay in the US?

Jana 14:35

Normally we should stay until next summer. So it would be three and a half years in all. Yeah, because we were sent here on a contract we knew we will be sent and we will be sent back.

Daniel 14:46

Okay. But before you say the period was like a couple of years and then you extended this period?

Jana 14:51

Oh, in the beginning they said three to four years so we weren't sure. But we very quickly asked please can we stay instead of three years for three years and a half years because we wanted the kids to finish one school year and not again to move in the middle of the school year, which we did the first time we, we moved in January. So it was really in the middle of the school year. And my younger daughter, who was a first grader at that time, and it's in first grade in Germany, where you learn how to write and to read, she had just learned the first half of the alphabet. And then we moved. And so she had to learn like the second half of the alphabet here in the US. But in the US, they already learn all the letters one year earlier than we do in Germany. So she was expected to know all the alphabet and to read basic words, which she could not do, nor she could speak or understand the language. So this was a very big challenge for her to pick up.

Daniel 15:48

Oh, yeah, I imagine.

Jana 15:50

So I would recommend to families, if ever you have the choice, maybe moving during summer break makes more sense.

Daniel 15:58

Yeah. And totally you're right. And so when would you want to maybe tell me more about the challenges that you have to face with the movement with your kids?

Jana 16:08

Well, if you move as a single person, I believe you have to do all the paperwork only for yourself. Whereas when you want to move as a family, you have to make the paperwork for all the fall of four of us asking for a visa for all the four of you. Yeah, do you need plane tickets for for every member of the family, so maybe it's a lot more work. And also, I believe, for my husband, it's a lot more responsibility. I think if you move as a young person, not married, not having a family, yet you are only responsible of your own life so if you mess up with your move, because you think, yeah, I will do the great life in this other country, get myself a job. And if it doesn't work out, and well, then you are, then you can change your plans, and you can move again somewhere else or take another job. But when you move with kids, and you have to make sure they have a good start in school. I think it's good to have if you can, not everybody can right? Have some stability in your move. I think it's a big responsibility as a parent to move your whole family and try to make sure everybody is doing well where you go.

Daniel 17:25

Yeah, no, totally even because I mean, if for you, you said that you have to move during like the school here. So did you have to book or enroll your kids in school before you move to the US?

Jana 17:38

Ah, no, we didn't have to do this before. But we were so fortunate as this German company sent us over here, they did send my husband and me over here, like in November. So we could be here for one week visit different schools with a person who would show us around so she would book the appointments for us in the different schools. I was visiting the schools with this person, I could ask questions to the principal about how do they do this in this school? How do they handle that. And then we this person also organized visits for us to visit different houses that were for rent so we could choose the house, the school, were first you choose your schools, as I learned them here in the US, and then you choose the house that is close to this school where you want your kids to go to. And this was very convenient. So my husband and I could set up all this before we made the kids move to the US. But we were lucky because this company arranged it for us.

Daniel 18:41

Oh, yeah, no, that's a big help. So you went there a couple of weeks before and then you went back to pick up your kids or they just flew by themselves?

Jana 18:49

No in November, we only came for one week. Then we flew back. Then my husband continued working in Germany until December. I think it was the first of December that the movers came and they picked up all our stuff in our house. So our house was empty. By the first of December, we lived in an empty house on an air mattress and we kept some plates and one casserole in the kitchen to cook during the whole December. Christmas we spent at my parents in law's place because they had furniture right and they could cook Christmas dinner for us and have a tree. And then the first of January my husband left for the US because he had to start his new job. So he would stay in a hotel for a couple of weeks. While I was still in Germany in January, me with the kids because I was working as a school teacher and I could not quit my job in the middle of whenever of the year I had to finish the semester, which was the end of January. So I had to work in January. My kids continued their semester in their school. And then the end of January, the last day of school came they had to pick up their their how do you say the little paper where the grades are written on. And after that I arrange playdates for them, each of them to go to their best friend for the last time, spend the afternoon there in Germany while I was cleaning up the house and giving the keys to the people that would take over our house, they would the evening I would pick up my kids from their playdates both were crying. And the new people were already moving in our empty house. And I was sitting in this living room on a blanket with two crying kids, people with boxes around us. Nobody would understand why these kids are sad and crying. They should be excited tomorrow, they go to the US Disneyland is there, and Mickey Mouse's waiting. And then yeah, and the next morning, I flew with the kids to the US and my husband picked us up. And we were supposed to be in this house with all our things because the container had two months to arrive here, right? But the container wasn't here. So we arrived here in an empty house again, my husband had arranged for us to have some blow up mattresses again, so we could sleep and a colleague of him gave him a camping table and camping chairs and some plates so we could sit and eat. And then we know next day already, we brought them to the new school. And then luckily, the movers came and they the boxes and the beds and the kids toys and everything. And then they started to feel at home.

Daniel 21:30

Oh, wow. Was it like a crazy couple of months?

Jana 21:33

Yeah, it was. So we already knew know that the day where we will go back, I think we will do the same. I will go first. This time the other way around, I will go first with the kids one month early, while this house will in the US will already be empty. Stay with the kids at my parents in law's place see family and friends everything. So they can be so happy and refuel their batteries with family life that they missed for so long. And then my husband will join us later and hopefully the container might be a little faster this time so they can find their teddy bears or whatever back in Germany or wherever we go. We don't know where we are going.

Daniel 22:15

Yeah, no, I mean, I guess it's kind of like a trauma for for a kid living like living in an empty I was going to new places and other empty house and no having your own stuff. Guess its a little bit of a trauma, isn't it?

Jana 22:27

It is. But my husband was so clever that he somehow we decided that okay, we have Christmas before we left for the US at my parents in law's place. But Santa cannot bring so many big presents, because how can we all bring them in our little suitcase as the container was already gone to the US. So they only had some little present. But they knew Santa might had come to the new house in the US knowing they would come. And so when they arrived here, my daughter she wanted to have this huge American teddy bear. You know, that's that is cuter than a human. And when she arrived here, and her room was empty, no furniture and nothing yet, but this big teddy bear from Santa with a little letter for her from Santa was waiting for her was already there. And she's always She doesn't remember our move as from one empty house to another empty house. She remembers our move to I arrived in this new house and this big teddy bear was waiting for me. So she has a positive memory.

Daniel 23:33

Yeah, that's awesome. That's it was pretty clear from from your husband?

Jana 23:36


Daniel 23:37

And one question because I mean, dude, maybe it's different from every country. But for the US kids, do you need like a, a special permit to enroll your kids at school? Or you can just take because I guess even then they should be on a visa. They were like on a student visa? Or they're fine? Do you need a student visa to be enrolled in the school? What's the process for that?

Jana 24:02

I think the school just needed to see our address. So I think we showed them our lease for the house, where it was written that we do rent this house and this is our official address. Maybe you need another document that makes your address official, like gas bill or whatever. And what was very important for kids, their vaccines needed to be up to date, otherwise, they could not go to school. So we had a whole checklist of which vaccine should be up to date. And then I took the kids to the pediatrician with their little vaccine books back from Europe, which was very confusing, because the dates in Europe and in the US are written the other way around. And so they all messed up and they wanted to give them vaccines that they had already had, but not once that they should have. But at one point they were up to date and ready to go fully to school.

Daniel 24:54

So the only requirement was to be living in near the school. It was this the only requirements and the vaccine, nothing related to the immigration?

Jana 25:02

I don't think we had to show them the visa, we had to fill out a lot of paperwork with our names. Maybe we had to mention our visa statutes also in this documents, I believe, but I don't remember showing them the visa, maybe.

Daniel 25:17

Okay. Another thing because you said that you pick your school first and then the house does that means that to need to have a house, like I know, in a range distance from the from the school to be enrolled in a school?

Jana 25:30

I think that's how it was in the old days. But nowadays, at least where we live, now, they made it a school of choice. I don't know if that's the case everywhere in the US, but in Michigan it is. So you don't necessarily now need to live very close to your school. So there, they have certain number of places, always for children that do not live on the island, for example, where we live, but they come from off the island every day, their parents would drive them to the school.

Daniel 25:57

Okay, because I remember I have a friend in New Zealand that they moved to a new place because they wanted their kids to go to a specific school because it was a better school. So they needed to physically move to a new house to be able to take their kids to their school. That's why I was asking that question.

Jana 26:12

Yeah, at least here in Michigan, where we live now this is not the case anymore. But it was like this a couple of years ago. That's what I heard.

Daniel 26:20


Jana 26:21

Maybe it's important to know also, when you move as a family, my husband gets his visa is accepted first, and the three of us we are depending on his visa. So if ever he would lose his job, for example, all the four of us, we would need to move back immediately. Because I have I do not have a visa that allows me to make my family be dependent on me.

Daniel 26:46

Okay, so your visa is connected to his visa? And what kind of visa do you have?

Jana 26:51

We have the L1 and the L2. Which one do I have?

Daniel 26:56

Does that allow you to work in the US?

Jana 26:58

No, mine does not allow me to work in the US. But I can ask for a work permit, then I need to pay how much? I think it's 800 US dollars, that I then need to pay and ask for my work permit, then they will give me my work permit. And it's valid for two years. And then I can potentially work and my husband's visa allows him to work for his company in the US. But it does not allow him to switch companies with the same visa for example.

Daniel 27:28

Okay, I think that's kind of fairly common when you get like a work permit. Even even I when I moved to different countries, the first visa they gave me that work permit was connected to the company I was working for so I could only work for that company. If I wanted to change company I needed to change visa.

Jana 27:45


Daniel 27:46

And is there anything else you want to talk about? Tips that you can give to other parents that wants to move abroad with the kids. What's the main thing that maybe helped you moving with the kids or the things that you did the most challenging things to do you had to face?

Jana 28:00

I think what was very important for us, before we moved was we wanted to be clear that we would have a good health insurance here because we come from a system in Europe where everybody has health insurance, and we never worried about this. But coming to the US, we wanted to be clear that all the things that are important for us really are covered. So until very late, we were not sure if we would really move because my husband told his company if our older daughter who is born with a disability, she has cerebral palsy, and we need some health care services for her which might not be covered in the usual health insurance. As long as these are not specifically covered for her, she will not take the contract and we will not move. So in the end, they arranged for a special arrangement for her with his health insurance. And now she's covered for everything and we are very happy. It's It's similar to, for us the health care system that we experienced here now is similar to the one that we were used to in Europe. But that was important for us.

Daniel 29:09

You know, I bet even like a foreigner in a normal circumstances you want to have the health care covered, especially having kids that get six more more often than an adult. And you never know plus it got more responsibility that if you're other now moving on your own, if something goes wrong it's solely on you, but if you have a family you want to be prepared that said you have everything covered.

Jana 29:32

Yeah. Also what was kind of tricky, we would have imagined it being easier was finding a car because once you arrive here, you need a car because otherwise you get not around at least where we live because we do not live in a big city where we would have public transportation or anything. So if you don't have a car you cannot even go to your school if it's wintertime because there's so much snow. And this was a challenge because they have other conditions for people coming from abroad than for people living in this country since a long time, because it all depends, I believe on your credit history that you already had in the past, if you get certain advantages, yes or no, and being a foreigner coming from, like zero in this new country, you do not have anything. So, like, for example, I think leasing a car, which would have made sense for us, knowing that we would only stay for a couple of years would have been very, very expensive, because we are coming from abroad, and not from the US.

You don't have the credit history.

Yeah, also some other things related to the bank account, we could not the money was in the bank account, what we could not take it to buy things because our non not existing American credit history would not allow us to do these withdraws. But by time very quickly, they increase your credit history and you have access to your own money, basically. But you need to show that you spend it actually which is crazy, but that's how it works.

Daniel 31:12

Oh, and how did you guys manage to get a house that's for the company that your husband was working for? Because that could be another challenge to get like a lease or rent house in the US if you don't have any credit history?

Jana 31:23

That's true, but we had to guarantee of the company.

Daniel 31:27

Okay. And a question, I mean, you've been in the US for three years now?

Jana 31:32

Yeah, almost three years.

Daniel 31:34

And you said you already told me that you're planning to move somewhere else. Is that because your husband, the contract with your husband is, is going to a due date, or because you guys want to just try and something new?

Jana 31:47

Well, the contract of my husband will end at one point. So at this point, we will have to move. But we would like to move someplace else, and not to move back to Germany, or where we have already left for a couple of years, because we like the adventure and the experience to move forward. So before COVID, we were hoping to be able to move someplace else like to China, for example, or like experience, we would have like to experience a really new culture that we've never lived in to see how do the people over there live? And what's their mindset? How do they see life? And what's the language like maybe learn some Chinese, you know, try all their food. But now the situation due to the economical impact of COVID, I think makes these possibilities to go abroad more difficult, because maybe it's more difficult to get visas. It's more difficult for for companies to send people abroad because it's very costly. So we will see how this works. But this would have been our dream, and our older daughter is still very motivated. She's insisting everyday on but can we please go to China? Even if the company doesn't send us? Can we just go buy our own because I am maybe still young enough to learn Chinese without an accent? If we wait a couple of more years, I will learn Chinese and I will have an accent and I don't want this. So she would be very excited about this.

Daniel 33:20

How about the youngest?

Jana 33:21

Or the youngest. She would also like to go to China. But first she would like to make a stop in Europe, see her grandparents and then move on to China. And then she would like to eat dumplings every day.

Daniel 33:33

Yeah, I think China could be I mean, I don't know, I can't imagine like being a kid and having be so young and really experienced so many different kinds of cultures and know so many languages that when they're going to be grew up that would be like a such a, I don't know, high end of the other people on the same age, it would be crazy.

Jana 33:51

Yeah, true. We will see that when time comes.

Daniel 33:56

Yeah, totally.

Jana 33:57

I have I also have to say like for my husband and me, we like to live in a country other than the country where he is from so France or the country where I am from Germany. So we like the lot to live in Switzerland, for example, the two of us because this is like a neutral country also the US for us is kind of neutral, because we are both new to this culture. So we we can both take the same path and it's new for us. And we observe the same thing things and we find them interesting or sometimes funny or wow. And if whereas if we live in his home culture or in mine, one of us only is the foreigner and then I cannot stand if he is starting to criticize some German particularities because I feel offended very quickly. I don't know why. And he feels offended very quickly if I observe things that I don't find normal in France. So for us, it's better to be in a third culture.

Daniel 35:02

Yeah, that's actually a really good point that you made. Because yeah, yes, you're right. I think given your role both in a new environment, I think you can have, I don't know if this is the right way to say, but unless you kind of like on the same on the same level, nobody has an advantage of cultural advantage or the language advantage of, because when you are in your country, maybe you got your friends, your family behind like, I don't know, give you like this kind of advantage, which is, okay, as a couple is not a good way to put it. But I can't find the right terminology to actually say it. But I think you kind of feel or have this kind of advantage if you're in your country of your part and is their own country and being in a neutral zone, as you call it. I think you made a good there.

Jana 35:47

Yeah. And I think it's it also changes for the kids because as long as we lived in Germany, for example, especially for the younger ones, who, who doesn't really have a lot of memories about her life before in Switzerland, whereas the older one still remembers a lot of things of Switzerland. The auto one always said, I'm German and French. But I used to live in Switzerland. And now I live in the US. And the younger one, she was always saying, I'm German. Oh, I also French. They are now I live in the US. But she felt way more German. However, she's both it's just the fact that we spent more years in my home culture that in my husband's one that she considers herself more German than French and this offense, my husband, so living in the US, now France, and Germany has so far away that she considers herself both again.

Daniel 36:43

That's awesome. Um, let's talk about your book. What's the title of your book?

Jana 36:47

It's called Jamie and the Big Move, a story to empower kids coping with change.

Daniel 36:53

is Jamie, the name of your daughter?

Jana 36:55

No, Jamie is the name of the person in the book. It's the main character. It's a girl and my daughter thinks Jamie is her. So she gets very offended if I say no, Jamie is Jamie because she's convinced Jamie's her. Because in the first book, Jamie and the big move, Jamie tells her story. So in the second book, she also feels like tells her story because she's very caring about nature and protecting the environment. And that's what the second book is about. And the third book is more about Jamie's brother Tom, who is living with cerebral palsy and now needs to figure out how he can win a big race and run as fast as the others. However, his leg doesn't want to do what he wants to do. And now she feels like but this is more of the story of my sister. So actually, Jamie can be everyone.

Daniel 37:46

Okay, that's good. Yeah, you have three books already,

Jana 37:49

Jamie and the big move is the first book of the Jamie series. So for now, we have three books. We are launching the third book, actually, in the next couple of weeks. And then we will see what the fourth Jamie adventure will bring. Right?

Daniel 38:03

Yeah, it's gonna be all series of Jamie's adventures.

Jana 38:07


Daniel 38:08

What's the what's the story of the Jamie's and the Big Move?

Jana 38:13

It's the story about a family where the parents come home one day, and they announced to their both their kids, Tom and Jamie Hey, we are going to move to to Spain because of the job of the dad. And they are very excited because it's a new challenge for the dad with his new job. And the mom is very excited because she's looking forward to go to Spain. The brother is actually angry only and Jamie mostly is feeling very sad and fearful because she's feeling her heartbreaking. And now, when the story goes on, she's realizing how attached she is to all the things in her home country. And like fear comes around the corner and, and tells Jamie what she should be fearful of like, I assure you want to learn this new language in this new country because maybe you will forget your old language? And you're sure you want to go to this new school because maybe the lessons that you will learn they're not the same though, than the ones that you are supposed to learn in your home country or are you sure you can go there because you will leave your friend here and you might never find a new friend over there. And so Jamie, more and more the story goes on. She's giving away pieces of her heart because she's thinking I will give a piece of my heart to my best friend so she can keep it and I will give one piece of my heart to my teacher because then somehow I stay in my old school and I will lay one piece of my heart on our street. So somehow she feels like she can stay home by putting all the her heart pieces in her home country but then she realizes that all her family is moving on. being excited to this new country. Even her brother is starting to be excited now and she lost herself. Because with each heart piece, she's losing a bit of her. And now she has to figure out how she can also be part of the big move but she's fortunate because then excitement comes around the corner, grabs her and figures out with her away, how to move forward without losing herself.

Daniel 40:24

But she go back and get all of the pieces?

Jana 40:27

Yes, sure. But I cannot tell you everything because then you will know the end.

Daniel 40:33

Yeah, fair enough. Let's not spoil the book. And you told me that there was the the idea came from from your daughter from your youngest daughter, right?

Jana 40:43

Yes, it's, it's basically her story, because that's how she felt she felt like she cannot move forward to this new country, because somehow she has to stay with her heart in the old country.

Daniel 40:55

Okay, so what's the first book that you have ever written?

Jana 40:58

I've already written book backs back in, in Europe. So I wrote one which is published in German and French, it's for premature families, actually, who experience their baby to be born way too early. And now, it's a story actually to empower these family and these kids, because maybe they're there surprisingly, early birth was a traumatic event for the family. But these kids, I'm convinced they should not grow up knowing that they're coming into this world was maybe a bad thing. They should know that they it's a good thing. And it's a colorful story that shows them actually as heroes with all the challenges these kids need to overcome, and makes a happy family in the end. And this risk publisher published this book in German and French. And then I made a second book, inspired by my first daughter, who has cerebral palsy. And he told me, how come everybody is winning gold medals by doing sports, but kids like me, not being able to run very fast. We never win gold medals. However, we have to practice so much. We have to do physical therapy every day doing stretch as practicing with our braces, we should have a gold medal. Why don't you invent a story for this? And so I invented the story. First, it's in German.

Daniel 42:22

That's awesome. And all of these stories are are like a book for kids with beautiful pictures and like a short story for kids, right?

Jana 42:31

Yeah, it's usually a lot of colorful pictures with a happy end sure with a very important message. And not so many written words. So it's short to read, parents can read the stories to the kids, kids can look at the pictures, or as the kids start to read by themselves, they can read these books by themselves without being overwhelmed by too many words.

Daniel 42:55

Awesome. And if somebody wants to get the book where they can find where can where they can find your books,

Jana 43:02

They can find my books on Amazon. So I sent you the link of my Amazon authors page. And if you click my name, you can basically find all the books I've written, you can order the JME books, you can also have them as Kindle or paperback. So every couple of months, we are programming the Kindle books to be a free download, then I will let you know. And then people can download the books on their devices. Or they can if they prefer to ever read a book with paper, you can always order it as a paperback and then has to read a book at home and read it at nighttime.

Daniel 43:37

Or you even sent me like a nice beautiful video about the making the behind the scene of the book that I think I found was it was it was beautiful with your with your daughter telling the story.

Jana 43:47


Daniel 43:48

And that is on your YouTube channel. Right?

Jana 43:50

Exactly. We have a YouTube channel also where we put the book trailers so you can have a glimpse into the books because you can see the pictures and basically get to know the story and see the illustrations. And then we always make a second video, a behind the scenes video where we show how did we come up with the idea. And usually I employ my kids for this videos because their English is so much better than mine. They are just reading the book with no accent and so they're very helpful for these videos.

Daniel 44:23

Awesome. Do you have anything else you want to add? Other no other things that we maybe we didn't discuss that you might want to tell the parents that wants to move with kids?

Jana 44:32

No other than when you move with kids, you might want to be organized in the way of find a house where you think you will stay for a certain time, not make them move to move again to move again, if that's possible. Secondly, yeah, choose a good school for them. Maybe you can go see the schools before you choose where you want your kids to go to. Third, prepare them that this move will be as well, very exciting, as it will also be sometimes fearful or epic challenge. But make sure that as a family, you are always there to support each other and that no one of this family is moving alone. We are always moving and going through this adventure together so we can help each other.

Daniel 45:31


Jana 45:32

And don't be afraid. I think moving to another country, each member of the family with the right mindset can only win, not lose. But it's important to have the right mindset.

Daniel 45:45

Yeah, no, totally. And another question, and I should have asked you before. How did you tell your kids that you guys were going to move to a new country?

Jana 45:59

We were telling them, Hey, could you imagine living in another country than Germany? And if yes, what country would this be? And we were discussing like this. And they were saying, Oh, I would like to live in France for a couple of years. So I can be here. I don't know, learn better French, I would like to go to French school. I would like to live in China because I love dumplings. And I would like to eat them every day. Or I would like to move to the US because Disneyland and Mickey Mouse's there. And then we said, Oh, you're so lucky, because we just got the opportunity to go to America and go to Disneyland and your dad can work there. And then they were very excited. We turned it somehow.

Daniel 46:47

That's awesome. Imagine like if they were saying, No, I don't want to move. I don't want to move. I don't want to go anywhere else. I want to stay I want to stay here. That would be much harder to bring the news, right?

Jana 46:58

Yes, I think so. And maybe that's what I'm fearing for a future move. Because I could imagine, imagine we would move back from the US to Germany and stay there again for a couple of years. And then the company would say us when our kids are maybe 16 or 14. Okay, now you have the opportunity to go to Japan for three years. Would our kids at age 16 still be excited? Or at that age? What they say now I have a boyfriend. Now I have I don't know what now I'm preparing my high school graduation. I don't want to move. So we will see.

Daniel 47:36

Yeah, that's much true here. Imagine if you I mean, if you're going to China, that will be easier, because both of them. They're pretty excited to go to China. Maybe they're not as much as excited to move back to Germany after being in the US.

Jana 47:50

Maybe we will see that next summer. Right? Yes, but definitely be a challenge to move back to. Yes. But definitely it's easier to move with younger kids than to move with older kids. Because the first time we moved was from Switzerland to Germany and the kids were one and three and it was no problem at all. For anybody in the family. Nobody would ask any question no problems wouldn't miss friends. No. But the second move then at age seven and nine was more of a challenge. But still it went smooth. And I have the feeling that this is the age where our kids could whine a lot from this move, because this is the age where they can fully experience everything that's going on here. Also being aware of the differences in the cultures in the language, but picking up the language with no accent still, and I'm sure they will never lose this language. Once we go back to Europe, I'm sure they will not lose their American English that they learned here. Whereas if you move with a kid at age one, one to four for three years to the US, it might learn English but will the English stay? Hopefully.

Daniel 49:02

Hopefully. Unless you move to another country where they speak English but with a different accent. For example, if you move to to England they might pick British accent.

Jana 49:11

Oh, I would love for my kids to have a British accent. I love the British accent actually.

Daniel 49:16

Everybody likes the British accent.

Jana 49:18

Yeah, it's very charming. I would love to have one. I don't know if this will happen one day.

Daniel 49:24

Yeah. And yeah, I mean, they are gonna have so much especially if you managed to move to the to the to Asia and immerse them with the Asian culture, which is completely different from our culture, like European culture or American culture. That could be at the age, it could be something that could be, I don't know, life changing for that will be like its something that they stay with them with them for the rest of their life. This is such a big thing. It's massive and I'm so jealous for your daughters.

Jana 49:55

I think I think moving to another country in another culture is a big gift that you can make for your kids because they pick up and experience things that would they would never have experienced otherwise. And they, these parts can become part of their character for the rest of their lives. So it's a gift.

Daniel 50:14

Yeah, totally. They might not see it at this age, or they will, they will understand they will see when they will be older, I guess.

Jana 50:22

I'm sure. Oh, they already see it now. So I'm quite confident.

Daniel 50:27

Yeah, also, you're doing a great job. And thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview.

Jana 50:33

Thanks for having me.

Daniel 50:35

My pleasure. And I will put everything that your links, how to get your book and everything on in the show notes for people that wants to get a copy. They can find everything in the show notes on that Thank you. Thank you very much, Jana.

Jana 50:50

Thank you very much, Daniel.

Daniel 50:51


Jana 50:52


Daniel 50:54

Thank you so much for tuning in this week. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcast and it will be great if you could leave us a review. You can find the show notes with the links and everything we discussed in this episode at You can find us on Instagram and Twitter at Emigrant's Life and on Facebook at Emigrant's Life podcast. If you want to get on the show, you can visit One more thing before we wrap this up. Every weekend we share our story of a famous immigrant people like Albert Einstein, Levi Strauss and Elon Musk. Our goal is to show that emigrants have always played a crucial part of the growth on the country they moved in. We hope that through the stories we can bring more awareness and reduce the discrimination against immigrants. If you want to help us spreading the voice, go to and share your favorite story. Last weekend we covered Nikola Tesla, the Serbian inventor well known for his contribution to many technology we still use today. Thanks again for listening. Talk to you in the next one. Ciao!