A family finds a new school and a new home
Moving to a foreign country is tough. There’s the new neighbourhood, the new language and, if there are children, new schools.
The Woodhour family moved from New Jersey to Gentofte two years ago and experienced all of the growing pains and cock-ups that come along with the moving boxes and new address.
“Everything is new when you move to a foreign country,” Liz Woodhour told Villabyerne. “Even orange juice can be tough to identify.”
Community via the campus
A major connection to their new community came when the Woodhours enrolled their three sons into Copenhagen International School (CIS).
Their younger son Will goes to the Hellerup location and the two older boys, Charlie and Tom, go to the CIS City Campus in Østerbro.
“The parents at the school have been a lifeline, both practically and socially,” said Woodhour. “There is a group of volunteers who are ready to help newcomers from day one.”
Woodhour has worn out the support group’s brochures learning the small practical details of living in a new country “like converting Fahrenheit into Celsius”.
CIS figures in the Woodhours’ social life as well as its academic pursuits.
“At least once a month there is an event organised by the parents,” she said. “Picnics on the beach, Halloween, formal events, women’s and men’s nights out. It’s a long list.”
Woodhour said that the parents of children attending private schools often live in different areas, and the events are an important way of bringing people together.
“The school community is unique,” she said. “Most of us are in the same situation, having moved to a new country without extended family or friends. This makes us much more open to meeting new people, and there is a strong sense of solidarity.”
A sense of freedom
Woodhour said that the sense of freedom the family has found in Denmark, and at CIS, is a breath of fresh air.
“This morning my youngest demanded he be allowed to ride to school on his own,” she said. “It was the first time and a big step for me to let go. It would have never happened in New Jersey.”
Woodhour said that her older boys have also become accustomed to the sense of safety found in Denmark.
“They can take the train into the city and come home later at night,” she said. “That will probably be the most difficult part of our life for them to let go of when we return to New Jersey.”
Another reality that expat students face is that families come and go often and rapidly.
“Six weeks ago I had to comfort my son when his best friend left school,” she said. “Fortunately, you can keep in touch with social media and there are always new parents and children who join the school. You learn to be open to change.”