Middle-class mothers who go to the United States to accompany them: throw money, hold groups, and gamble on education

First of all, the title is still that title. 🙂

In recent years, more and more mothers have accompanied their young children to study abroad. When “spending money and chicken babies” has become a routine, the mothers who accompanied them found out that there were more problems waiting for them.

Choose a school, choose a place of residence

Faye’s husband is a foreigner, and her two children have been attending the best school for foreign children in Shanghai since they were 4 years old. Since the curriculum and atmosphere of the school for foreign children are exactly the same as those in the United States, Faye originally planned to let the two children finish grade 12 in China and then take the university entrance exam in the United States. For the children, there will be no culture shock.

But the pandemic changed her mind. In the past, teachers of foreign children’s schools moved on a large scale every year, but since 2020, more and more foreign teachers have left the school, but few new foreign teachers have come in. Faye has been considering sending two children to study abroad in advance. .

Faye accelerated the decision after the outbreak in Shanghai this spring. For couples who have been engaged in international trade all the year round, moving is just a matter of packing two boxes and leaving. The important thing is the application of the child. The school directly affects their permanent residence.

Unlike most domestic mothers, the pros and cons of educational resources do not seem to be among Faye’s preferences. She evaluated her three alternatives:

California: Lots of sunshine, but the water is dry and the people there are busy, she doesn’t like it. New York: Good schools, low education costs, abundant trade resources, and rich cultural life, you can choose. Florida, the quality of education is average, many relatives, less tax, good sun, not dry, there will be heavy rain every afternoon, “like a place kissed by God”, suitable for long-term living.

But the important reason why Faye decided to move to Florida in the end was: “I don’t want to roll anymore”, and I don’t want my children to experience that kind of daily life for the time being. She recalled her life for more than 40 years and couldn’t stop. When the children go to college, they will naturally live a fast-paced life, so in the past few years in middle school, she hopes that her children can enjoy the world and feel more about the rural life in Florida.

In June, Shanghai lifted the lockdown. Faye sold his Shanghai house and went to the United States with his family at the end of July.

Education costs not rising but falling? ?

“Work hard, play hard.” This tradition, which is regarded as a golden sentence by the domestic middle class, has always flowed in the genes of Ivy League students in the United States. Although I thought “no more” in my heart, children who go to school from China actually have to work harder to keep up with the “Work hard, play harder” rhythm of their American classmates.

This is not a big problem for the two children of Faye’s family. After all, her youngest son had daily swimming lessons and basketball lessons when he was in China.

After arriving in the United States, Faye’s youngest son was selected into the swimming school team just over a month after school started. Six days a week, I have to follow the school team to train for two hours a day, starting at 6 am. In addition to this, the school has separate strength training sessions for student-athletes two days a week.

Faye drops children to school at 6:30 a.m.

American college applications attach great importance to whether a student has an excellent sports program. Student-athletes in middle and high school are already preparing for college. These children must be very self-disciplined to ensure that there is no delay in learning and sports.

Faye believes that this is a very important training for children. If they can do it, there will be no problems in academic research or business in the future. Her son also quickly became a “red man” in the school because of his love of sports and cheerful personality.

To Faye’s surprise, she found that the cost of education for her children was no different from that in China, and the investment in sports was far from it. In Shanghai, the expenditure on sports training alone costs nearly 10,000 yuan a month, while in the United States, it does not exceed 500 US dollars a month.

Another accompanying mother, Xinxin, who was a university teacher, gave up her stable job in the system in 2017 and accompanied her youngest daughter, who was in sixth grade at the time, to Los Angeles, USA.

Xinxin’s eldest daughter went to school in Beijing. She studied in the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China and the High School Affiliated to Peking University, and applied to an Ivy League school for university. Xinxin reflected that the eldest daughter was pushed by herself and walked all the way to a “special volume of life”. She doesn’t want her little daughter to experience it again, so she plans to change the education mode for her child.

Although they thought well, after they went to the United States, they were struck by the rich after-school life of local students. Fortunately, Xinxin’s youngest daughter had learned to play the piano in China, and Xinxin found the best piano teacher on the west coast for her. She practiced the piano for three hours every day after returning home from school, and also took time to study English.

Full-time accompany study, part-time study

Most mothers who accompany their children to study in the United States will experience a role transition from being dependent to dependent on their children. In order to avoid such a gap as much as possible, Xinxin cleverly found another mode.

Xinxin studied engineering during university, and after graduation, she worked as a teacher at the university, teaching marketing. She also wanted to study abroad when she was young, but she never had the opportunity. Instead, this accompanying study allowed her to experience the feeling of being a student again. In the process of accompany her daughter to study, she applied for university courses, she went to study sociology, literature, art history, and now she is still taking sketching and oil painting as electives.

So, every night when my daughter is studying, she will do her homework beside her. This is her careful thought to silently urge her children to make progress. “My mother is so old, and she is still studying hard.”

The nature of Faye’s work determines her understanding of American culture, and there is no language barrier. In the first week of his arrival, Faye had already taken care of everything, rented a nice office, and delivered his own cakes to the neighbors.

But Xinxin is not. In China, Xinxin has a nanny at home, so she doesn’t have to worry about anything, but when she first came to the United States, she was unfamiliar with everything here.

Xinxin has experienced loneliness, helplessness, and collapse. Once, she took her daughter to the suburbs to participate in a piano competition. The map showed a 40-minute drive. She was worried and left three hours early. She couldn’t understand the navigation, and went around in a big circle. Ten minutes to the venue. After the race in the evening, Xinxin bit the bullet and drove the car to the high speed. The traffic flow was fast and the lights were dim. She gritted her teeth and drove the 40-minute road.

After returning home, a sense of powerlessness arises spontaneously. For the first three months, Xinxin spent every day in this emotion. It wasn’t until five or six months later that she felt like she had passed the hardest phase. Up to now, Xinxin has been able to handle everything at home alone and calmly.

After personal experience, she realized how difficult it is to accompany the mothers as a group, and she respects all the mothers who accompany them. “There’s a feeling of being uprooted and growing again.”

Accompanying mother circle, invisible class differences

Although they all live overseas under the label of “accompanying mothers”, the gap between mothers is still reflected in some invisible places.

Faye is so confident in getting along with the locals that she applied to private schools for both of her children because she doesn’t like the mix of public schools. She also inspected another private school that also gave an offer. There are many children from rich families and celebrities, but she heard that these children “have some problems with their behavior”, so she gave up.

In today’s private schools, the parents she has come into contact with are all “seen in the world”. When communicating, she found that parents have similar educational concepts and plans for their children, and Faye is very satisfied.

On the other hand, Xinxin’s children study in public schools, and she relies heavily on the Chinese community she lives in. There are no less than ten Chinese people on her mobile phone. There are a large group of local Chinese, a group of parents from their daughter’s school, and a small group of mothers who have a good relationship with them.

When it comes to getting along with the locals, Xinxin feels that this group is enough to keep warm, and there is no need for him to integrate into the circle of local foreign parents.

Like Xinxin, each accompanying mother will maintain extremely close contact with other mothers, and this small group can meet all their social needs in a foreign land.

They shared school announcements, translated school emails in English for mothers with poor language skills, made appointments to volunteer at school on Thanksgiving, or cooked Chinese food together at fundraisers.

“Contribution to public welfare projects”, which is also a key consideration in American university applications. Some accompanying mothers love to organize such activities. They recruit people, prepare materials, and arrange procedures.

Often multi-day activities require them to be exhaustive and exhausting, but the mothers have no complaints. Over time, in the circle of accompanying mothers, such mothers have the highest prestige. New accompany mothers who go to the United States will contact them and are willing to make friends with them.

In addition, the accompanying mothers also organize gatherings of sisters with high frequency: afternoon tea, dinner, visiting each other to learn baking, flower arrangement and so on.

Most of the accompany mothers that Xinxin knows do not work, and their full-time accompaniment is already very busy: they prepare three meals a day, pick up their children to school in the morning and evening, and some mothers have to deliver meals to their children at noon, and have to do it when they get home. Housework, I only have a little free time to go to such a party.

At these gatherings, they can take a short break. The content of the conversation is no longer just about the child, but about yourself.

Now, the youngest daughter is about to enter university. After the application is over next year, Xinxin plans to return to China to live with her family who have been unable to visit them because of the epidemic.

As for the future of her daughters, she has done everything she can, and the rest is up to them.

Edit: Citrus Citrus

Image source Visual China and respondents

Copyright belongs to the original author