You arrived with one accent and a language you speak at home, and by the time you left you have been influenced by all of the international versions of English that are spoken at school. You probably had extra foreign words you added to your English (‘ciao’ or otherwise). This often means people can’t tell where you’re from – sometimes a big advantage as people find it hard to pigeonhole you.
When you first went to international school, your new friends may have seemed peculiarly foreign, but after a while you no longer noticed their differences – they just became your friends. Whether their parents worked for international business, foreign embassies, NGOs, charities or other areas, your friends all had interesting experiences living in lots of places.
The atmosphere meant that being a new kid at school was totally normal. This made arriving there easier, as everyone was used new students.
Saying goodbye to your friends (and lovers…) and making new ones was par of the course. Sometimes this was tough, and it may have made you more hard of heart than those who remained in one place, but it now gives you a huge advantage in new situations and meeting new people.
Because you have moved around, you developed a standard answer to this question, otherwise you can even start to confuse yourself. You may have one nationality on your passport, but your cultural identity is more complex, with bits and pieces from everywhere you’ve lived and everyone you’ve met. In any case, your non-traditional background has always been a great conversation starter.
Because you have friends and family in lots of different countries, you got used to flying around to see them all pretty quickly. It made you appreciate that the world is not such a big place after all and gives you a good tolerance to jet-lag. You also have many opportunities to stay with friends in other countries later in life.
After years of learning how to order a Coke, pizza, or beer in Swiss German, French, or Japanese, you know the basic level of a language you need to get by and make you sound like a pro, even if you have never been fluent.
You have tried so many different foods living abroad, some you love and some that you can’t understand how the locals eat. All the same you end up with a funny mix of cravings. You find different foods also conjure up memories of living in certain places.
While your friends ‘back home’ may have had a smooth ride through their school career, you had to adapt to a number of new subjects, sports, curricula and exams. This may have seemed unbelievably stressful at times, but you are secretly pleased you went through it (and are now out the other side).
Whether your international school experience was a smooth ride or a rollercoaster of baffling new experiences, you can be sure that when you meet other former-international school kids, you have a load of funny experiences to laugh about.