When a military family is posted out of the country (OUTCAN), it is a blessing in many ways, yet can also be tough on many levels. We found out about our posting OUTCAN a mere 5 weeks before my husband had to be in the new country for the new job. With three kids in tow, we had to get all the kids through the hoops to get ready to go. What is normally a 3-4 month process had to be condensed in a couple of weeks (as you have to be cleared to go before you can do your House Hunting Trip (find a place to live)). Ready, aim! An impossible task you would say? Working full time as a teacher and part-time as a reservist, with my husband physically working in a city a few hours away, I still managed to get the kids HIV tests, TB x-rays, and a full medical screening done in 2 days. Then, for education, we needed to have all report cards for the past 3 years as well as transcripts sent to Ottawa for education evaluations. Passport pictures taken for the special passport (and applications done), and Social Worker meeting with the whole family for her screening requirements. Inoculations had to be reviewed, and planned (as the new location has different inoculation requirements). As well as start the massive search for the best schools, the best place to get a home, etc. Three weeks later, we were on the plane to go find a place to live. It was like ripping a band-aid off, all in one massive and mind boggling blur! But, we have shown our determination. What many thought would be impossible to do, was done (stress, arguments and sleepless nights aside).
Although we thought education would not be an issue in our new home, once we were physically in our new location, we found that it was a huge problem. All the kids had to do second-language testing (just because we speak a second language), English language testing and Math Testing. The math alone took a full day. These battery of tests took 2-3 days, depending on their ages. This was just for ‘placement’ evaluations. Once we got to guidance at the school, we soon realized that it would be even more complicated! My grade 12 student was placed in grade 11, despite having all grades in the 90s. He physically could not do the graduation requirements (which included history, gouvernment, personal finance, all courses he did in Canada, but were not recognized) and do the requirements for entrance into a Canadian university for engineering (what he wants). On the verge of sending him back to Canada to finish high school, Children’s Education Management came up with a solution that works. He is now doing online schooling from Ontario to graduate, and doing some of the few recognized sciences in the high school here. I totally recommend all families faced with issues to contact them (CEM) first when faced with schooling issues!
Finally down to the work.. all is in place, and we are enjoying the area, travelling to see the sites and enjoying the experience. OUTCAN can be a great learning experience for all members of the family.
It is not all rosy being posted OUTCAN. Pay-wise if the dollar is low, you take a hit, as you are paid lower than the going rate, and in local currency (Euro, US, etc). Since July our monthly pay has dropped $400 US (compared to last’s years rates, we are making $40K less a year). Not to mention, most spouses cannot work OUTCAN, so you lose an additional salary. That never helps when you are feeding teen boys! Applying to universities in Canada from OUTCAN will be a challenge. My son wants to apply to RMC. They request full FBI checks (with fingerprints), a full education evaluation done by a private firm, flying him back for testing, etc. when you are OUTCAN. We have yet to meet the challenges my third son (in grade 11) will face going back to finish off his high school. There are many hidden costs, and emotional tolls when living OUTCAN.
However the experience is amazing and one we plan on thoroughly enjoy, by travelling as much as possible in our short year out of the country. No obstacle is impossible to surmount! We have already spent a few nights in different cool cities, and visited some interesting historic sites. With no time to waste, there will be more to come! It is important to enjoy the time and live the experience. A great adventure for the whole family.