Sine Thieme and her family have traveled the world as ‘expats’ on the move, from Singapore to South Africa. But for the past two years, her family has settled down in, of all places, Brentwood.
Sine Thieme and her family have traveled the world from Singapore to South Africa as ‘expats’ on the move.
But for the past two years, her family has found a home in Brentwood.
The term ‘expat’ or expatriate often refers to individuals temporarily or permanently living outside the country of their birth. While the term can have political overtones, it can also be used simply for workers sent abroad by their companies.
Thieme – even before her family started moving around because of her husband’s job – has been away from her country of origin for quite some time.
Thieme and her husband Klaus are originally from Germany. They first immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s to attend the University of North Carolina where the two started to raise a family. Then, the traveling began.
Thieme considers herself a ‘trailing spouse’ that tags along when her husband gets a new assignment working for a Fortune 500 company. They moved all over the United States until he was tasked with a job in Singapore.
There, the couple had another child, and before she knew it, family members were packing their bags again to move to Johannesburg, South Africa. That was in 2010, and around that time, Thieme said two things in her life changed.
“That’s when I really started focusing on my family and writing more,” she told Brentwood Home Page.
Thieme said she used that time to reflect on how the constant traveling had affected her family; her marriage, her connection with friends; and for her, most importantly, the lives of her children.
“Every time we’ve moved its been hard, even when it’s within the U.S., because the kids have to start all over again,” she said. “But, it’s also a great opportunity to reinvent yourself and meet new people.”
Thieme said her upbringing was not at all similar to the life she leads now. She grew up in a small town in south Germany, and her parents didn’t even move to the next town, let alone a new country every year or so.
“It really just sort of happened to us, and each time it was like, ‘Really, we have to move again?” she said. “But one thing you have to do is just embrace it. Otherwise you’ll be miserable if you think back to what you’ve given up or missed.”
She said that on the whole, her children thrived and were afforded the opportunity to discover new cultures during their years as international travelers. But, she said as they got older, that’s become more difficult.
Thieme has two sons: one who just graduated from Ravenwood High School and is headed to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Another son is a rising junior at RHS. They have two daughters: one a freshman at RHS and another who attends Woodland Middle School.
“It’s gets harder when the kids are in high school,” she said. “It gets old for them to have to restart from scratch again, and rebuild their circle of friends. So, the older they are the harder it gets, but then again, it’s great to have done it.”
So, after Germany, Singapore, and South Africa – do the Thiemes finally plan on planting roots in Brentwood?
“Yeah we hope so,” she said.
“It kind of depends on my husband’s career but it looks like we’ll probably end up staying. We sort of made a decision we need to stay at least a few more years for [their kids] to get through high school. It’s a great place to live, great place to raise kids, and a great place to play tennis.”
Thieme writes a blog about her experiences that can be viewed at http://www.joburgexpat.com/. She also has published a book, Kilimanjaro Diaries, and has a featured column for the Wall Street Journal about her experiences as an expat.