THE difficulties that young people face when they move across to France with their families can sometimes turn a new beginning sour.
Starting a new school, getting to grips with the language and having to make friends in a completely foreign environment can mean a few sleepless nights for teenagers.
But when 16-year-old Ruairidh Wynne-McHardy faced similar difficulties after he moved to the Tarn et Garonne, in South West France, with his family he was determined to do something constructive and created the TeenxPats website to help young people settle in to their new life.
"I couldn't sleep one night and the idea of a site for young expats popped into my head," Ruairidh said. "So I put together a website that allows people to share information, but also post videos and write about their favourite things.
"The site will provide useful advice for teenagers moving to a new country, giving them an idea of what to expect and some of the difficulties they may face, so they don't feel as if they have been chucked in at the deep end."
The TeenxPats website is a social networking service, similar to the popular MySpace and Facebook, offering a place for people to link up, as well as take part in forums, online polls and share news through individual blogs.
And Ruairidh is hoping that users of the site will be able to help each other ahead of a move and be prepared so they get a good idea of what to expect, for example, when starting at their new school.
"My first day at school was very confusing as I couldn't understand a word of what people were saying," Ruairidh said. "It was a strange environment, quite scary really, but I began to settle in as I got to grips with the language."
Two years on from that first day Ruairidh has just passed his brevet examinations, which means he is now set to go to lycee where he will study for his baccalaureate before taking on a career in the legal profession, unless his website gets snapped up.
"It would be nice if Google bought me out, but for now I would like to expand the site from France," said Ruairidh. "And in time set up a teenage expat group in every city so people can meet up face to face, after making friends online.
"Maybe then I would look to expand it to appeal to adults and younger children."
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