Interesting article from today's Observer, documenting the stories of 12 young immigrants to Britain. The following is a shortened edit.
Nice place you've got here
Every year more than 26,000 children arrive in Britain. They come in search of freedom, opportunity - and Mr Bean. Twelve recent arrivals from as far apart as Afghanistan and middle America tell Laura Potter what they think about us.
The Afghan boy
Ilyas, 12, moved from Kabul, Afghanistan, to escape the war. His father, an engineer, came to the UK in 2000 and worked at Gatwick airport. Ilyas, his mother and his brother followed in June 2006. In Kabul they shared a home with 25 other family members. They now live in a one-bedroom flat in Hounslow, west London. Ilyas attends the local secondary school.
What did you think Britain would be like?
I thought it was clean and safe and green. I imagined it would be a really big country with loads of nice, friendly people. I had seen England on the Mr Bean film.
What was your home like in Afghanistan?
There were no roads, it was all muddy and if it rained you couldn't even go outside. We had one bath for all of us. There were about seven people sleeping in one room - my aunties, uncles and cousins on my dad's side.
We have just one bedroom and I'm sleeping in the living room.
How was your first day at school?
I didn't know anybody and I didn't know English but someone said, 'Do you want to play football?' and I said, 'Yes, all right.' I wasn't playing well so after a little bit they said, 'You can't play any more.'
What's the biggest difference between Afghanistan and here?
Here you can do most sports, but in Afghanistan you can't do any; they have one good field in the whole of Afghanistan but it's for the teams.
What do you like most about Britain?
Maybe the roads. I'd like to have roads like this in Afghanistan so it's easier to travel.
Where will you live when you grow up?
I will live here because it's safe.
The Pakistani boy
Mohtashim, 13, moved from a four-bedroom house in Lahore, Pakistan, in October 2005 when his father, who worked as an accountant for the British Council, was offered a job at the council's London HQ. The family now live in a two-bedroom flat in Hounslow, where Mohtashim attends the local secondary school.
What's your house like here?
I live in a flat on the second floor. Me and my brother share a room. The flat is smaller than my old house but it's all right.
How was your first day at school?
I didn't know a word of English but the teacher knew my language so she translated for me. The other children were nice and helped me.
What do you like the most about Britain?
School and my friends. We like to play football together. My favourite subject is maths because my teacher is really funny.
The Somali children
The family fled Somalia at the outbreak of war, in 1991, to live in a Kenyan refugee camp. From there Abdul Kadir, 11, came to the UK as an unaccompanied minor in 2002 and joined his aunt and uncle. He was granted indefinite leave to remain. His father joined Abdul Kadir in 2004, and his mother and sisters, Ruwayda, 10, and Sabrina, eight, arrived in November 2006. They have refugee status, and the children attend primary school in London.
Do you remember coming here?
Abdul Kadir I went to my auntie's house and I had to live there until my dad came. It took a long time... I don't remember anyone from my country except my dad and mum. I learnt English really quickly; it took less than a month.
Ruwayda I was confused about everything. The first word I learnt was 'whatever'.
How did you feel when you were told you were moving to Britain?
Ruwayda We moved on 8 November 2006 - I remember the date. I felt excited because we were going to see our brother.
Sabrina I felt happy and sad and scared.
What do you remember about Kenya?
Ruwayda All our family except my mum's mum lived with us, and outside it was all sand. The school started at 8 o'clock and the first thing they did was check your nails - if they were too long you got hit with a metal stick.
Sabrina You had to cut them so you wouldn't go to the playground and scratch someone.
What's the biggest difference between Kenya and Britain?
Abdul Kadir The language. I used to play lots of tricks on my sisters when they arrived.
What do you think of the British?
Ruwayda Some are nice, but the housing people aren't nice.
Abdul Kadir They don't care about anyone; they just care about the money.
The Latvian girl
Anastasija, 12, moved from Latvia to Yorkshire in September 2006 because her mother found work there and wanted to live in a new country. They had been living in a two-bedroom flat in the Latvian capital, Riga, where her mother was a university lecturer. They now live in a three-bedroom house with Anastasija's grandparents, who have been in the UK since 2005. Her mother works as an administrator for a recruitment company.
What do you remember about the place you left behind?
We lived in a flat and our town had three shops, and new houses everywhere. I had friends everywhere. There was a Latvian school but because I didn't speak good Latvian I went to a Russian school [Anastasija's parents are Russian]. After school the children could stay to do our homework and all the teachers stayed for an hour to help. We don't have primary school and secondary school; it's just one big school for everyone.
What do you think of the children here?
They always help you, and if you're crying they always ask you what's wrong.
Are most of your family still in Latvia?
My dad, my cousin, my auntie and my uncle. The rest are in Russia and my dad's going to go to Russia now because he doesn't have my grandma any more. She died on Saturday because she thought I was going to go to see her in two weeks, but she couldn't wait and she had a heart attack.
Is there anything you find strange about British people?
When you go into a shop and someone pushes you or knocks you by accident, we say sorry and then go away - but here you say: 'Sorry, sorry, sorry.'
What's the best thing about living here?
I like Flamingo Land [wild animal park]. We've been to Blackpool, and last week we went to Featherstone Castle. We're going everywhere when it's not raining.
What's the biggest difference between here and Latvia?
In your country people are always smiling. We always say, 'What's your name?' and 'How are you?' and 'Do you want to be my friend?' but we're never smiling.
What do you think of the food here?
In Latvia we eat loads of soups and salads and healthy food, but here you eat loads of cheeseburgers and hamburgers.
What was the first word you learnt here?
Fancies, like 'he fancies her'.
Where will you live when you grow up?
I'm going to go to France because my mum's friend met a boy and they fancy each other. He knows only French and she knows only Russian, but they're learning and they're really happy and they live in France, and my mum said I should try a new country.
The American children
Luke, nine, and Sarah, 12, moved from Wisconsin in August 2007. Their parents are teachers and they wanted to broaden their horizons. The family left a three-bedroom house in a community of 650 to live in a three-bedroom house in Amersham, Bucks. The children attend an international school in Middlesex, where their parents teach.
How did you find out you were moving to the UK?
Sarah I was at a friend's sleepover when Mom and Dad called me and they were like: 'We're going to move to England,' and I was like: 'Um, OK.' I was sad to leave my friends.
Luke It was night, so I was getting ready to brush my teeth. I was kind of shocked.
How did you feel?
Sarah I was pretty excited. A few weeks ago I was looking at my old diary and reading all the stuff I'd written about England before we came. I was like: 'It's going to be so great to see everything' and, 'The people are going to sound so funny.'
Do you remember the day you arrived?
Luke We arrived in August, just as the rain finally stopped.
Sarah We went in to London to take a look around. Seeing all the statues it was like: 'Ugh, America is so boring compared to here.'
How has Britain surprised you?
Sarah I was expecting it to be more fancy and old-fashioned, but I think Britain is actually ahead of America. There are all the museums and old pretty stuff, but also the big flashing stuff for advertisements. We didn't expect those, and Big Ben was much bigger than we imagined.
What was your old home like?
Sarah We lived on Lake Superior, up on a hill, and we had a neighbourhood of about 15 kids, so we'd just run around all the time.
Luke We would get 3ft of snow in the winter, maybe more. It would get to 25 below.
What do you think of British food?
Sarah I like fish and chips, but steak and kidney pie is kind of scary.
Luke We eat too much fast food in America so it's better here - there's Indian food and Chinese food, there's more variety.
How is this school different from yours in America?
Sarah This school is big and grand and our school in America was really small; there were only about 50 kids. We were at a Catholic school before as well, so that was different.
What is strange about British people?
Sarah I like the words that they use, like 'cheers' or 'shan't' - we just use 'can't'.
Luke I think they sound more mature.
Where do you think you'll live when you grow up?
Sarah I'd like to go back home, or to Italy.
Luke Switzerland, because of the mountains.