Written by Tracey Blake
My friend Bridget did something really inspiring recently – she took herself and her family off to Spain for a few months to give her children the experience of living abroad, learning another language and discovering new things. No more childcare headaches, working mum stress or hum drum routine – this was bold and brave… and exciting!
Given that no-one seems to have any idea how our relationship with the EU and our freedom to travel within it will be effected given the Out vote, or how soon, her story seems all the more poignant.
Are you brave enough? If you fancy it you’d better do it soon folks! Here’s her guest post on their adventure….
We had always talked about taking our kids aboard for a while when they were young but it had never been possible. But then suddenly it was. My husband started a wood-fired pizza business last year, and there’s not much call for outdoor catering in January and February but he had bookings and marketing to do so he just needed a laptop. And I am a freelance PR so I work flexibly.
I booked an airBnB flat in southern Spain, googled an international school for the children and we packed the car full of as many home comforts as we could squeeze in, and put the bikes on the back. And then coerced friends and family into taking in our hens and the dog.
We were set on Spain because we both speak Spanish, and we settled on Roquetas because it’s a small town by the beach, it’s sunny in winter and it has an international school that teaches the English curriculum.
I have fond memories of going to school aboard, and Marcus does too. And whilst we don’t intend on living aboard for work as our parents did, we wanted our children to have a taste of school in another country.
But I did question the plan…a lot. On the first day of school our girls looked terrified as we left them in their new classrooms surrounded by Spanish children. At home, they go to a small rural school but this was a big modern school that goes up to 6th form. But, when we picked them up at the end of the day, they were bursting with news of all the differences. They had 3 courses for lunch, there was a snack machine, teenagers, and the other kids had rucksacks on wheels for all their books. And they had an hour of Spanish every day.
Florence, in year 2, had it easy. She had a lovely TA who gave her and the other English boy in her class a private lesson which set up her with confidence. But the teacher in year 3 hadn’t been expecting a non-Spanish speaker on the first day back after Christmas, and Aurelia was very cross. “I had to do science in Spanish, mummy!” After that first day though, the teacher was brilliant and found ways to include Aurelia in that daily hour where the class were taught in Spanish.
After school we cycled to the playpark on the beach or in the plaza, and at the weekends we went for chocolate and churros, explored the nearby national park, Cabo de Gata, and met up with Spanish friends – and our girls got used to eating at 9pm, even 10pm. We went to a fiesta in Granada, watched flamenco and stayed out til late.
I would do it again, if it’s possible. The best bit was being together as a family – we just had a lovely time discovering new things together. We were lucky that our local primary school was really supportive of our family adventure. We did have to take the children off the school roll, but they were welcomed back with open arms.
Next time, I wouldn’t worry so much. Although it was a big upheaval for a short period of time, and the girls did ask to come home quite often – they got fed up not understanding the games in the playground, and complained that the hot chocolate wasn’t properly hot – if you ask them now if they would like to go back again, the answer is a resounding, Si!
If you want further inspiration visit expatchild.com