The kids on our 2014 trip to Costa Rica.
Pretty much the second question we are asked is, “What do the kids think about it?” I wish I could say that they are all extremely excited about moving to Spain, are trying hard to learn Spanish already, and are anticipating all they will experience. Oh, and how thrilled they are to be leaving their friends and going to a new school for a year.
I wish I could say that.
The reality looks more like this: every day, one or more of the kids complains about moving to Spain, about having to take extra Spanish lessons right now, about how they will miss their friends or their friends will forget them, how they won’t be able to do well in school because they don’t speak the language, having to share a room with a sibling once we are in Granada, not being able to see movies in English (that’s from our 14-year-old movie buff and future filmmaker) or any other number of things.
The reality is also slowly turning into questions about Spain, what Granada is like, what the food will be like, what kinds of things we will do there, what their schools will be like, where else in Europe we will travel. I would not say they are coming around exactly, but they are definitely showing a little more interest and a little less frustration with this (what appears to them) life-changing decision.
Jason and I expect that the first few months will be really tough, especially when it comes to school. We are going to try to prepare the kids (and ourselves) as best we can for that, but what we can really only hope for is that this experience shows our kids that they can handle tough situations. Robbie, Matthew and Gabi have been so blessed to not have to struggle with much in their lives. We are hoping that this move will be a struggle that will prove to each of them that they are capable and competent individuals. We are also hoping that it will inspire a love of travel, an eagerness to try new things, and a realization that things can be so different in other countries, yet there are human traits or characteristics that everyone around the world shares.
Our family of five is moving to Granada, Spain in July 2016. As soon as we tell people, we hear, “What made you decide to do this?” so I thought the best way to start off this journal is to answer that question.
Because Jason has worked for a global company for the last 16 years, we have had the opportunity to travel around the world (Jason much more than me, but I’ve been lucky to tag along on quite a few occasions). Because of that, living overseas has always been on the back of our minds. However, the older our children get, the harder it is to imagine requesting a work assignment (usually a minimum of three years) overseas. Over the summer of 2015 we started talking about living overseas again, but with our oldest, Robbie, starting at our amazing local high school, we just didn’t see asking him to spend his entire high school career in another country, especially because he had been accepted into his school’s Digital Film Program, which he had been looking forward to since we moved to Seattle in 2011. We also wanted our other two children to finish out their elementary and middle school years at their current school.
What to do? Jason likes to say he’s had a job since he was 12, and he decided it was a good time for him to take a one-year sabbatical from work. After (briefly) considering a trip around the world and talking to a few other families who had taken a year or two overseas in one spot, we decided that would be the smartest way to go. Having our children exposed to a new language was a must, and since the kids and I had all been exposed to some Spanish, a Spanish-speaking country seemed the logical choice. Spain became our destination because we knew we would be able to travel inexpensively to other countries in Europe that the kids had already expressed an interest in visiting, plus Jason and I had been there twice before, and it always struck us as a place we might want to live someday. In fact, if you’ve seen our house in Seattle, you wouldn’t be surprised to know that we chose it partly because it reminded us a little of the homes we’ve seen in Southern Spain.
Our home in Seattle decorated for Halloween.
We narrowed down our choice to Granada because of weather, language (Castilian vs. Catalan), location, and the fact that we’d been there before (granted, only for a day!). Visiting the blogs of Jed from Bucking the Trend and Bianca from Our Year in Spain confirmed for us that Granada was the right place for our family.