When Opportunity Knocks

by Becky on January 14, 2013 · 2 comments

in Travel

Door knocker_2938

Sometimes we wonder, What are we doing here? Other times we think, Why didn’t we do this sooner?   For those who may be entertaining the idea of coming abroad with kids, here are my Top Five Challenges and my Top Five Opportunities–thoughts about living in a foreign country as a family.


One.  I miss my books.  I do.  Especially the library in my home.  I’m a bibliophile, and so are my kids.  I likewise often miss having access to city libraries with books in English.  Our library here is beautiful, but for my kids, it’s more of a homework station than a place to browse and borrow from.

Two.  I miss knowing that my dollar buys a dollar’s worth of goods.  The exchange rate has been fluctuating here, and that affects ex-pats of all stripes!

Three.  School.  I have the highest repsect for people who consistently home school.  Wow.  We’re home schooling our younger son, and it’s a full time proposition–both exhilarating and demanding!

Four.  Friends.  My kids often miss friends from home.  We consequently love skpye!

Five.  Kitchen “swag.”  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and sometimes miss my kitchen gadgets.  (Anyone got a waffle iron?)


One.  Spanish!  And Castillian Spanish, no less.  Wow, I love this language.  I love that we live in a place where the majority culture doesn’t speak my kids’ language.

Two.  Living urban.  I love big cities.  I love how each one has a distinct personality.  Barcelona is both cosmopolitan and very intimate.  In character, it’s both big and small at the same time.  I love that we walk everywhere, sometimes many miles in a day, and that I can never quite seem to see it all.

Three.  The religious architecture.  When I walk five blocks south to the Sagrada Familia cathedral, I’m never not in awe.  Whether it’s the small Basilica del Mar in the Born district or the massive Barcelona cathedral, I am often moved to tears when I walk inside.  Entering a European church for the first time–whether in Budapest, Vienna, Amsterdam, or Cadaques (Costa Brava, Spain)  is one of my greatest pleasures.

Four.  Friends.  Yes, some of my kids’ friends are at home.  But some were always here, waiting to collide with my children (not really, but it feels that way!).  My son’s new friends include an Estonian boy whose family lives here in Barcelona, and a Catalan boy whose family lives in our apartment building.  My daughters have acquired wonderful new friends, some from Bolivia and Peru, some from Venezuela, one from Russia.  All are bilingual, some multilingual, and all of them are refreshingly open to widening their circles, a trait that seems to be common in kids whose families have moved frequently.

Five.  Just the sheer differentness of it:  look, feel, food, languages, people, cultures, cityscapes, seascapes.  Brilliant.

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