August 2012 changed our lives forever. We were venturing off into the unknown, moving to Spain for 1-2 years. We wanted our kids to experience an education in Spain.
Exactly 4 years ago we were spending our last couple of weeks at summer camp with the YMCA in North Carolina. With heavy hearts we were enjoying the last moments with each and every one of our friends. When it was time to say good-bye, it was painful, heartbreaking. It was also wonderful to know we loved and were loved by so many.
We moved to Spain!
Of course you can read our entire blog. Then you will know exactly what we did and how we are still going, but I want to reflect a little. You see we just experienced a bit of a milestone for our family.
Anya graduated 6th grade!
Yes, our kids have attended public Spanish school the entire time (excluding our 1 year nomadic in Southeast Asia). We arrived here summer of 2012, not knowing anyone. We wanted to give the kids and ourselves and experience of a lifetime. With very little time to get settled, we registered the kids for public Spanish school, found a place to live, and started our new life.
That first day of Spanish school was overwhelming for us all, Anya’s post about it. The kids were whisked away into a class. I am not sure any of us were ready for that moment. That very first day the kids experienced nothing but kindness, curiosity, and acceptance. Kids were sharing snacks with our kids, as we didn’t know to give them a snack. The love was immediate, but that isn’t to say we didn’t have a few bumps on the road and growing pains. The amazing friends they’ve made along the way are priceless.
What I love the most, is there isn’t as much judgement of others. People are just accepted for who there are and as they are. I know this is a complete generalization, but it is our experience. I am sure some judgement goes on, but it just isn’t harsh or obvious like it would be back where we are from. You know the statements like “she shouldn’t be wearing that” and so on.
What do we think about the Education in Spain?
Looking back on the years and knowing both of our kids will now be in secondary school, it feels as if the time has passed so quickly. I can’t tell you how full my heart is with gratitude to all of the people in the town. Everyone has accepted us and made us feel at home in Almuñécar. From the parents of other kids, to our neighbors and to those we have met in their place of business. Especially my friends at the grocery store, like Azucena 🙂
We know the education in Spain isn’t the same as it would be in the USA, but then our life isn’t the same as it would be either. We supplement where we can with their education, but what we couldn’t possibly foster where we lived in the USA is the mentality of the “village raising the children”. We have so much appreciation, admiration and gratefulness for the teachers our kids have had. Luckily for us Pepe was the teacher in primary for both of our kids.
The lifestyle in Spain
This lifestyle and choice and afforded us the “Leave it to Beaver” kind of lifestyle for the kids, yet full of culture, excitement and independence. We feel the kids are very well looked after at school and for that matter around town too. Here we all feel safe and the kids are allowed to be kids. We aren’t constantly wondering if they are okay nor are we living in fear.
We hear so much about what is going on in the states with violence, guns, politics and more and just don’t have the same experience in Spain. I know oh so well that the media can hype things up, but in Europe there is fear of the USA. In the USA there is fear all around. It is sad to see and we know that many people generalize and blame one or many isolated incidents on an entire country. That said, the fear is real and I am glad we aren’t currently living in that environment, as we raise our children.
Here in Spain, our kids play outside, walk around town with their friends, go down to the beach and without fail will run into people we know along the way. It is really like we have eyes and ears all over town. It is a great feeling to hear when our friends see our kids and they let us know. Not to say there isn’t a little worry in the back of our minds at times. It is difficult to shake the old mentality out of our minds. Believe me when I say, I know there thousands of locations in the USA, which would provide the same positive feeling.
Just know I am only comparing our personal experiences, so please don’t take personally. I don’t judge anyone for their choices in life or education, but I do want to say I love our choice and feel it is perfect for us.
To see the kids at graduation was absolutely amazing. The entire school performs, celebrates, and honors their school, friends and teachers. The entire 6th grade class was interacting with each other, hugging, playing, chatting and crying.
Most of these kids have been in school together since they were 3 yrs old. I love the closeness of the class and I especially love the honest and raw emotions. It is okay for the guys and teachers to cry and be sad right along with the girls. It is okay to be real and just let your feelings be expressed and honored.
Most of the kids will attend the same secondary school together, but out of a class of 18 students, 4 will be attending another school. That news was taken in stride when they first found out, but somehow the graduation ceremony didn’t allow for that shield to be up any longer. The kids all love each other so much. Oh yes, there is still room for small cliques and drama, but over all it is just like family. You have your little spats and it is all over soon enough. One thing for sure, they all love their teacher and he loves them back!
Click here to read more about our education in Spain as well as homeschool and supplemental education.
The perspective from another foreign family
We do have some friends that live in the next village, who have just completed their first year of education in Spain. One mom named Darcy summed it all up wonderfully in her Facebook post. She was kind enough to give me permission to share it with you too. It is great to know other families who have had a similar, wonderful, and loving experience like us.
From Darcy on Facebook
“Kindergarten Class Photo
There are so many things I love about this photo.
How casual it is,
How the teacher is down on the floor with the students,
How one boy is in her lap,
How both of my kids are as close to the teacher as possible because they LOVE her and she adores them,
How my kids are wearing their “Gay Pride” shirts even though they have no idea what GAY is or that their family is so very different or that a madman massacred a dance floor full of fabulous young people just because they were GLBT,
How Sebastian’s very first glimmer of a crush is sitting three seats away on the left and she’s Arabic and Muslim and he doesn’t know and he doesn’t care and why should he because they like each other and that’s all that matters,
I love how none of these kids have ever had to practice a lock-down drill because there might be a ‘bad’ guy with a gun.
I love how no one here cares that we are 2 moms with kids.
Teach Love. Teach Tolerance. Teach Kindness.
Start with the kids. Start somewhere.”
Secondary school education in Spain
Luckily for us, we are also experienced with secondary school in Spain. Lars just completed 8th grade and Anya will attend his school next year. I don’t seem to have the same fears and anxiety, which I know I would have had back in North Carolina. Here in Spain, there just isn’t that same stigma of bullies, drugs, and promiscuity that goes along with those middle grade years.
There seems to still be a bit on innocence and wholesomeness up through 8th grade. I don’t know beyond, as we haven’t made it there yet. Yes, there are kids who “like” each other and so forth, but it doesn’t seem to be the “in your face” mode. I guess it all goes back to the village raising the kids. If they are doing something wrong, they are sure to be seen and parents told as well.
I am not sure if some of this is because we are in a smaller town or the smallest school, or if it is just Spain, but it is wonderful. As you know we can only share our unique experience and each year different classmates, different schools, towns, and people could change that experience. There is no guarantee you would have the same experience, but wouldn’t it be nice?
Thanks for following along on our journey. We appreciate you all and your comments too.
Are you Interested in moving to Spain?
I bet you are just full of excitement, anxiety, and likely many questions. It is always bitter-sweet to follow a dream, yet know you are leaving family and friends too. There is a bit of red tape involved with an international move, as well as a bit of a learning curve with getting settled.
We are happy to say that all of the information provided on our websites Wagoners Abroad and Almunecar Info is free for all to use. Just remember this information should not take the place of legal advice, when applicable. On the homepage of Wagoners Abroad, you will find an image with “Move to Spain”, just click on that and you will find our “Mother of all moving to Spain posts”. It is loaded with info.
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