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Any advice from those who have may have moved overseas
temporarily with family (specific to India where we are going, or
not)? Question 1: How did you arrange temporary housing,
transportation, health care, etc.? Question 2: Any
recommendations on what to bring with in terms of baby supplies
(car seat, pack n' play, etc.) for a 1-year old, or, on the
other-hand, what you found you didn't actually need to bring...
Thanks for your help!
I've not relocated anywhere, however, we did visit Bangalore
and Mysore for a total of 7 days during December of 2006. All
the major brands of baby products are found there even in the
small grocery stores. I actually liked the Huggies with Aloe
Vera diapers that was only available in Asia and not North
America. There's no law requiring the use of a car seat, since
the majority of the population uses the autorickshaws to get
around. Pretty much any product you can find at Target, you'll
find there. This is based on the assumption that you are
relocating to a large city.
My husband and I would like to live abroad with our kids ages 11,
9 and 9, for a year. He is an (agricultural) economist and I
have lots of NGO experience with foundations and non-profits.
Can anyone suggest where we might look for temporary jobs abroad?
Do you know any good websites for this kind of job-seeking? Are
there particular places you might recommend? We are interested
in a Spanish or French-speaking country, but are open to many
other places as well.
Try the website eurobrussels.com. These are jobs mostly in the
the EU, but it seems like that's what you are interested in. If
it's the developing world, try
http://www.developmentex.com/index.asp or idealist.com.
Denmark has recently been voted ''best place to live'' and has a
labor shortage. Many Danes speak English and are very helpful if
you speak only a little Danish.
The Danish language is really fascinating to learn and is similar
to old English in many ways. During World War II, Danes all over
Denmark risked their lives to smuggle almost all of their Jewish
families into Sweden before Hitler could transport them to
concentration camps in Germany.
For more information on working in Denmark, go to:
Have you checked out idealist.org? Good luck!
Hi my son (UC grad 07) is heading off to Europe- and would like to extend his travels
by working in Italy, Sweden or Finland for awhile (hopefully where there is
snowboarding avail.) Does anyone have info on getting a visa for this type of
excursion, or any other words of wisdom?
It's very difficult for Non EC folks (like Americans) to get a
work visa in Italy, moreover, if you go on a vacation visa (the
normal three months 'visa' that is automatic for most people),
you can't get a work visa - Permesso di Soggiorno - unless you
come back to the United States and apply for one with the Italian
Consulate. It's possible that your son might find work under the
table, but of course, that's illegal and it's unlikely that an
Italian employer would stick his neck out for someone who wasn't
family. Unless your son knows someone already in Italy (someone
who would hire him or someone who can help with a work visa), I
wouldn't be too optimistic about it. Don't know about other
I'm a teacher and my husband and I would really like to move abroad for a few years
within the next year or two. Our children will be 4 and 1. My question: how do we
find jobs? I've looked on-line but there is sooooo much information. The UK and
France are on the list but alson Latin America, South America and the Caribbean. I
speak Spanish fluently but only a little French.
looking for a change
I lived in the Netherlands for several years and most of my
friends were teaching at an American school there. They found
there jobs through job fairs in the US. None needed a foreign
language (there is usually a pretty strong ex-pat community
wherever you go -- though I would suggest learning the local
language while there). Please contact me if you would like me to
put you in touch with my friends. They can give you better insight.
Maybe it's a mid-life thing. Maybe it's just a dream that my
husband and I have had for a long time. We're actually
beginning to think about what it would be like to travel with
our two kids for the better part of a year, and would love to
learn from others who either took their kids on an extended
trip abroad or did this themselves as kids/young teens. We're
thinking about two years down the road, when our daughter would
be in ninth grade and our son would be in seventh grade. We
have a fairly poor public high school option, which is in part
motivating this plan. We'd find someplace to stay long enough
to enrol them in school, or perhaps just do an independent
study curriculum. I'd really love to hear about pros, cons,
how long to stay in one place, how long to be away. The kids
are seasoned travelers but we've never undertaken on this large
a scale. But I love the idea of further introducing them to
the world before they leave for college, and this seems like
the last and best way to do it. What should we know and what
should we consider and what should we look out for and where
should we begin? Many thanks,
Lonely planet travelers
It sounds like a great idea but you should check with your children.
They are of an age where they might ultimately resent being away from
their friends and school for an extended period of time, despite the
fabulous cultural advantages of
living/travelling abroad. If money is not a huge concern,
London would be my first choice.
I don't have any practical advice, since I've not done this (though I've
definitely daydreamed about it). I read a great book about a Bay Area
family that did exactly what you're thinking about. It's called ''One
Year Off'' and here's the Amazon link
http://www.amazon.com/One-Year-Off-Leaving-Children/dp/1885211651 . Also google ''one year off'' and there's at
least one other site that helps people plan a year off. I hope you get
some good input from other BPNers. Happy planning!
Another world traveler
When I was in first grade, my family lived in India for the school year,
followed by a few months in Scotland, while my father was on sabattical.
My brother was in 4th grade and my sister in 8th. It was by far the best
thing my parents did for us during our childhoods and has had a profound
influence on the way we have all lived our lives since. My parents were
both teachers and were given the school curriculum to teach us at home
during the year. We all finished the full year's curriculum over the
summer before we left, and spent the year learning by watching and
living daily life in a completely foreign culture. My parents passed on
an important lesson that education should not just take place in the
classroom, but in living and experiencing the world.
My brother, sister and I have been active and adventurous travellers all
our lives, and devoted our lives to engaging with the world by studying
foreign languages and living abroad for extended periods. None of us or
our parents believe we missed out on anything at all by missing that one
year of school, and what we gained was so much more valuable. I highly
recommend you to take your kids abroad - my husband and I plan to do the
same when our son is older. My mother admits that it was a struggle to
travel with three children with little access to clean water, worrying
about malaria, etc, but she will be the first to tell you it was worth
it. Especially for children growing up in the material comforts of the
Bay Area, there is nothing more valuable than showing them how the rest
of the world lives been there
My husband and I love the Bay Area, but we're getting itchy feet and we're thinking
it might be time to move. We've always dreamed of living abroad, but it seemed too
difficult, based on getting jobs/visas overseas.
Now, it seems we might have the perfect opportunity: My husband has been offered
a job he could do remotely from anywhere as long as there's a DSL line. My job also
could be fiddled with so I could do it remotely, at least part-time.
My question is as follows: We have a young son (he's 9 months old). If we moved
sometime in the next year, is that a good/bad age to move overseas; would the
whole experience of living abroad be lost on him if we only live there for a year or
two? Any countries/areas better for young children than others? (I speak a little
French, my husband, Spanish, although neither of us is at all fluent.)
I think it would be a good time to go, because your child won't be in school, or even
preschool, yet. Once he has more of his own life, he might feel more homesick. We
have taken extended trips with our now 14-month-old and it was fine. Her sense of
security is still mostly tied to being with us. That said, she won't remember the
countries she has visited, and had no notion that our time in various foreign cities
was any different than, say, going to Santa Cruz. All she new is that we were
somewhere different, with a different house, etc.
About specific countries: think about Portugal. We were only there a week, but the
people were so nice to babies! It was like traveling with a celebrity, she got so much
attention. The facilities are not child-oriented, but everyone is happy to
accommodate kids wherever you go.
Another possibility: Australia! It's exotic but also easy. You feel like you're really
somewhere different when you see a kangaroo hopping by or a flock of cockatoos
landing on a city building, but at the same time, it's not stressful. You'll be able to
find groceries you want, playgrounds, a good doctor if you need one, etc., etc. The
people are generally very friendly (the shared language helps), the cities are cleaner
and more functional than they are here, and there are lots of fun things for kids to
do. What toddler wouldn't love all the animals?
I moved to Germany with my family when I was 3 years old. We
lived overseas for 8 years before returning to the US.
Though I can't speak about the difficulty of getting jobs/visas
I can tell you that at 9 months old your son will probably not
remember much of his experience, but as he ages he will. At 3
years old I have some vivid memories of our experience. I
learned a little German which has stuck with me (I am now 36)and
I consider Germany home in some ways.
If you can make it work my advice is to do it. It will be very
enriching for all of you. I never have a straight forward answer
when people ask ''where did you grow up'' but I like it that way.
Hope this helps.
My family is going on sabbatical staring in June 2006 to the
Geneva area. We have never gone on sabbatical before, and need
advice about the following issues:
1. Health Insurance. What do families do about health insurance
while on sabbatical? We could either select the (expensive)
plans that cover you out-of-network? Did you find insurance in
the country you were visiting?
2. Moving Overseas. Did you use a relocation company? Did you
3. Renting out your Berkeley house. Did you rent out your house
in Berkeley while you were away? Did you use a realtor or rental
We rented our house for 9 mos while we were away. The only two
places we got responses were craigslist and the UC Berkeley
faculty housing--and fortunately those are both free. I also
signed up for some other paid services but they did not work.
We started listing our house in May for an August departure.
Didn't end up renting it till August, which was stressful. Got
lots of inquiries at the last minute.
I also bought the Nolo press landlord guide and it was useful.
We (my husband, my 7 month old son, and myself) are considering moving to
Switzerland. His work has positions worldwide and there may be an opportunity
arrising for us. I am really worried about the transition for my son, it has taken us
this far just to get his naps onto some sort of schedule and him adjusted to his
bedtime. Does anyone have experience with taking there infant abroad and living
there? Also can anyone tell me about there experience raising children (baby) in
My advice is don't worry about the sleep. If your baby's seven
months old, his nap and night time schedule will change a few
more times before it's all said and done anyway. If the move is a
good one, please don't let the sleep schedule stop you. He'll adjust.
I was wondering if anyone has experience with living in West
Africa with a child, especially a young child. My son Gabriel,
13 months, is Ghanaian-American. I would like to bring him to
Ghana to meet that side of his family (his father is from
Ghana), and introduce him to the culture, language, and music. I
am thinking of starting a business there (in Accra) and living
there long-term. I lived there for 6 months in 2001 when I was
working there as a technology volunteer. My main concerns are
malaria (I worry about side effects of anti-malarials too) and
infectious disease. Any insight into life with children in Ghana
would be appreciated.
My mother went to Africa with my brother when he was 9 months old. But
he was young to take the Lariam (name of the drug to prevent malaria).
So she had to be careful where she went with him; avoid the area were
there is a lot of mosquito, she bought mosquito net (to protect him
he was a sleep) and lot of insecticide (there is also a lotion which
put on skin to prevent mosquito bite).
I didn't see the original posting, so forgive me if the advice
isn't on the mark. I have a friend who just moved to Tanzania,
which is in E. Africa, but she could have some helpful advice
for you. She and her son (5 yrs old) were on the latest
malaria medication prescribed in the US when they first arrived
in Africa, but they both had to stop taking it due to side
effects (she became depressed and couldn't stop crying and her
son developed nightmares and started grinding his teeth). She
feels that US medical doctors are not the ones to consult about
malaria in Africa. She mentioned that there is medication you
can take once you get malaria that clears it up right away. It
only costs about $8 per dose -- a full day's pay for many of
the people where she is living -- which is why many Africans
can't get treatment. She and her son haven't gotten malaria
yet, and she lives at a higher elevation where there aren't as
many mosquitoes, so I imagine the risks depend on where you are
I would move to Ghana right now if I could. My parents take a two
week trip to Ghana every year and I have been there for that and
for other reasons. My husband is from Nigeria and we have taken
our three children to Nigera and Ghana and stayed for some time.
In fact, my 2 and 4 years old daughters lived in Nigeria for 6
months with my husband while I ''supposedly'' was working towards
getting this doctorate completed. Anyway, regarding Malaria...
there is a pill called Mefloquine that we are supposed to take
weekly... many people call it the ''sunday sunday tab''. Kaiser
reduced it into a powder for my youngest to take but I discovered
it was easier to give to her in pill form and with COKE or
FANTA!! They looked forward to drinking the soda... not taking
the Mefloquine... on a side note, both of my daughters contracted
Malaria and were treated easliy and quickly while in NIgeria and
are wonderfully healthy now.
Furthermore, the schools in Nigeria and in Ghana are very strong
academically. Many do not however have all of the financial
resources that we take for granted over here ( computers, science
equipment etc.)but the students are sharp as can be and able to
compete and even surpass the students educated in the US public
I find the children in that area to be extremely articulate,
incredibly respectful and bi-lingual. In fact,my daughters came
home speaking Yoruba and English with a NIgerian accent.
Ghana to me is a very warm friendly place. It is a bit more laid
back than Nigeria. In Ghana as well as Nigeria, you can find
practically anything you would find in the US. I often found
myself a bit disturbed by the over infatuation of America and all
things American... But that can be relative to your locale as
well. Accra is a very metropolitan place... great food,
nightclubs(if you are so inclined)etc. The area is very safe and
children are loved. I wish that I could raise my children in such
a child friendly, human centered environment. If you would like
to ask any questions or If I can be of assistance, please dont
hesitate to email me at Lagos4us@aol.com.
Where would you go for 9 months or a year in order to introduce
your children to life in another country and another language?
It suddenly hit us that in 2005 we will be in a position to move
abroad for year due to flexibility in our work (have laptop, can
travel). It also struck us that our eldest will be 12, and the
''best to become bilingual before puberty'' door will soon be
closing! We could leave as early as January 2005 (depending on
the results of the election, we might be particularly motivated
then) or go in June 2005. Either way we could be gone for 9
months or a year.
But where would we go? We do have friends abroad, but mostly in
big cities (Paris, London, Berlin, Athens, Tokyo, Mexico City).
Wouldn't it be less stressful, less expensive, and easier to meet
people in a town than the city? But how would we meet people
locally? A home exchange would be inexpensive, and would it help
us integrate into a community?
Our kids (now ages 8 and 11) have had weekly Spanish instruction
since kindergarten, but not in an immersion program so they don't
truly speak Spanish yet. We would love to have them speak
Spanish, but any language will do! My husband and I speak fluent
French, and decent Spanish and Italian.
The girls have a good ear for language and have traveled with us
to visit friends in France, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Germany;
they are open to new experiences (and new flavors of ice cream!)
but would miss their friends. Where can we go where we might
have a chance of making friends (especially in today's political
climate - who would welcome Americans? Quebec?)
I'd also like advice on schooling - I lived in France and
attended a French lycie for a year as a teen, but at that point
I'd already had 6 years of French, Spanish and German
instruction, so I was fairly well prepared. Should we tutor the
girls intensively here and then plop them into the local schools
or try to enroll in an American school overseas with a mixture of
instruction in English and the local language?
Your experience and opinions welcome!
=Don't Want to Raise Monocultural Monoglots!=
In 1990 we took our four children (3,7,10, 13) to Paris for
nine months. It was easily the greatest adventure we have ever
had. I found a two bedroom flat in downtown St. Germain-en-
laye which is on the RER(like BART). Our youngest went to a
public nursery school, our next two went to the local public
schools and our oldest went to a public high school which had a
private english language section for which we paid tuition. She
had English and History in English and the rest of her classes
were in french. The youngest and the oldest had a great school
experience. Not so great for the middle two. It is true that
kids pick up languages. But it is also true it takes a few
months and just as they were getting it under their belt we
came home. However, they still had a good time. Every vacation
we traveled somewhere and on Wednesday afternoon, which they
had off, we went into Paris to do tourist things. Even in a big
city, people responded in a most friendly way to a family with
little kids. I didn't speak French and my husband wasn't that
great so we too studied--at the Alliance Francaise. He went in
the morning and was home for the kids two hour (!) lunch--maybe
it wasn't quite two hours but it was a long lunch--and I went
in the afternoon. Go for it! It was a GREAT adventure.
I don't have any personal experience with this but regarding
schools: I used to work with someone whose family moved to
France for a year when she was 8 or 9. The family moved to a
non-city area (countryside or suburbia, I'm not sure) for a
year. She said she was placed in the 1st grade and had a
wonderful time! She knew the year was ''just for fun'', and did
not feel bad about being with the younger kids. She told funny
stories of having a tiny desk, however. Upshot is she now
speaks French fluently and has returned to France regularly ever
since (her parents bought a villa in France at some point in her
late teens.) P.S. - this person was already bilingual as she
grew up in a Spanish and English household.
what a fabulous parent you are! first of all, i want to support you
monomono children to adult human beings..
and to remember, that the US and her people are not popular outside of
(meow) these days.
our godchild (an almost scarily brilliant/intuitive child--scary in a
and his mom moved to florence italy approx 20 months ago--he will be 5
december 04...it was the best thing for godchild--this darling one who
could have become ''pukingly precocious'' (his mom's words) moved into
wonderfully supportive environment of a catholic school where so few of
kids are roman catholic--most are expat children as ''christian'' is.
he is the
youngest; he had to learn to communicate almost immediately, using
necessary. he's had at least one of us, his extended family of castro
and aunts and his papa visited monthly for the first year they were
that he could make the transition. he LOVES museums and old churches
so he has an entire city and country full of both.
his mom, fiona, did MUCH research before moving--first she chose places
wanted to live or had always wanted to live and then researched
community, work and live laws, etc etc...and she wanted to return to
fiona went online and talked with parents in places she, then Xan,
live. chat rooms were a HUGE help, she said, particularly when she was
working on intro italian--her 'other' language was french but had not
used other than menus for 20 years..
i'm inclined to say that how others in your new country respond to you
your own personalities and willingness to throw yourself into the
get to know shopkeepers and folks in the neighborhood...fiona did NOT
to live anywhere near any US american ''compound''--she chose an
near xan's school, near markets-chemists-kid friendly coffee shops,
went over twice before moving and began a daily consistent circuit of
and sidewalk cafe visiting, shopping, so that people would get to know
by sight, name, then story. (waiters in their favorite restaurants,
shops etc now
drop everything to pick xan up, hug, and kiss him. he became a
sorts initially--now he's just one of the family. that consistency of
faces on daily walks worked for them!
read autobios and stories of people who went ''abroad''....talk to
etc...where are you happiest? country or city? i'm such an urban
dweller and so
are fiona and xan, but for 9 months, i'd want to soak up as much
possible--fiona and xan escape to assissi and the surrounding umbrian
countryside for breaks from the ''big city'' and take the train to rome
mad hustle bustle....
and remember most places in the world dont live frenetic US time..why
earth would you want to come back? we, my husband and i, are looking to
the hell out of this country asap! but i am convinced i was born an
children, now grown, are much more conservative than we (our failure as
liberals! och!) and they are looking to move out of the country.
in the past two years we've spent a lot of time in ireland (both the
the 6 counties), amsterdam, panama, costa rica, and wales..we'd move to
of those places tomorrow...
if you are interested in tropical, visit panama. the bocas area is so
cool costa rica, the island of bocas is booming, and the people are
(beware banana plantation chemicals)....just on the other side of bocas
also south of costa rica is the chiriqui province with a fabulous area
mountains...i adore costa rica......no huge rip roaring cultural
museums, etc but the people are so incredible and there are a number of
indigenous cultures, too, of course.
if you'd like i am happy to share email info of friends and family we
panama and florence...our panama friends have older children--they
when the girls were jr high age; one returned to berkeley--the other is
becoming panamanian! as the US was in panama for so long, the people
understand the difference between ''us'' and the US
us and US at our worst (and our best)...
those civilised, semi-socialist, cool countries have THE quality of
norway, iceland, sweden, etc etc. i found i have an almost intuitive
understanding of dutch. the people in amsterdam are very worried about
US--we still get emails from folks from our favorite shops and
who send us the news we will never here in the censored US....
my husband went to florence on the day the US declared war--US folks
pouring out of france--no service in restaurants, cabs, etc...he stayed
month and went to daily protests and demonstrations at embassies etc.
germans on holiday stopped and talked with him as they had with me
before about their concern for what is happening here--''too much like
we are connected to the GTU and if i were thinking of going to latin
anywhere, i'd be interviewing the franciscans and jesuits for
connections...actually anywhere in the world for franciscans and jebs
ireland, scotland, wales--and those gorgeous places like cornwall--are
anti US as is london. we've two friends studying theology at oxford and
response to them in the past year has been confrontational about US,
the 2nd iraqi war..very very good for these two young people to
all that.....both have traveled outside london and love ireland and
mean there is always gaelic as 2nd, third language.....west of ireland
gaelic speaking communities are fascinating as indigenous cultures of
who look ''white''.....
i don't know if i've helped you any at all.
please feel free to email me personally if you'd like.
good luck and happy travelling..start getting those visas and shots
particularly work visas....do you have any pets that will need care? if
even thinking of planning to take with you, pay attention to the
My family went to live in Guanajuato, Mexico, for many of the
reasons you sited. Plus it is not too far away in miles, so we
could have returned to the Bay Area easily if needed (though we
didn't) and is a beautiful small city/large town with an
interesting community. We were also able to find housing, a
school for our kids (ages 4 and 9 at the time) and a language
school for us - all fairly easily. We wanted to go for a year
but could only take half that amount of time off of work - so
that's what we did. We did this about a year and a half ago
and we hope to do the same thing again in a few years. I'm
happy to tell you more and answer any questions. I could go on
and on here, but it would be way too long. So feel free to
call or email.
Hello! I am in the middle of my year abroad with my family. We picked
Spain, because I am from here and my family lives here. My children are
much younger than yours (5 and 3), and they integrated wonderfully.
The oldest goes to a public school, where the language is not Spanish,
but the local Catalan, and he understood every word of it in three
Although both children understood Spanish perfectly when we arrived,
the oldest had forgotten how to speak it (the 3 year old was not
much when we arrived), and it was great to listen to them speaking
perfect Spanish just two months after we arrived.
Although we are in Mallorca, I just returned from a trip to Sevilla,
think that it must be the most wonderful town to live in. Small,
manageable, great parks, short ride to wonderful nature (Sierra de
Grazalema), beautiful river, delicious tapas and most of all the
who are happy, open, and kind. Check it out!
We rented our home in Berkeley to cover our mortgage, and this worked
out very well for us.
Happy in Spain
How great that you are able to go away for a year now! I
highly reccomend chosing a Spanish-speaking country. I
lived in Spain for years, and became fluent in Spanish
without giving it much forethought, and it has become a
HUGE advantage in my work life. The cutting-edge in
getting a job or into a new careeer, has often been my
fluency in Spanish. Spanish is the primary second
language in the US, and by the time your kids grow up, more
than half of Californians will be of Spanish-speaking
I agree that a small town would be much better than a city. I
think either Spain or Latin America (I particularly love Mexico)
would be great. Mexico would be much cheaper (the Euro is
a bit expensive right now.) Spain and Mexico are very
different, but both Mexicans and Spaniards are super-
welcoming and friendly. My experience all over the world is
that even though they hate ''America'', they welcome
individual US citizens with open arms.
Hi There! What a well-traveled family you are! My husband
and I have researched the issue as well and found a
wonderful place in central Mexico -- San Miguel de Allende.
The climate is gorgeous. So is the landscape and the
people are very friendly. There are several private bi-lingual
schools (Engl-Span.) that are cheap in comparison to U.S.
There's a nice library, great arts, good language schools,
beautiful colonial town. Small (ab 80,000)
Minus: blockbuster, lots of us expats.
Not real advice, just a few thoughts. I moved from Argentina to
the US when I was 12, so I guess this could be seen as reverse
-Kids in some other countries grow up faster than in the US. In
Argentina by 12 you are pretty independent: you go to school,
shopping, the movies, cafes, with your friends, no longer your
parents. By 13, you are going to be going to dance-parties and
discos (and discos don't open until midnight). So you need to
ask yourself if you are ready to let your baby grow up so quickly
all of the sudden. If you're not, you may want to go to a country
where this doesn't happen (or wait a couple of years).
-Spanish is a very easy language to learn and one that anyone
can pick up in a couple of months in a language program in Latin
America. I'd go for another language. My personal preferences
would be French or Arabic, just based on the number of different
countries where the languages are spoken.
-In chosing a town vs. a city, consider whether the town will
have a school that will be able to accomodate your children's
language issues. Main cities usually have ''American'' schools,
where the children of foreigners go. Whether you chose this
route will depend greatly on which country you chose to go to.
-There is generally more fun stuff to do in cities as well.
-In my experience, as a semi-American married to an American,
people everywhere are able to differentiate Americans from the
American government. They saw the anti-war demonstrations on TV
It was funny and kind of exciting reading your e-mail
because I just returned with my daughter, who is 12, from
two months in Mexico!
I took her out of her charter school, in Santa Cruz and flew
down to spend a few months experiencing the culture of
Mexico. We went to the Yukatan, Oaxaca City, where we
rented an apartment and studied spanish a bit...but decided
having a free schedule was more interesting for us. We
took a luxury bus to the coast,(which is essential for
over-night bus trips), visited the coast of Oaxaca and then
took another bus over to Chiapas.
I loved Chiapas, it was such an incredible place and I
would highly recommend San Cristobal de las Casas. Its
very safe and Chiapas is the most diverse state in Mexico. If
I did this trip again I would head also to Guatemala, to
study-the reason I would recommend big cities to study in is
that you have more options, you can rent an apartment
though a language school, for super cheap, take guitar
lessons, art classes, and have a diverse crowd passing
though. My brother in law is in Guatemala right now,
studying in a city bordering Chiapas, he then took a sail boat
through Belize, which is a haven of islands, wonderful for
snorkling. There is lush jungle between all these states,
beautiful jungle, filled with howler monkeys, epiphytes, and
tall jungle trees. I did a unit on the jungle with my daughter
Ayeen, studying the ecosystems, animals, plants, and the
preservation of these areas.
So, you have my vote, we had an incredible time, the bus
systems down in Mexico is excellent, I felt very safe, there
are lots of European tourists, internet cafes, cool
restaurants, tour groups that take you into the jungle,
horseback-riding, and best of all your in another country,
experiencing a culture different than this country; I really
hear you with wanting to get out, this (what I easily label as a
facist administration) is making us fed up as well...
I would also like to ask you for more into regarding your
European travels, our family is interested in travelling to
France, I am a young mom who is now finishing up my
undergrad work and want to take the family abroad with me,
live in Spain for six months, possibly more...any tips? We
are staying with the grandparents in San Lorenzo and would
love to hook up with your family! peace, Hania
Taking your kids to live abroad is a great idea! Here's a
warning, though -- you might like it too much! In 2000 I took
early retirement from UCB and moved to Costa Rica with my two
kids, then 12 and 9. I figured on two years abroad, because I
didn't think one would be long enough to give us the adventure
and experience and language exposure I was looking for. I was
right; four years later, we're still here, and have no plans to
In terms of where to go, if you're a city person, go for a city
and all its culture and things to do, and you'll meet people.
I was really weary of city life, so we moved to a small town in
the cloud forest, and we met people here. You meet people
abroad the same way you meet people anywhere -- through your
interests, through getting out of the house, and especially in
Latin America, through your kids.
My kids are in a private school where about 25% of their
instruction is in Spanish and the rest in English. This has
let them stay at grade level while still learning Spanish.
They got Spanish tutoring for the first couple years, as they
came here knowing none, but now they're holding their own in
classes and social situations in either language. (About 80%
of their classmates are Costa Rican.) My kids would certainly
have learned Spanish faster in an immersion situation, but
probably would have lost ground academically; more verbal kids
might be able to do it, but it's harder the older they are.
The public schools here are not all that great -- overcrowded,
I've also taken Spanish classes from local women off and on
since I got here, and the chance to ask questions of and learn
about local customs and history during our conversation
practice has been as valuable as the language instruction.
We're in a fairly international community -- Costa Ricans,
North Americans, South Americans, Europeans -- and I've felt no
anti-American sentiment. (Well, except maybe from other U.S.
expats.) Hope this helps!
Personally, I don't think there's anyplace better for kids than
Japan! I lived there for a year after college, and have
returned several times, and it is easily the safest place I
have ever been (personal belongings left in the open remain
untouched, doors are always unlocked, strangers are always
willing to help others, etc.) Children are treated by all as
if they are a special treasure and are welcome everywhere and
indulged by everyone. For elementary school, I would
absolutely use a Japanese public school. However, I would
hesitate to use them for children over 10 because that is when
the famous Japanese academic pressures begin to mount.
I'd be happy to answer any questions. It's not as expensive as
everyone thinks outside of the big cities! (So long as you
don't try to live as we do in America and do as the Japanese
Every fall I get this itch to move to Mexico for a year. After reading on this
listserve and then investigating the kindergarten issues in our district, I really
feel like taking that academic year with my child to learn a new language and
experience a different culture. Several things hold me back: I don't speak
Spanish, I've never been to Mexico, I'm a single mom, and I'm a worrier.
I'm sure there are a lot of you who have taken a year off. How did you decide
where you wanted to live? What did you do about health insurance? What did
you do with your car? How did you handle having someone live in your home?
What did you worry about before you made the decision? I have this notion,
hopefully not too far-fetched, that I could telecommute part-time in my
current job and earn enough to live on. (Cost of living is less in Mexico, right?)
1. Are there any good books to read on how to prepare for a year abroad?
2. Do you know of any good places to live in Mexico that are safe, likely to
have Mac computer support, language immersion classes and English speaking
3. Any general advice to share?
I am presently living abroad for one year, although my situation is very
different: I am in Spain, where I have lots of family (I was born and raised
and I speak the language. I have moved here with my husband and two
small children (4 and 2).
But here are some things we did:
We rented our house in Berkeley to cover our mortgage. This took a lot of
planning beforehand. We posted ads starting nine months in advance. It was
tricky, because we were not vacating the house until a date far in the future,
but finally we found someone that we trust and like. We entered an agreement
2+ months before we left. These tenants agreed to give us a non-refundable
deposit of two months rent. In this way, we prevented the scenario where the
tenants would change their minds shortly before we left, when we had already
bought our plane tickets. When they moved in (the same day we were leaving
the country), that deposit became the rental deposit and last month. We were
lucky that they wanted the place furnished, so we only had to put our
belongings in boxes and move them to the attic.
If you leave near campus, make sure to place your ad with UC Housing. They
have many overseas professors coming for sabbaticals. If you are flexible, you
could work your schedule around that. We had a nice family from Norway who
wanted to rent. But they were returning to Norway two months before we were
returning from Spain, so that did not work for us.
I telecommute full time. All I need is my laptop, a DSL connection, a printer
and a scanner. I am not sure where in Mexico you are thinking of, but in my
experience any medium sized town will have Internet access. I think you would
be better off going to a town popular with other foreigners that are also
telecommuting, because those are more likely to have the services you are
looking for. Check out Ajijic, near Guadalajara, or San Miguel Allende.
I have found that health insurance is much more affordable in Spain (and I
would say ANYWHERE outside of the US, where the situation is shameless). I get
all my family covered with a very good plan for less than a third of what we
would pay in the US.
I have a Mac as well, and for now I have had no need for support, but I know it
is available to me (my cousin owns the only Apple authorized technical service
in town!). Again, I think if you end up in a place with a community of
expatriates you will find resources easily.
If you decide to go, I can give you ideas on how to take care of your banking,
your mail, etc. etc.
Good luck to you!
Having fun in Spain
Hi, I recently moved to
Norway to join my family after two years and a half of
separation. My wife is Norwegian and my daughter is American,
unfortunately things are not going well here. First of all, I
came to help her with the responsabilities of our four year old
daughter who is brain damaged and needs a lot of help with her
developing. Luckily she is walking, understands Norwegian words
but she can not talk.Therefore SIGN LANGUAGE is our bridge of
comunication between our daughter and us. Last Tuesday after an
argue my wife told me to leave the house and she wants me to
find a new place to leave because I do not things like she wants
me to do and I also take a lot of her time to help me to settle
down in this country where I do not have anybody else but my
family and my wife's family.She also said she is NOT IN LOVE
with me becuse I am 10 pounds overweight and I do not dress up
like Norwegian guys.I do not speak Norwegian plus I do not have
much money to move out and it is quite difficult to find a job
here if you do not speak the language!!
I do not what to do but if I should go back to the US where I
had a good job but I know I will miss my daughter so much that I
creates a lot of pain in me when I do not see her.On the other
hand I do not want to be this MISERABLE for the rest of my
life.I have a permit to stay here in Norway until May 2003 so I
really need to think about it very carefully!
I will appreciatte your sugestions and if you need more
information of my situation I will be happy to provide you guys
and thanks for giving me the option of talking to someone about
Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!
It sounds like during the 2 1/2 years you have been
seperated from your wife you have grown apart. She may be upset
that you were out of their lives for that long and she had to
take care of your daughter by herself. You could either move out
and try and get a job there(learn Norwegian)and continue to visit
with your daughter. Hopefully, your wife will get over whatever
issues she has right now. OR come back to the US, get a better
job, send money for your daughter and scheduled visits as often
as possible. MOVE ON
It sounds like you are experiencing a crisis, but this may be just
a temporary setback. Don't give up! It's very hard to adjust to a
new country, and it doesn't sound like you have much support. But
it will get better. You will learn the language, and you will be
able to be more help for your wife. And she may have spoken rashly
when she said she didn't love you. If she was being honest, then
maybe you won't be together, but you should be there for your
daughter, and she should help you do that. Keep trying.
Unfortunately I think you are going to need to turn to the massive
and complex Norwegian bureaucracy in order to inform yourself
about your rights and your daughter's. This will be easiest if
you have a friend who speaks Norwegian and is familiar with the
Norwegian system. If not, it will still be possible to pursue
information, but it will be more difficult. You didn't say where
you are living. It would perhaps be easiest to either 1) approach
a lawyer, preferably one who has dealt with immigrant as well as
family issues or 2) go to the communal (county) government offices
that deal with child welfare and family issues. If you are in
Oslo, for instance, the name of the county is Oslo kommune, and
there is a department called Barn og familievern. They deal with
family and child welfare (in the broader sense) issues. There is
also a big government website, http://norge.no.emne/emne.asp,
which gives a list of various emne (subjects) covered by the
government at various levels. You should look on the list for
Barn og familievern (child and family welfare), Familie, foreldre
og barn (Family, parents, and children), and innvandere
(immigrants). I think that the communal level offices would be
the best place to start, however. Children (even, I think, those
who do not hold Norwegian citizenship) have lots of protection and
rights in Norway, and so it would be important to inform yourself
about these and about your ongoing status in the country and as a
You are in a very difficult situation. It is really hard to be
in a country where you know only a few people and don't know the
language or the customs or even where to go to get some help. I
commend you for trying to make it work out for your daughter's
sake. I hope your wife will be willing to go to marriage
counseling with you; if not, you could go for counseling by
What you need is a friend, or a person who can advocate for you
with your wife and also help you navigate your way in Norwegian
society. Perhaps you will find help through your posting in
this e-tree; or perhaps you will find this through counseling.
Other things you can do are to immerse yourself in learning
Norwegian, and adapt yourself to the ways people do things
there. You will have to do this on your own because it seems
that your wife doesn't want to do it with you. If your wife is
unhappy because of how you take care of or interact with your
daughter, think about what might be valid about her criticisms
and what you can do better. Her comments about your appearance
seem trivial and possibly cover up some deeper unhappiness with
you and your relationship with her.
I'm sorry you are having such a sad and difficult time. I hope
you get the help you need.
We are exploring the possibility of going to Pisa, Italy or
Zurich, Switzerland on sabbatical in about 2 years. We would
live in Europe for one year. We have two pets -- a dog (Golden
Retriever/Lab mix, about 5 yrs old) and a cat (about 12 yrs old).
Both are rescue animals and our home is there ''forever home''. I
don't want to leave them behind. But, I'm wondering is it
feasible to take to take a cat and a dog with us to Europe? Does
having pets make it more difficult to find housing over there?
What have other people done? Thank you.
If your animals are fairly calm by nature you can take them
with you. We moved two cats to France (via Switzerland)
following the instructions of the airline (TWA or United) in
1991. Since we were renting a house there was no real
problem having the cats.
They need to be certified in good health before leaving the
US, and the airline has someone check them before
releasing them to you.
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