“Having left my job in Brussels and with several small children it seemed to be my opportunity to escape office life and do something I really wanted to do so I looked for a course in furniture restoration in Barcelona and after a couple of years at the school of restoration I started out on my own.”
Diane Serra is a designer and creative director from San Diego, California now living in Olivella, Catalunya with her Catalan husband, daughter, Estel and white boxer, Ona.
“The weather is great – we wake up to the sun most mornings and that alone has a very positive effect. And we are all comfortable in a multicultural and multilingual society – hopefully our children will find it easy to adapt wherever they chose to live in the future.”
“They did have a special bond, when they shared a cot they would suck on each others head, once they were in their own room, they would stand up and chat and laugh at each other, it was funny and cute.”
“When I first visited Vincerola I was especially intrigued by the fact that one of the classroom teachers, Achmed who comes from Egypt, is deaf and solely communicates with the children in sign language. When Ella joined the nursery interacting with Achmed was quite a challenge for her and it took her some time to understand that she needed to communicate with him in a completely different way.”
Dutch artist and mum Onke Truijen talks about her journey from hippy Ibiza to cosmopolitan Barcelona
“When we’re at school and with friends we only speak Italian; at home with our parents we speak English. We both find it easier to express ourselves and think in English, even though we use Italian more throughout the day.” Twins Mia and Cara talk about their life in a small village in Perugia.
“My advice to others thinking of relocating is to have about 3 times as much money as you think you’ll need. Also join any local expat groups on social media before you arrive – the members have a wealth of information.” Maya Mackenzie on relocating to Barcelona.
“There are three lessons I have learned about life as an expat. It helps to be adaptable, patient and have a big support network.” Marisa moved to Bordeaux with her husband and young family in 2009 for a 3 year trial period. They are still there today.
“Even though I’m Italian, after many years of living abroad I found returning to live in Italy harder than I had expected. Once again many things were different. I felt the only familiar thing was the language. Anything else I struggled to understand or to make sense of. I had to learn to live in my own country.”
“Whether we’re learning about a famous local artist or an old monument, the kids see the look of curiosity and wonder in our eyes and they become instant students of whatever we’re learning. It’s honestly surprised me how much their love of learning has grown on this trip.”
“Integration is difficult in the early stages and if your French isn’t good it’s even harder. Even though it can be deeply uncomfortable you simply have to throw yourself in at the deep end and try – you will be respected for it and find that you fit in, in no time at all.”