On January 22, 2015 we left Virginia to begin our year of travel and adventure. We had already applied for and received (no easy feat) our French visas and had spent plenty of time researching our decision and formulating a plan to make Nice, France our base for the remainder of 2015.
After an overnight flight, we arrived in France on the 23rd. The first few months were anything but easy. Moving to a country where we didn’t speak the language, trying to get a French bank account, dealing with someone using my bank card credentials to almost clean out my US bank account (another story that ends well) and missing extended family that, in the past, were always there to rely on, led to a fair amount of stress!
While we had our share of struggles, it was an AMAZING year. The kids are on their way to speaking fluent French (while I’m just about hopeless in the language department). K wants to learn Italian next. He’s already learned a little from his school friends as well as a smattering of Greek and Spanish.
Starting in January, we explored Nice and the surrounding area. We learned how to shop at the fresh markets, how to use the bus and tram systems like pro’s and began paving our way (somewhat) to becoming French residents.
Homeschooling was also a huge adjustment. We arrived in Nice during the middle of the school year and didn’t want to throw the kids into a school where they couldn’t yet speak the language. We also wanted to be able to jet off and travel whenever we felt the urge. Having to wait for a school holiday can put quite the damper on spontaneous travel plans!
Homeschooling was never something I desired to do. It took us awhile, but we finally made it work. By homeschooling the kids , I was able to learn their weaknesses and focus on those areas for study. The kids used a standard VA curriculum in addition to having Europe as their classroom. In Antibes, we explored a tidal pool, later researching online the sealife we found. There’s also a Picasso museum there , so we studied the life and works of Picasso as part of our education. The kids learned about wine making in Costa Brava, Spain and Gladiators in Rome. We’ve discussed the different religions of the world, and the kids have learned to say “thank you” and “hello” in multiple languages.