About us

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The four of us

We are a family of four who decided to uproot our life in Sydney, Australia to live in Spain for a year. For a long time we couldn’t voice our dream of living in Spain for fear that we wouldn’t be able to make it happen. Interestingly, it wasn’t until we had the courage to talk about it that the idea began to take shape and we realised we could actually do it. What ensued was a highly creative period of defining and executing a vision of the sort of life we wanted to lead during a year away.

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Me- the narrator of this story

Mum – I have a had a weird and wonderful working life starting out in the Hollywood film industry, followed by 10 years of environmental advocacy campaigning with Greenpeace, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF). In recent years I’ve had a career change and now work as a leadership development consultant and facilitator for a mix of clients. I really enjoy the diversity of the issues, people and organisations I work with because, for me, variety is the spice of life.  I have always been passionate about exploring the world beyond Australia and have a love of learning languages, particularly after my AFS exchange year in the French part of Switzerland at the age of 16.

Yoga, dancing and nature keep me sane, especially swimming and walking in my special place: Bondi Beach, while spending time with my family and friends brings contentment and a sense of belonging. I love great films and am also an online activist, supporting global action on climate change, universal education and health care.

The year we spent in Spain was an incredible dream come true full of adventure, reconnection to our European heritage and great learning. Adjusting back to life in Australia has been an interesting process of appreciating the familiarity and simultaneously missing our Spanish life. What I am particularly enjoying at the moment is helping and advising other families to embark on their own Spanish adventures.

Papi

Dad – I am the Finnexican (Mexican/Finn) living in Australia for 20 years. I love technology which helps as I work in I.T. at a large university in Sydney. I am also the cook in our household and I enjoy spending time with my family. I am so happy that we managed to fulfil the dream of living in Europe for a year. It was very special to share the experience as a family and to watch our children learn a new language, culture and all about their lineage in Finland and Hungary. We will be forever connected to Europe even though we live so far away.

Older Brother
Older Brother

Brother – I am 10 years old and my favourite things to do are to play tennis, soccer and reading. During our year in Spain I had so much fun with my friends from school. We all played on the local Albaicin soccer team called Rayo Eneas and also played soccer as much as we could at school. Collecting soccer cards from the Spanish League and the World Cup was a big thing in Spain which I loved as in Australia you can only collect rugby cards and I don’t follow rugby. When I wasn’t playing soccer, I was playing tennis with the Granada Junior team called the Benjamines. I was so excited at the end of the year when we won the Andalucian Championship title for Granada and had our photo in the newspaper.

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Younger sister
Younger sister

Sister – I am 8 years old and I love drawing, dressing up, dancing, travelling and eating new and exotic food. During our year in Spain and Europe I just loved catching planes and trains to new and different places. The languages were so interesting as was the different food I tried. I met lots of my family and cousins in Finland and friends of my parents in Switzerland, France and Hungary. Often I played with kids who couldn’t speak English or Spanish so we played games using sign language and actions to communicate. In Spain I loved all the festivals where people dressed up in their traditional clothes and danced. At the very end of our year in Spain, my Grandpa came to visit and bought me my very own Sevillana dress that I wore during the Granada Feria and at other festivals. I just love it and enjoy dancing in my Spanish costume. My mum is having a big Spanish feria party soon for her 40th birthday and I cannot wait to dance in my Sevillana dress for everyone.

The Spanish transformation is complete.
The Spanish transformation is complete.
The four of us on our last day in Europe. Paris, July 2014
The four of us on the very last day of our year away, Paris

13 thoughts on “About us

  1. Fabulous idea guys, you can make it happen! And I will bevery jealous. Our five year plan was twelve months in south america, but I think that five years has passed us by. I still hold hopes that it will happen. As for scholing the kids,they will be fine. My family lived in Chile for a year in the early 80s with no spanish or family conections. My sisters and I all went to school, aged 5, 8 and 9. Chile was very much a developing country back then in the middle of a military dictatorship soon after a coup. I admit as a kid I found it pretty hard work, but the experience changed my view of the world forever and opened my eyes big time. I wouldnt have done the things I have done since nor been to the places that I have without that experience. Good luck in your planning. What a rush!

  2. Hi guys. Best of luck for your preparations and move. I am good friends with Michele and she told us about your impending move and adventure. We are just into our 3rd year of our “year away” in France. It has been a roller coaster but generally a great one,always interesting, hard, horrible in moments, truly brilliant in others, challenging individually, as a family, linguistically, socially and emotionally (actually and physically too for me anyway!), fundamentally character and life changing for us all. Glad we did it. I am very envious of your Spanish friend though. We could have done with one of those before we came. As it was we found a great community here where we live in the Alps, so struggled for a while and then slowly slowly started to work out which way was up. The biggest challenges really came from the kids settling in and watching them struggle without being able to alleviate it much. Feel free to contact us if you want to chat at any time. Michele has my details.

    Buena suerte!
    Christine

    http://christinehemphill.blogspot.fr/

    1. Thanks Christine! So glad that you have a blog too that i can subscribe to. I would love to know more about the transition for the kids into a new language and culture as this is my only real worry about our trip.

  3. A wonderful plan! After Oz, we want to try to be in Germany. We’ll have to visit each other in Europe:) f.y.i….Seany transitioned great over here. He was nervous the first week or two of school but after that, it wasn’t a big deal at all. I had more of a hard time! It’s so easy for kiddos to adapt. That’s why we do these things when they’re young. I just made sure to talk to Sean about everything concerning the move and reassured him that Patrik and I were there to help him with anything and everything. It’s kinda scary for a kid to watch his house get packed up, half in a storage facility in Virginia Beach and the other half into a shipping container. Sean kept asking about his things we left behind. It told him everything was all safe and securely locked up. He needed to know that. Sean was a bit clingy too the first few months. He always needed to know where I was, even in the house. If I was out back hanging laundry and he couldn’t find me, there were some tears. Just make sure you have a good internet connection in Spain so you can Skype your friends and family! They are gonna miss you all like crazy. x

    1. Thanks Anne for the support and advice. it’s nice to know people have been there before us and survived (more than survived in fact). Maybe we will se you in Germany next year or the year after as it may be closer then Sydney to Perth!!

  4. Can you enroll your kids in some kind of Spanish school on Saturday mornings in Sydney? Even though they’re understanding the language from Petri, it’s just the added extra that could help with the transition. We have Sean in a Saturday morning Goethe German school here in Perth. It’s just 2 hours, but they have proper work books, talk with each other in German and play board games in German. When we visit Patrik’s cousins, Sean plays with their kids. Its kinda quiet at first but they find a way to communicate thru play. Luckily, a big chunk of the world knows a little bit of english, but we want them to “not” speak english. Our kids are so lucky we are doing this for them…they just don’t know it yet! xoxo

  5. Hi, I just found your site and love what you are doing thus far. We are an American family doing what you are going to do. We are in Costa Tropical, just South of Granada. Keep it up! I totally understand how much the planning and waiting can get to you. You sound similar to me with all of the obsession with Europe and up late at nights browsing the internet. 🙂 Good Luck and if you think I can answer any questions you may have, just ask.

  6. HI There Looks like an amazing time was had! Just wondering what you did for education? we are about to embark for 6 months with a grade 2. Any suggestions greatly appreciated. Cheers, Mel

  7. Dear ouryearinspain,

    My name is Joyce and I work for ExpatFinder.com.
    ExpatFinder.com is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas. We provide a myriad of services for expatriates and we have over 2,000 articles to help and support the people moving around the world and we are now creating an interview section to help the expats with real life experiences!
    We quite enjoy your blog about living in Spain, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to interview you to further share some of your tips and feature some of your first hand experience as an Expat and your interview will be published on our Expat Interview section as a guide for our expat readers. The questions are mainly about the day to day lifestyle of an expat. If it would be possible, could you also send some photographs that we can use?
    Of course, if you accept, we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.
    The questions are enclosed, feel free to respond freely. You can return the doc with your answers if you accept this invitation.
    Thanks in advance and do let me know if you prefer other means to conduct this interview and we would be happy to accommodate your terms.

    Best regards,
    Joyce

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