We're in the thick of trying to sort out details for January. My husband has a 1/2 year sabbatical, and we had planned to spend it in Costa Rica. He wants to be in the Spanish-speaking world to get his Spanish skills back so that he can teach in that language. Costa Rica has a seminary in San Jose where there are apartments for families to stay, and Derek would have access to a great library with Spanish resources for his current research projects. We were thinking of a 4 month stay, and even have some university students ready to rent our house.
And I feel silly about these fears. Because I know lots of people would think that it's silly to be scared of uprooting your family for 4 months.
At the beginning of the school year, Zoe dug in her heels and said, "I don't want to go to Costa Rica! Not for 4 months! I'll go for a month, but not 4!" She loves her teacher (she's in grade 5), loves her class, and she's generally cautious of new experiences. That said, she looks back with fondness on the 4 months we spent in France when she was in grade one, and on the month we spent in Benin this year. On the plane ride back from Benin, she asked, "When do we get to travel again?"
But she seems more flexible now. We watched a library video called "Families of Costa Rica" and after that she said, "Actually, maybe it would be ok to go..."
Derek would be going to Costa Rica with a purpose - to research and write. I would be in charge of our children's education - probably a mix of homeschool/roadschool (a new term I just learned that means educating your kids through travel) + Spanish classes for all 3 of us.
We have a place to stay. Check.
We have people to rent our house while we're gone. Check.
Two big things. So what are my fears all about?
January and February are the summer break at the seminary. So there won't be lots of people milling around. If we homeschool, that doesn't give us access to a group of children for my kids to play with. I fear being isolated.
Other times we've traveled, we've gone to French-speaking countries where I had language skills. My Spanish skills are very limited. I can understand things OKish, but French comes out when I try to respond. So I'd be relying on Derek, who is fluent in Spanish. Who also needs to get his own work done. I fear not being able to get around without the language.
Although I am a teacher, I have never homeschooled my children. I wouldn't even consider the idea here in Canada. There are too many things about the local school that I love. And I loved being a teacher to a group of children who WERE NOT my own kids. But going to Costa Rica for a short term, I don't know if it makes sense to enrol them for just 2 months (March and April, after their summer holidays in Jan-Feb are over). And what do we do for Jan-Feb? In my better moments, I get excited about planning some units around the many things that Costa Rica has to offer - like rainforests, many interesting creatures like monkeys, insects, sloths, leatherback turtles, and volcanoes, etc. etc. Engage in a blogging project together. Take photos. But then I fear losing patience with my kids - I've never been their sole teacher before, and I worry that we would get on each other's nerves. I've also looked into some volunteering experiences - need to spend some more time looking into these options.
Derek doesn't understand these fears. He thinks it's a great opportunity for us to travel and experience something new as a family. We know from our past experiences how travel has brought us new perspectives and made us reliant on each other. We felt more cohesive as a family - not so stretched. And this has been a gift.
So... how to address these fears...
1. isolation: not sure, but we have family members who want to travel to Costa Rica during our time there, so that might help with the feelings of maybe-isolation.
2. language: I have some language CDs that I can listen to at home or in the car to get my ear around hearing Spanish, and responding in Spanish.
3. homeschool/patience issue: Map out some fun learning units for each month, and plan a field trip to do with each one. Research more fully some volunteer options for us as a family. Make a calendar. Plug things in. Plan for visitors. Give ourselves a task each day to explore a little tiny piece of the city. Expect surprises.
I'm open to any other advice you may have for me as I try not to be the stick in the mud for our family.