I doubt that anyone still reads this blog but I am about to close it up so I wanted to do one more post as an update to how things are going in the year since we moved to Tampa and jot down a few things that I have learned from our experience doing some thing so far out of my comfort zone.
We have been in Tampa for almost a year now. I would say that it took a good nine months for the kids to really feel like they were planting some roots here. Not to say that people haven’t been super friendly, because they have, but I would almost say that our kids have have had some walls up and been a little bit slow to let people in. I can definitely say that moving to Costa Rica was easier on them than moving back. I can’t even put my finger on why that is. I think that part of it is that the international school we were in there set you up with Buddy families and small groups to make sure that you are getting settled in and here I think we were just expected to pick up and run because this is supposed to be our home, right? It also didn’t help that we were cooped up in our house for a year and a half before we moved back to the states because of Covid restrictions. Benson told us that he will never switch schools again because it was the worst experience of his life. I reminded him that he will have to change schools again for high school and he says he doesn’t see that as the same because he will be moving schools along with other friends.
He will be starting high school in August and is looking forward to the marching band and we are excited about Friday night football. He has made some good friends and we are very excited about that. He still keeps in close contact with his friends from Costa Rica that are now spread all over the world. What a cool experience that is!
Sloane seems to be doing pretty well. She has a few close friends and is babysitting a lot and making her own money. They are all three playing flag football. She still mentions wanting to go “home” a lot and that is hard. I asked her the other day if that meant she wished that she could pick up where she left off in Memphis or she wished she had never left. She’s honestly not sure. It’s a hard time in life and moving around from place to place is definitely not easy or glamorous.
Blake Leigh had a rough start to the year but she’s doing great now. She has made some really great friends who are sporty and don’t take things too seriously just like her! She will start middle school in August and she will be there with Sloane. She is wanting to join band and wants to play the trumpet like her brother. She also wants to keep working on her basketball skills so she can be just like Ja Morant.
They have all done well academically through this transition which is a relief because we weren’t sure how that was going to go. In Costa Rica the grading scale was one through four instead of A’s and B’s. Nathan is still working from home most of the time and I am still enjoying my lunch room aid position at the elementary school where Blake Leigh is. We are all looking forward to a break this summer. We plan to go on a RV trip to Yellowstone.
In my new job as a lunchroom aid I get to talk to about 1,000 kids every day. Well, I guess I don’t talk to all of them but I do try to at least give them all a smile. I get to meet kids from all over the world and I am always excited to hear when a new student comes from another country. A lot of them don’t even speak English.
I have a new friend that just moved here from Russia. She doesn’t speak English but she has 2 of the sweetest girls sitting with her at lunch, and I know they were hand picked by the teacher to help her out. I am also so excited to see how quickly she will be able to have conversations with me in English. They learn so fast!
I say all of that because I don’t know that I would have given much thoughts about even trying to communicate with someone that doesn’t speak the same language as me before our experience. And now I am so much more empathetic in these situations. I have learned that we definitely don’t have to speak the same language to solve problems and get to know each other.
I have also noticed my children being much more willing to jump in without being asked when there is a need. They have been in those situations themselves and someone has helped them figure things out. Our experience hasn’t helped me not be shy and awkward because that’s just my personality but at least I am a little bit more comfortable being assertive when I see that there is a need for me to step up.
So I don’t know if I am a good advertisement for moving abroad just yet, (the jury is still out). But I know there are good and bad things about our experience and I just want to try and focus on the good. We will ask our kids in about 5-10 years and see what they say…..