Our Family’s (2nd) Year in the South of France
Kids and Castles - Our year with kids in the South of France

When You Keep Your Resolutions

Last year we made a resolution – to live in Europe for a year. But this time we actually did it!

We  are very excited, happy, and proud that we finally took this trip we’ve been dreaming about for years. But it turns out there was a catch. The closest thing we’d ever done to something like this was taking a vacation. But a one-year trip isn’t like a vacation. You can’t pause your life for a full year like you can for a few weeks. Life goes on. It’s easy to imagine that a mere change of location will make life better because you’ll have more time – just like when you’re on vacation.

We worked too hard in Silicon Valley – in France we’d take the time to sip wine and relax. We owned too much stuff which cluttered our lives – in France we’d take only our four allowed suitcases and live a simple existence. We didn’t spend enough time with our kids – in France there is a four-day school week and lots of vacations so of course we’d have more family time. In California we put on weight no matter what changes we made to our diet – but the famous French Paradox would let us slim down while eating a high-fat diet. My dental hygienist sternly lectured me on gum health every time I saw her – in France I would floss my teeth EVERY day!!!

But we’re not on vacation in France, we’re living here. There is the usual stuff that happens anywhere but is more work because it’s not familiar – feeding ourselves, doing homework, washing clothes, fixing broken windshields, and on and on. There is the sabbatical-specific stuff like figuring out our next appointment with immigration to keep our visas (370€ – each!) and learning French. And we want to travel and see this amazing place, which requires planning and time.

For us, there was no “geographic cure” that magically took our existing life and made it better just by changing our physical location. I’m still pretty much a control freak. JM still has back/muscle/etc issues. The kids still won’t eat salad.

We’re very, very glad we came. This has been an amazing experience and we look forward to the second half of the journey. But it’s still real life and we’re still us.

5 Responses to “When You Keep Your Resolutions”

  1. Maha says:

    Despite the hurdles, which really is part of living abroad, I hope you’ll be able to retain some of the insights and habits you’ve learned over there. There’s something to be said for living a simpler, less hectic life.

  2. vered says:

    Very interesting observations. On the other hand, part of the charm is that you’re living – and struggling with – daily life there. So in this sense it’s much more “real” than a short vacation.

  3. Lisane says:

    Thanks for sharing these instrospective thoughts. Very timely for me!

  4. Lise Patenaude says:

    ” too much stuff which cluttered our lives ” yes I have that feeling too. It is very hard to get out of it somehow, though.

  5. […] Kids and Castles: When You Keep Your Resolutions Oh man, did that one strike a chord with me. I’m very guilty of imaging how much better life would be if we could just live somewhere else…. […]