Life in Iceland is a HUGE shift from Malta, in so many ways.
I admit the knowledge that it would be a significant change for the children worried me for weeks before we left, how would the children take it, would they adjust....would they blame us and miss home every minute of every day? Would they wish for their grandparents ( so much a part of our day to day life in Malta), and their friends? would they long for the heat and sun? Their house? ( and toys?). We came with one suitcase each. Left all the rest behind. Somehow I was convinced in my mind that regardless of the difficulties we would surely face, it would be something positive for the children in the long run ( even in the face of some doubtful friends and family members), who questioned the move, the children's schooling would suffer etc.
I am here to tell you, now that we have been here almost five months, that from the very start it has been a surprisingly smooth and wonderful( in every sense of the word) transition. The children ( ages 10, 9, 7 and 2) have made such a swift and easy transition that my husband and I were truly amazed. They are all thriving in such a clear way, that we have already been confirmed in our decision to move here ( for a year), they are happy in the local school, confident, independent ( in a way they never could have been in Malta) and picking up the language very quickly. They are so chipper and free spirited, and with friends they can call on (and who show up almost daily after school to play). We were lucky that the neighbourhood we live in is very family friendly, kids everywhere, parks down the street, natural geothermic pools at the end of the block and an easy 15 min walk to the center of Reykjavik.
I think we were lucky when we found this sabbatical home swap.
The local school ( which the children attend) is at the end of our street.
My husband and I too have been surprised by how quickly we felt at home here, have made friends and fallen into a gentle routine. Bike rides by the sea to work replaced daily traffic jams. Clean air and wide quiet streets. Kids walking on their own to friends houses, to basketball practise or the local shop for milk. Reykjavik feels like a very safe place, and the approach to children very loving but free, kids are allowed to play and really be kids. There are no annual exams for elementary or middle school children here, very little homework and there are cooked- on the premise healthy lunches every day, (fish and potatoes for example ). A far cry from the exam oriented very serious and not so creative quality of schools in Malta. so far it seems there is in addition to the usual subjects of science, math, literacy, history, and study of world religions, textiles, cooking, woodworking, art and music. Music interwoven throughout actually.
So many things have been an eye opening shift for us as parents.
Iceland may be small in population ( less than Malta!) but this island too is very rich in culture, history and nature and I won't even go into the love of books and high rate of authors here or musical talent.
It is indeed a special place and we are enjoying our time here.
So any of you out there who are thinking of making a leap to a different land, kids in tow, consider doing it. It is bonding as a family and such a rich adventure to have as memories for the future.
Have already probably said more than enough so I will end here.
May your mid November days be healthy and hopeful.