What is your name, age and how long have you lived in Seville?
Sarah Gemba, age 33 and I have been living in Seville permanently for about 8 years now.
Why did you decide to move there?
I studied in Seville in college and loved it, and knew I would one day make it back for life.
What is the area like where you live?
We live in one of the many, smaller city neighborhoods in a small flat. It's very easily communicated to the shopping district and our workplaces. Seville has a large, urban layout but still maintains that small-town feeling. It is also very easy to escape to the mountains or the beach, both are just an hour or two's drive away.
What nationality are you and your partner?
I am American and my husband Daniel is Spanish.
How many children do you have, what are their names and when were they born?
Our daughter Manuela was born in October 2010.
What was your experience of having a baby in Seville(if relevant)?
She was born via C-section in one of the city's public hospitals (Macarena) and it was overall a pleasant experience. The only complaint I have is that C-sections are treated like surgeries and the father is not allowed to scrub in, which is a little behind the times...
What was your experience of relocating to Seville with children (if relevant)?
Do you work and if so what do you do?
I am Director of Custom Programming and Cultural Activities for a company specializing in Spanish language international educational programs, called Spanish Studies Abroad/The Center for Cross-Cultural Study. Our website is www.spanishstudies.org
Did you buy or rent your property? How did you find the process?
We are currently living in a flat owned by my husband, I wasn't involved in the process. I have both bought and rented previous properties and found the process to be easy and manageable.
How well integrated would you say you and your family are?
I would say we are very well-integrated, mostly due to the fact that my husband is Spanish and we have family and lots of friends native to Seville.
What language do you speak to your children?
I speak to her in English and my husband speaks to her in Spanish.
Do you think it essential to be able to speak Spanish when relocating to Seville?
I do think at least intermediate language skills are necessary for survival in this city.
What is your impression of childcare and education in Seville?
My knowledge is limited as my daughter is only a few months into her first year at daycare, but from what I understand education in Spain, and especially in southern Spain, is in the midst of going through many reforms, which includes bilingual education which I fully support. I feel like lots of foreign mothers utilize the private school system for a more quality education. We will be doing more research on all this in the coming year or two as we decide where to send Manuela to school. So far we are pleased with her public daycare, who have even provided learning materials for the 1-2 year age set!
What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the International Community living in Seville?
An advantage is obviously that your child will grow up bilingual with a little work on your part. A disadvantage is that you may not know the ins and outs of the system or be privy to special privileges or other insider perks that tend to be so prevalent in this culture.
How welcoming were the locals when you arrived in Seville?
I have always felt very welcomed as a foreigner living in Seville. People are always fascinated about what brought me here and want to know more about my home culture.
Would you say your area is family-friendly and is there anything you think would improve children´s lives where you live?
There are certainly lots of children and families in Seville, but there is little in terms of activities for children. Good parks are hard to come by and ones they do build new are hard to get to! (The city recently built a fantastic park with a huge Pirate boat and lots of other fun items, and it's right along the river, but you must go down these terrible stairs to get there, almost impossible with a carriage!)
Are you able to recommend to other MumAbroad members in the area any local services (home delivery, plumbers, dentists, babysitters etc) or any activities, restaurants or shops for children in the area?
There is a fantastic American Women's Club chapter in Seville that organizes lots of activities for every walk of life, and especially for families. You can check it out at www.awcseville.com
I can recommend lots of local services, both baby and non-related, just ask!
What advice would you give for anyone having a baby or thinking of relocating to Seville with children?
Adapting to a new culture takes patience and understanding - they won't always do things the way you are used to them being done and that's OK. Just remember you live in a beautiful city with so much to offer.
What couldn´t you live without in Seville?
My circle of like-minded expat friends, most of whom are also mothers with children my daughter's age. Having them to rely on through thick and thin has been priceless.
What could you live without in Seville?!
The bureaucracy that you find in every single process. Nothing is easy here, which is why living here requires patience, but sometimes I wish the government would finally get their act together and start simplifying things for its residents.
To read more from Sarah please visit her blog www.babblesandbibis.blogspot.com